Real Name: Bernhard Baker
Identity/Class: Human mutate
Occupation: Professional superhero
formerly Movie stuntman
Affiliations: former member of The Forgotten Heroes (Cave Carson, Immortal Man, Dolphin, Dane Dorrance), the Justice League International, Justice League Europe,
ally of Vixen, Dolphin, Freedom Beast (formerly known as B'Wana Beast), Aquaman, Tristress, Swamp Thing, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Shade the Changing Man, Black Orchid
friend of Roger Denning
Enemies: Mirror Master, Queen Bee, Mod Gorilla Boss, Vandal Savage, the Forgotten Villains, the Time Commander, Shining Man, Spider Queen, Gamesman, Millenium Creature, Mageddon, Bernie Madden
Known Relatives: Ellen Frazier Baker (wife), Cliff (son), Maxine (daughter, a.k.a. Little Wing), unnamed second daughter, unnamed sister, Frank Baker Jr. (father), Phyllis (mother), Frank Sr (grandfather, deceased), Teddy (great grandfather, deceased), Sherman (great-great grandfather, deceased), Jack (great-great-great grandfather, deceased), Mary Frazier (mother-in-law), Dudley (uncle-in-law, deceased)
Aliases: Buddy, The Man With Animal Powers
Base of Operations: Montana
previously San Diego, California
First Appearance: Strange Adventures I #180 (DC, September 1965)
Powers/Abilities: Animal Man is able to mimic the powers of any animal he can think. He does this by tapping into "The Red" (a.k.a. the "Lifeweb" or the "porphogenetic field"), a kind of energy which is in contact with every animal that has ever lived on Earth. Thus he can even access the powers of extinct species. Theoretically he could even mimic creatures that have visited Earth from other planets, though he hasn't tried this yet.
Among the more common abilities he has gained have been superhuman strength, speed, flight, ability to breathe underwater, wall-crawling, enhanced senses, and regeneration of lost limbs. He has created sonic booms by mimicing the pistol shrimp, changed skin tones by mimicing chameleons, generated electricity like an electric eel, and even duplicated himself like a bacteria. He doesn't normally take on physical attributes (such as wings or gills), but has done so on occasion, or when he wants to (such as when he grew himself some claws).
He can also communicate and empathise with animals, allowing him to control them to a degree. He can even move his mind into an animal's body, which has been handy in keeping him alive in at least one case, when his human form was slain. This transfer can go the other way, sometimes overwhelming his human side with animal instincts.
History: Buddy Baker was a rebellious teenager, a punk rocker, who went hunting one afternoon in the Adirondack Mountains, and came back transformed into one of the most powerful superhumans on the Earth. For a long time Buddy believed he had encountered a crashing alien spaceship, and gained his powers from the explosion when it landed. Later he learned it might have been a powerful spell that mutated him, and the aliens were merely an hallucination. Or perhaps that's false, and it's something else. Buddy no longer knows.
However it happened, Buddy discovered he now had the ability to mimic the special powers of nearby animals. His best friend, Roger Denning, convinced him to create a costume and become a superhero, Animal Man. He had some minor success, but eventually he decided to retire and make a normal life. He married his high-school sweetheart Ellen, and they moved to San Diego, where they made a living as a stuntman and an illustrator respectively, and had a couple of children, Cliff and Maxine.
He returned to adventuring after discovering a mysterious golden pyramid. Contacted by the Immortal Man, he joined a group of Forgotten Heroes, who had likewise found similar pyramids, in destroying these artifacts, which proved to be a threat to the world. The group stayed together for a little while, battling other foes, but eventually drifted apart after the death of the Immortal Man.
Nonetheless, this taste of the hero life left Buddy feeling the world could still use Animal Man. He continued adventuring, mostly solo, but sometimes as part of the Justice League International. Partly because his powers gave him an empathy with animals, his activities took on a more radical, environmentalist stance - he worked with hunt saboteurs in England, stopped the slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands, and worked with both Vixen and the Freedom Beast on separate missions against oppresive African governments. Gradually he came to discover that his powers were far greater than he had previously realised, and learned he didn't need to be near an animal to access its powers.
However his radical stance had its price. When his animal rights group started a fire in a laboratory, a fireman died trying to extinguish the blaze. Buddy reconsidered his actions, if not his beliefs, and tried to quit being a superhero. Then a large corporation, unaware he had quit, decided to threaten his family's lives, to make him stop. It might have worked...if they hadn't carried through their threat. With his family dead, Buddy teamed up with his old foe, the Mirror Master, and took a bloody revenge. His grasp on reality shaken, he was then exposed to the madness of the Psycho-Pirate, the only person who remembered a reality-altering Crisis of recent times. The Pirate's memories of the worlds that had been destroyed were bringing everything back to life, threatening to overload all existence. In stopping this second Crisis, Buddy set in motion a chain of events which led to history being once more re-written, and his family restored to him.
Since then Buddy has spent a time trapped in an alternate world where America was run by a fascist government, faced the Shining Man and discovered his daughter is an "Animal Master" like him, with powers of her own. He's died and survived within the bodies of other animals until he could get a new body, attacked Washington D.C. while controlled by animal instincts, and started his own cult, the Church of Maxine. He recently rejoined the Forgotten Heroes, who had reformed now that the Immortal Man was alive again, to battle Vandal Savage and the Millennium Creature.
Comments: Why is this guy, an American creation, in the UK section? Because the definitive version of him was created by Scottish writer Grant Morrison, and it is his take on the character which has become the one most people know.
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
Animal Lad, British humorous strip character able to transform into a variety of creatures
Animal Man, Johnny Future foe
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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