Elephantmen #1


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Elephantmen #1


  • Words: Richard Starkings
  • Art: Moritat
  • Inks: Moritat
  • Colors: Moritat
  • Story Title: See the Elephant
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 19, 2006

The genetically engineered Elephantman named Ebony Hide walks the streets of Santa Monica, desperately trying to escape his past and find some hope for the future.

Set in the world of Richard Starkings and Ladroon’s Hip Flask, Elephantmen is a companion series focusing on various supporting characters. The Elephentmen themselves are human/animal hybrids, genetically engineered to be the soldiers of the evil MAPPO Corporation. Now liberated, rehabilitated and released into society, the Elephantman known as Ebony Hide encounters a young girl in the streets of Santa Monica. Will this chance encounter serve to give Ebony hope for the future, or only further remind him of the differences between his people and humanity?

Coming into this book, I had absolutely no background on Hip Flask or the related characters. From that perspective, Starkings has done an excellent job in creating a first issue for this anthology series that gives new readers a sense of the history behind the world, but doesn’t let the story get bogged down by it. From the third page, Ebony comes across as a very likeable, albeit, sad character. Through his conversation with the little girl, Savannah, Ebony’s tragic back-story is revealed in a series of poignant vignettes. Ebony’s answers to Savannah’s ongoing barrage of innocent questions are stilted and short, but his gentle and kind mannerisms create a powerful contrast. Similarly, the intense, violent and graphic vignettes help accentuate the quiet, sad walk of the protagonist. Given the obvious metaphor of the story, the ending is well foreshadowed, but wrapped up with an appropriate ending that leaves a small, melancholy glimmer of hope.

The short back-up flip story, "Just Another Guy Named Joe," is an appropriate companion piece, focusing the narrative on a man that hates the Elephantmen for "all the jobs taken away from honest Americans…" A brief but strong mood piece, this story is also a nice introduction to the mood of the Hip Flask world.

As pointed out in the comic itself, Ladroon, the artist typically associated with Hip Flask, is not directly involved with Elephantmen, but clearly, the artistic chores have been passed to capable hands. Moritat’s Santa Monica becomes a living extension of the story’s tone – a city of people and lights in which, on a cold rainy night, Ebony is completely alone. Moritat imbues Ebony with a strong physical presence, enabling the protagonist to be monstrous in the flashbacks, gentle in the present, and still retain the consistency that these extremes are housed within the same man (er, Elephantman). The two strongest aspects of the art however are the soulful eyes of Ebony and the incredible coloring (especially the background of the sun rising in the North Africa "stampede" scene).

Featuring poignant storytelling and gorgeous art, Elephantmen #1 is a superb done-in-one comic that imbues a fantastic concept with real emotion.

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