I recently received the first two TPBs of Animal Man in the mail, courtesy of Spencer Carnage. (Thanks again, bud!) I was pretty excited to get these for perhaps one of the strangest reasons I can think of. Namely: I can't stand Grant Morrison's writing.
Every piece of work I've read by Morrison has been, by my estimation, drek that wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. He's one of three authors on my avoid-at-all-costs lists. Everything I've read by him has been poorly structured, filled with clumsy dialogue, and featured characters that can't even stay in character with how Morrison defines them in his own writing, much less compared to how they've been written by everyone else. The absolute best piece of his that I've ever read was Skull Kill Krew and that didn't really make all that much sense on several levels. (I mean, why would a shape-shifter be at all concerned about what his "basic" form looked like? Couldn't he just, I don't know, say, shape-shift into what he wanted to look like? And that early scene with Captain America playing peek-a-boo from behind his shield -- oh, that was disturbing!)
And yet, to my amazement, Morrison not only keeps getting work but he's got a rather devout following!
So here's the thing: every time I've voiced displeasure with Morrison's work, someone always comes back with, "Well, you need to read Animal Man." No real explanation, just that Animal Man is excellent and the extended implication that reading Animal Man evidently gives you this cypher that allows you to suddenly understand and appreciate everything else he's ever written. Maybe there's some kind of drug embedded in the ink, I don't know. But I gave up mentioning him because, frankly, it's generally not worth my effort. There are tons of comics out there and I'm certainly not going to like every one. But somebody probably is going to like the stuff that I don't, and as long as they don't try to force them down my throat, not a big deal. To each his own.
Now, despite everyone raving about Animal Man, I've been burned by Morrison too often to actually pay to investigate it. But since Spencer was kind enough to give me those TPBs, I have every intention of trying to approach these books with an open mind. Since I didn't have to pay for them myself, I'm not out anything if I don't like them. No harm, no foul.
Whether or not I ultimately like Animal Man is something of a moot point, really. I'm curious to see why people fawn over it (and, consequently, Morrison himself) and my interest is in using these two books to guage what type of fan is drawn to Morrison's work. And, for that, I am quite grateful to Spencer -- it's not an avenue of fandom that I'd like pursue without some cajoling and, as always, I appreciate the opportunity to experiment!
I'll post my thoughts on the books after I've gotten a chance to read them.