I did like the first volume of Morrison's Animal Man, but volume two blows it out of the water. I've expressed before my normal mix of annoyance and admiration that Morrison usually leaves me with, but this time it really does come together.
Much of the book is taken up with Buddy's political activism, mostly expressed through animal rights causes. (There's an issue dealing with apartheid, too.) Maybe in some other books, with some other heroes, this would feel belabored, false to what the book is trying to do. Not here. Of course a guy who absorbs abilities from nearby animals and calls himself Animal Man is going to be a vegetarian and animal rights activist. And at no point does Morrison make Buddy unbelievably preachy, as opposed to realistically passionate.
Obviously, there's something else building, which I have of course heard of before. At this point, it's hard to go into Animal Man without knowing that Morrison was going to have Buddy lean on the fourth wall until it fell over. But it's a more gradual build up than I'd been expecting, and there are really only a few hints scattered through that telegraphs where this is going. (The Psycho Pirate being afraid to sleep, because he might be written out of continuity if he does, and the aliens responsible for Buddy's powers consciously rewriting his reality and referencing a "crisis" that altered reality. That sort of thing.) I started reading this out of curiosity, and now I can't wait to see where this is headed.
But I wouldn't care as much if I didn't like Buddy, and his family. They don't show up quite as much here as I remember them doing in the previous volume, but they do make an impression. The issue where they're haunted by an echo of the pre-Crisis Buddy is particularly affecting.
As a sidenote, I'd already read #49, the second to last issue in this volume. It was collected as part of [b:52: The Companion|1424421|52 The Companion|Grant Morrison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1343783028s/1424421.jpg|1414860]. It's a great issue, and reading it was one of the things that convinced me it was time that I finally read Morrison's Animal Man. So I guess that collection did something good after all.