|“||There I was in the wilderness -- attacking a ten-ton elephant that had gone berserk! A fool-hardy action for any man -- any normal man. But you see, I was more than that -- I had suddenly found myself gifted with incredible abilities that no mortal man had ever known, for... I was the man with animal powers.||„|
|~ Animal Man.|
|“||Listen, Ellen, I've been doing some thinking over the last couple of months... about my Animal Man powers and stuff... and, well, I've come to a decision. I want to go full time into the super-hero business.||„|
|~ Buddy to his wife, Ellen.|
|“||I never get sick of this. It doesn't matter how many times I dip into the Morphogenetic Field and take on an animal power, I still get that same rush I got the very first time I did it. Truth is, that's why I can't give up being Animal Man... It's too much fun.||„|
|~ Prime Earth Animal Man.|
Animal Man (real name Bernhard "Buddy" Baker), is a fictional character and superhero from DC comics and its universe.
He is an actor and stunt man who became the conduit for the Red, an energy field that all animals are connected to and allows him to draw abilities from any creature in existence. Though originally benefiting from his powers with his friends, he decided to become a full time superhero, and also a member of the Justice League, Forgotten Heroes, Justice League Europe, and the Justice League Dark. The character is also known for breaking the fourth wall when written by Grant Morrison.
He was created by Dave Wood and the late Carmine Infantino, and first appeared in Strange Adventures #180 in September of 1965.
Buddy Baker was originally a teenage punk musician who was out hunting with his friends when an alien spacecraft crash-landed near him. The radiation from the spaceship affected the young man on a molecular level, granting him the ability to mimic animal biology.
With superheroes now a major part of popular culture, Buddy and his friends come up with the name Animal Man and use his powers to draw attention to their band. Unfortunately, Animal Man was never as big a hit as other superheroes, so Buddy hung up his tights, found employment as a stuntman and married his high-school sweetheart, Ellen. The two also had two children called Cliff and Maxine.
Ten years later, Buddy was given the chance to come out of retirement when a specimen from Star Labs was stolen by a vigilante known as B'Wana Beast. Buddy agreed to help them, but when he saw that the scientists were performing live experiments on chimpanzees, he began to have doubts about whose side he should be on. This was exacerbated when he found out that the scientists were developing biological weapons and were actually trying to kill their subjects. Buddy tracked down B'Wana Beast and the chimp he had kidnapped. The two fought, but the disease from the dying chimp had gotten to B'Wana Beast and would have killed him if not for Buddy using his animal powers to strengthen his immune system. Afterwards, Buddy punched out the head scientist in a fit of rage and declared Animal Man back in business.
Animal Man soon became a spokesman for animal rights, going vegetarian and aiding environmentalists in fighting poachers. When he had spare time, he fought the occasional criminal, but found out that most of them were just tragic figures trying to make a name for themselves in an increasingly bizarre world. After helping some eco-terrorists blow up an animal testing lab, Ellen told Buddy that a firefighter sustained critical injuries. Buddy realized that he was becoming a role model for the wrong kinds of people so he attempted to retire once again, only to find his life growing increasingly bizarre time by time.
Animal Man was propelled through a series of events that led him to realize the shocking truth: he was a character in a comic book! After coming to terms with this, Buddy came home to find that his entire family had been assassinated. After going through a severe depression, Buddy donned a darker Animal Man costume and got his revenge on the men who organized the hit on his family. Still unable to cope with his loss, Animal Man acquired a time machine and tried to go back in time to warn both his family and himself, only to find that he was little more than a ghost in the past.
Arriving back in the present, Animal Man then travelled to a dimension between the comic world and the real world, where he met Grant Morrison, the writer of the Animal Man series at that point. Animal Man pleaded his case, wondering why the person that had been controlling his life up to that point would torment him so. Morrison stated that it was more entertaining to watch heroes in pain. Animal Man tried to attack him but found out that all of his movements were pre-determined and ineffective. Morrison, feeling sorry for his character, decided to give him what he needed most: a happy ending. Animal Man was then sent back to his world, where Ellen, Cliff and Maxine were waiting for him.
After Infinite Crisis, Animal Man was left stranded in space with fellow superheroes Adam Strange and Starfire. The two were nearly eaten alive by the giant Devilance and almost stranded in space when a newly-reformed Lobo agreed to guide them home. The four were intercepted by an alien entity known as Lady Styx and Buddy was killed, but moments later was revived, this time with the ability to mimic alien life-forms. After reuniting with Starfire and Adam Strange, the three arrived on Earth.
Starfire, having lost most of her powers travelling home, was allowed to stay with the Baker family. This put pressure on Buddy's relationship with Ellen, as she was clearly intimidated by Starfire's beauty. When the townsfolk began exhibiting hostile behavior, Animal Man and Starfire recognized this as the work of Lady Styx. When Starfire manages to fully recharge her powers, the two thwart Lady Styx.
- In DC Nation Shorts, he was voiced by "Weird Al" Yankovic, who also voiced Milo Murphy in the titular animated series, Milo Murphy's Law, Blumfump in Voltron, and Cheese Sandwich in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
- Grant Morrison often had the character break the fourth wall.