Elephantmen 2260 Book 5
Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Carlos Pedro
Colours: Axel Medellin
Publisher: Image Comics
El•e•phant•men [el-uh-fuhnt-men] noun:
1. transgenics; human/animal hybrids, genetically engineered by the MAPPO Corporation for military deployment in the Afro-Sino War(2239-2243). rehabilitated by the United Nations, these creatures were gradually inculcated into human society.
Were you, like me, in floods of tears come the end of Watership Down? Any of you absorbed by the smoke-filled atmosphere of the hard-boiled Blacksad? Ever fancied a royal rumble between a pissed off rhino and a giant warthog? If you’ve answered yes to at least two of those questions, then I’ve got a feeling The Elephantmen series might just be for you. It’s is a treat of epic proportions. Anyone who hasn’t picked up an issue before won’t have a problem jumping in with this book. It covers the comic from #70 to #76 though the storylines are neither chronological nor attached to one character in particular, which gives a broader view into their world, its society, and its larger than life characters, who I’ll focus on first.
The characters and storylines are absorbing. We meet a P.I. who could’ve been straight out of Chinatown, albeit an anthropomorphic mirror world of Chinatown. The bizarreness of the fact that we’re following the exploits of a hippo/human hybrid is soon forgotten when we are thrown straight into the case of the white elephant. The tension is repeatedly notched up with the introduction of genre typical characters, albeit in untypical guises, and the dialogue is realistic and without a need for bombastic, over the top cliches. The characters in the following storylines seem to follow this pattern; likeable, believable, with depth, and, as is often the case, harder boiled than a stick of rock from Blackpool pier. We gain an understanding of what makes these complex creatures tick, and with forays into their history, as well as the background to the hybrid programme, the writers have developed a ‘universe’ that really left me wondering about the possibilities.
The pencilling is second to none. Highly controlled lines leaves detail that other artists spend a lifetime trying to perfect. Just check out the detail on the animal skins, where sweat and scars add another layer to their characters. In fact, detail is the buzzword here. Every storyline has its own captivating sequences that left me poring over every frame. Though a particular highlight has to be a drug-hazed hover-flight by a zebra hybrid in pursuit of a vengeful twin. In this sequence more than any other, we also feel the full force of the colouring. As you might expect, the psychedelic palate holds no bars and we’re made to feel like we’re going on the journey too, in glorious technicolour. In other sequences, the shading and dulled hues add to the 1930’s styled atmosphere. The clever juxtaposition of this styling added to a future setting only brings about a satisfying glow to the whole book. The burning sun seems to burn with a worrying glare; the rain, we suspect, is tainted with the weight of possible nuclear wars. But all of this is strangely reminiscent due to the 30’s references.
Lettering is an art that Starkings clearly gets. Text boxes are smaller than average and an obvious result is that they do not distract from the action or vistas. The dialogue is often overtaken by thought boxes and background fills. This, again, is tucked away into empty parts of the page and is logical! Great job.
All in all, the book isn’t just a future fantasy romp. It’s thoughtful and hides a deeper urgency that human characters would have struggled to cope with, as they would have perhaps been lost in cliches. We are left feeling something for the hybrid characters as they were made, designed by humans then watched on as their futures hung in the balance. It’s sad, really. But sad in a really great way.
Thank you for reading our review of Elephantmen 2260 Book 5. We here at the Chico Comics Page appreciate your viewership. We invite you to come back soon as we post regularly or follow us on Facebook (The Chico Comics Page) and/or Twitter (@ChicoComicsPage) for regular updates on all of our posts.
Review written by Arun S.