Unofficial Biography ANIMAL MAN [Bernhard "Buddy" Baker]
 Created by Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino

Animal Man

Personal Data


Real Name: Bernhard "Buddy" Baker
Occupation: Unknown; former movie stuntman, professional superhero, religious icon
Marital Status: Married
Known Relatives: Ellen Frazier Baker (wife), Cliff (son), Maxine a.k.a. Little Wing (daughter), unnamed second daughter, Frank Baker Jr. (father), Phyllis (mother), unnamed sister, 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), Annie Cassidy (mother of second daughter), Lucy Cassidy (half-sister of second daughter).
Base of Operation: Last in Montana; Formerly Pownal, Vermont, and San Diego, California
Group Affiliation: The Animal Masters, the Forgotten Heroes (frequent member), Justice League International/Europe (former member), an unnamed animal activist group (former member), the Life Power Church of Maxine (current status unknown), JLA (ally)
Height: Normally 5'11"
Weight: Normally 172 lbs.
Eyes: Normally blue
Hair: Normally blond (was white with black stripes for some time)
First Appearance: Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965)

Profile written by Ola Hellsten with special thanks to Tiberius

Contents

PERSONAL DATA
OVERVIEW
HISTORY
POWERS AND WEAPONS
CHRONOLOGY

Overview

  No-one is exactly sure what gave Animal Man his powers - the ability to mimic the natural abilities of nearby animals for a limited period of time - but he has put them to good use. In his life as a stuntman they could have come in quite useful, but he chose to use them first as a traditional hero, and sometimes member of the Justice League, and later as a crusader for animal rights and other environmental issues. He has a close connection to the animal life of this planet, which can sometimes prove more useful than his flashier powers. He has a family, who generally support him in his heroic actions - his wife Ellen is fairly fond of the Martian Manhunter.

History

  Few people have lived such a varied life as Buddy Baker. The superhero. The family man. The animal rights activist. The scourge of human society. The religious symbol. The cosmic philosopher. All parts of what he is first and foremost: the Animal Man.

  Even the origin of his powers is uncertain after all these years. Was it an alien spaceship that exploded in his face, imbuing him with radioactivity? Or a spell of an ancient animal master shaman, connecting him with the Lifeweb? Or was it an even greater force behind all this? Buddy's memories have been obscured by various events in his life, periods of amnesia, periods in coma, transformations, deaths and rebirths, encounters so strange he has not been able to grasp the proportions of them...

  What is known is that, in his late teens, Buddy was a happy hellraising punk rocker. One fall afternoon he went hunting in the Adirondack Mountains... and when he returned home, he had changed. Whatever it was, something in the woods had connected him to what is variously referred to as the Red, the Lifeweb, or the Morphogenetic Field - the force that binds together every living animal on Earth. Encountering some escaped animals from a nearby zoo, Buddy discovered that in the presence of an animal, he was able to absorb its special abilities. He was now the Man With Animal Powers.

  At the suggestion of his best friend, Roger Denning, Buddy donned an orange-and-blue costume (and on occasion, a black one) starting a minor career as the superhero Animal Man. Partly for kicks, partly as a way to promote their rock band, Buddy actually managed to do several heroic deeds, ranging from foiling a few robberies at the local pet store, to battling actual space aliens and odd crooks such as the Mod Gorilla Boss.

  After a few years of adventuring, Buddy retired his Animal Man identity, married his high-school girlfriend, Ellen Frazier, and moved to San Diego. Living on the salary from Ellen's work as an illustrator and Buddy's newly-started career as a movie stuntman, the couple mortgaged a house in the suburbs and raised two children, Cliff and Maxine.

  Buddy thought his superhero days over, but that was to change. After stumbling on an ancient golden pyramid, he was contacted by the mysterious Immortal Man. Joining up with other has-been adventurers - including Cave Carson, Dane Dorrance, and Dolphin - who had encountered similar pyramids around the world, Animal Man became part of the organization called the Forgotten Heroes. Under Immortal Man's direction, the group was able to destroy the pyramids, saving the world in the process. For a time, the group stayed together, opposing threats such as Vandal Savage and the Forgotten Villains. During the world-shattering event known as the Crisis, Immortal Man (seemingly) sacrificed his life, and soon after, the Forgotten Heroes disbanded.

  Buddy returned to his family life, although the thought of superheroics was still nagging in his head. He wanted to make a difference, but had to support his family as well. Convinced that there was still a place for Animal Man in this world, Buddy resumed his full-time superhero career, battling villains such as the new Mirror Master and a delirious B'wana Beast. He also assisted in foiling the Invasion of Earth by the Alien Alliance. Still not satisfied, Buddy made the decision to become a protector of animal life on Earth. He sabotaged foxhunting in England, dolphin slaughter on the Faroe Islands, and animal experiments all over the USA. He worked with Vixen to overthrow the government of M'Changa, and with the Freedom Beast to oppose the apartheid powers of South Africa. About this time, he learned from a scientist named James Highwater that his powers were greater than he initially had believed, due to his previously unknown contact with the Morphogenetic Field.

  Becoming a member in good standing of the European branch of Justice League International (which he could access via a teleporter in his basement), he was also able to draw a monthly salary. As part of the JLE, he battled the Queen Bee, the Time Commander, and the wrath of Dr. Irwin Teasdale. The media wrote lots about him and his popularity increased. Everything was going his way...

  ...And then it wasn't anymore. After a fireman had accidentally been killed in a fire started by his animal activist group, a shocked Buddy began to reconsider the path he had chosen. Though still a convinced vegetarian, environmentalist and animal rights activist, he asked himself if superheroics and illegal sabotage activities were the right ways to go. Refusing to become a role model, he quit the Justice League and the activist group, attempting to hang up his superhero costume for good.

  Then, when a corporate organization (worried about the popularity of the left-wing Animal Man) threatened to kill his family if he did not stop doing his deed, Buddy teamed up with the Mirror Master to oppose them. Suddenly, he found himself in the role of a hero once again, getting tangled up in saving the world from a second Crisis at the hands of the Psycho-Pirate, and ultimately, believe it or not, learning the fact that he was a comic book character. He even got to meet his writer, Grant Morrison, in person.

  Naturally, Buddy was not allowed to remember such revelations for long. Some time after these events, he woke up from a coma with amnesia. This would have been his return to normal life, had it not been for the fact that the world he woke up in was that of an alternate Buddy Baker. In this world, Ellen had divorced him, America was controlled by a right-extremist corrupt government, and Buddy himself had no control over his powers. After a series of weird adventures, Buddy finally returned to "his" world.

  Once again a movie stuntman, Buddy continued as a part-time superhero, but his life was to get weirder still. His powers continued to malfunction; birds died when he was flying, he absorbed animal behavior and appearance unexpectedly, and animals around him acted strange. After his powers accidentally had killed every animal on the San Diego Zoo, Buddy and his family moved to Ellen's mother's farm in Pownal, Vermont. Later, it was revealed that the reason for this "animal weirdness" was the coming of a hostile Animal Antagon, a.k.a. the Shining Man. During this course of events, Buddy encountered a Native American shaman named "Stone That Cracked Open the Earth Like an Egg", who revealed that Buddy was one of a group of chosen called the Animal Masters, destined to be the guardians of nature. Together with fellow Animal Masters Vixen and Tristess, Animal Man was able to defeat the Shining Man, who had already corrupted, possessed, and killed B'wana Beast, still another Animal Master. He also learned that his daughter Maxine was an Animal Master as well, developing powers similar to his own.

  Settling down at the farm in Vermont, Buddy's next mission was to fetch back his son Cliff, who had been kidnapped by Ellen's insane uncle Dudley. While looking for his son, Buddy was run over by Dudley's car and actually died. His life-force survived, however, and after many months living in the bodies of various animals, he was reborn as a hybrid animal and saved Cliff. Later, he was able to re-create his original body.

  Still, Buddy was now legally deceased, which he did not really mind. He had tired of city life and superheroics, being content to live in peace on the farm with his reunited family. Fearing that nature would inevitably get rid of the vermin called humans, he started thinking of ways to make them understand what they were doing to their planet. Ellen's mother's farm became something of an "ark", a refuge for outcasts who did not fit in anywhere. Among them was a woman named Annie Cassidy, who also stood in contact with the Red, and her daughter Lucy, who started a relationship with Cliff.

  More and more, Buddy felt the animal instincts in him taking over. Overwhelmed by the power of the Red, Buddy and Annie made love to each other. The strengthened connection to the Red made Buddy step over the line, and once again adopt the appearance of a hybrid animal. Flying in rage to Washington D.C., he plagued the city with all kinds of animals, threatening humanity to change their ways or go under. At the end, the authorities captured him, but he was released soon after, partly due to a lot of compassion from many Americans, who believed this "Animal Man" had a point.

  Then, Annie came up with an idea; Buddy wanted to change the ways of humanity, they all wanted to make a difference, and they already had many followers. Why not start a cult, or a religion, with Buddy as an "enraged prophet" and Maxine as the savior - the Life Power Church of Maxine? Though they met a lot of resistance from the authorities, the Church immediately grew in popularity, especially among young people. Ellen could not cope with all this, especially not after Buddy revealed that he had had kind of an "affair" with Annie. Alienated by their community, and the forces she did not understand, she finally broke up with Buddy - at least temporarily. Buddy, Maxine, Cliff, Annie, Lucy, and their followers traveled across the state, picking up countless new "disciples" and rebelling animals in a wild caravan on Route 66. Dubbed "the Red Plague" by the media, they finally settled down as a Church in Montana.

  After this, Buddy entered what we can refer to as his "cosmic phase". Once again, he died and was reborn, this time with a white-and-black-striped hair. While his friends worked with the Church's activities on Earth, Buddy became less aggressive, making an odyssey through various realms in search for universal truth. He had many revelations from agents of higher power, among them a spiritual bulldog named Mister Cow (!) Ultimately battling an evil called the Spider Queen, Buddy finally realized that the truth was inside him. Just as diamonds and coal are the same substance, so is the divine and the human. Buddy, as well as anybody else, was the Body of God and the Soul of the World. With this knowledge, he easily defeated the Spider Queen. Shortly after, Annie gave birth to his second daughter, supposedly a human incarnation of the World Soul.

  The next time Buddy appeared, a competitive supervillain called the Gamesman had kidnapped Maxine, just for playing a hunting game with Buddy. With the help of Aquaman, Buddy was able to defeat the Gamesman and save Maxine. In the process, he guided the temporarily blind Aquaman, making him realize he had elemental connections.

  Maybe this adventure was the spark that Buddy needed to return to his superhero life, because a few months later, Animal Man appeared in public again, dressed in his old colorful garb, and once again with blond hair. He has assisted the JLA on several occasions, even helping them saving the universe in their battle against Mageddon. At the start of the new millennium, Buddy attended a party together with the Swamp Thing, Shade the Changing Man, Black Orchid, and other fringe heroes. Together they helped stopping the coming of a new strange world as envisioned by a Bernie Madden. He has also rejoined the Forgotten Heroes, joining the Immortal Man and Resurrection Man in battle against Vandal Savage and the Millennium Creature. Buddy remains a semi-active member of the Forgotten Heroes, joining up with other members when the need arises.

  When last seen, Animal Man assisted Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman in a case regarding the Animal Avatars on Earth.

  It seems as if Buddy Baker is trying to turn his back on weirdness, attempting to resume a "normal" superhero life. More often than not he lives a rather regular life, a proto-slacker, idealist, and family man who likes spicy Mexican food and R.E.M. music. But if history is any evidence, weirdness will inevitably find its way back into Buddy's existence.

  The current whereabouts of his family and his friends, as well as the status of the Life Power Church, are unknown.

Powers and Weapons

  Buddy (as well as Maxine), stands in direct contact with the Red/Lifeweb/Morphogenetic Field of Earth. Hence, he can mimic any abilities of any animal, either by focusing on a specific animal near him, or, as he learnt later, by drawing power directly from the Red. Since the Red is part of every animal that has ever walked the Earth, flown the air, or swum the sea, Animal Man can even mimic the abilities of extinct species.

  Among the "animal powers" Buddy has been known to use are: the strength of a T-Rex, the flight of a bird, the swimming ability of a fish, the speed of an ant, the wall-crawling of a spider, the jumps of a flea, the sonic blast of a pistol shrimp, the sense of smell of a moth, the stench of a skunk, the color changing of a chameleon, the agility of a snake, the electricity of an electric eel, the worm's ability to replace lost body parts, and even the reproduction abilities of bacteria. He does not have to use wings to fly as a bird, or gills to breathe as a fish underwater, but occasionally he has been known to mimic the actual appearances of animals - for example adopting the claws of a wolverine temporarily.

  In addition to his mimic abilities, Animal Man can make contact with animals, empathize with, "talk" to, and, to a lesser degree, control them. He can also transfer his mind to living animals of any kind, using their bodies as long as he wants to. This ability to transfer his life essence has allowed him to survive even when his body has been killed.

  A drawback of Animal Man's powers is that he is not always able to control the inputs from the Red. Sometimes, he has absorbed unwanted animal behavior, such as instinctive rage or rut. The longer he stays in contact with the Red, the less man and more animal he seems to become. He has frequently felt alienated to the human race, something which once made him declare war against our destructive civilization.

  Since man is as much an animal as anything else, Buddy could possibly use his powers on human beings as well, but for unknown reasons, he has avoided doing that to this day. Nor is it known what would happen if Buddy would try to use his abilities on an alien animal, or if he would get access to the Morphogenetic Field of another planet.

  Potentially, Animal Man disposes of the universe's primal forces. On rare occasions, he has been able to tap into the raw power of the Red, draw pure energy from it and emit it as blasts of force. His abilities once even allowed him to create an entire universe, in cooperation with fellow animal masters Vixen and Tristess. If he were to use the full extent of his powers, Animal Man could very well be one of the mightiest beings on Earth. As it is now, the "man" in him puts a limit to his power.

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