Overview

Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1

Review

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Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1

Credits

  • Words: Richard Starkings
  • Art: Axel Medellin
  • Story Title: Man and Elephantman 1 (of3)
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Mar 30, 2011

Elephantmen, a creation of writer Richard Starkings back in 2006, has enjoyed a life on the fringe of popular comics for a few years now. One of those titles you’ve heard of, but maybe never tried. Comic circles discuss it and it pops up on a podcast or two, but you just can’t tackle its shipping schedule, so it slips your mind. Worry not. I’m here to tell you that the latest miniseries, Man and Elephantman, is the perfect jumping on point capturing a tone that is both fresh and worn in, like that favorite pair of shoes.

Recapping the title’s mythology efficiently and wonderfully in the first few pages, Starkings wastes no time in throwing his readers headfirst into the story. With exposition out of the way, we’re introduced to our hard-nosed hero, Hieronymus (Hip) Flask, a large anthropomorphic hippopotamus. As a member of the Information Agency, Hip is tasked with investigating crimes against and involving other Elephantmen. 

All of this info is gained in the first few pages. Right when a new reader adjusts to the status quo, Starkings pulls the rug out from under us and introduces us to the “real” Hip Flask, a bulking and grizzled human detective who works with the Elephantmen and isn’t one himself. Huh?

What transpires is a fun, noir-ish science fiction tale that involves gangsters, guns, dames, and a giant talking zebra with an eye patch. Really, what’s not to love? All kidding aside, Starkings, with art by Axel Medellin, creates such a rich and fantastical world but smartly grounds it with dirty details. Sure, it’s the future and there are giant animal-men running around, but everyone still wakes up each morning, takes a shower, and puts on that crummy tie for work. This is the working man’s distant future with less shine and more bruises. 

Medellin’s art is slightly reminiscent of the original series’ artist, Moritat (The Spirit). However, there is a muted palette to the proceedings that lends to an overall atmosphere of car exhaust and overcast clouds. Medellin has illustrated these characters many times before, having worked on the title’s previous incarnation as an ongoing. His work here is energetic and detailed. Starkings' wonderfully wild ideas are tempered down to the oddly believable with Medellin’s steady hand. They work together solidly, bringing forth the story and character from an easily dismissible premise.

Having missed the train on this book’s previous run, I found myself entertained with the speedy and smart way the story introduced itself. It was an inclusive, yet welcoming recap that actually blended into the current story’s first scene. All at once becoming prologue, catch-up, and a framing device for the issue’s larger arc. The craftsmanship of storytelling within these pages was a pleasant surprise and has earned Elephantmen a new reader. 

To those of you out there who had been curious about this title in the past, here’s your chance. I highly recommend not missing the train twice.

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