Richard Starkings and Axel Medellin give new readers a glimpse into the tragic and complicated world of the Elephantmen while also giving current fans a new thought provoking story.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1 - "The Devil of the Sixth Heaven"
Writer: Richard Starkings
Artist: Axel Medellin
Cover: Boo Cook
Variant Covers: Ed McGuinness, J. Scott Campbell, Ian Churchill, Richard Starkings
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 3/30/2011
$3.99 for 23 Elephantmen pgs
I love the idea of Elephantmen as a comic book because it has just the right amount of visually stimulating possibilities to go along with a wonderful piece of fictional story-telling.
With Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1, Richard Starking and Axel Medellin give new readers a quick introduction to the world of Elephantmen, and old readers are treated to some fresh examinations of where a central character's (Hip's) head is at.
Starting with the new reader's perspective, Starkings does well to condense the plot of Elephantmen down to four pages. With the help of Medellin's visual storytelling, Starkings sets up the world in which the following story will take place: a violent future with short term thinking (sounds like our current world). Medellin's panels help give perspective to the size and capabilities of the Elephantmen. One panel in particular depicts the Elephantment entering society as if they were immigrants entering America by way of Ellis Island. This helps establish the population's view point of the Elephantmen by defining them as "foreign." Immigrants have always been treated as lower-class citizens throughout the United States' history. Groups such as the Irish (in years past) and Hispanic groups in general (currently) have been dealing with hatred and bigotry simply because they are unknown. The use of this Ellis Island-like panel made for great story telling.
The issue does take a turn after the introduction sequence, sending the main character, Hip (he is a Hippopotamus mix), on a dramatic trip during which he wakes up to a world he is not suited for and does not belong.
The main part of the story, while having some entertaining moments for new readers such as a battle between man and beast, is better suited for current readers of the series. As an owner of the first few trades (which by the way are amazing and aesthetically stylish on one's bookshelf), I thoroughly enjoyed the look into Hip's thoughts and interpretations of characters I know. To a new reader they will get a run down on all of the key Elephantmen players, but they won't have the "oh really" moment that fans may get.
It's like when you watch a soap opera...so I hear. If you watch an episode you may understand a bit about a couple or set of evil twins which are brothers but also father and son (figure out how that one is possible), but you wouldn't understand the implications of what one character sleeping with another would mean.
Another, more obscure, example of this would be to read DC's Power Girl #7 and #8 (featuring Vartox) before ever seeing the movie Zardoz, starring Sean Connery. You can understand the comic book just fine, but you will miss-out on some many other things in the comic which draw from the film Zardoz, which would add to the reading experience.
So am I suggesting Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1?Y es. Get this issue because of the story which draws straight from our current societal animal-like tendencies and for the very unique art by Axel Medellin. If you are new to the Elephantmen world you may find yourself wanting to go back and collect the very thick, yet affordable priced, trades which include other artists and writer's contributions such as Joe Kelly, Moritat, Ladronn, and a personal favorite Chris Bachalo. If Elephantmen is already in your pull list then you will enjoy this look into the mind of Hip and what it may say about his future.
On a side note: If you ever see Richard Starkings at a convention, ask him for a sketch. One of the Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1 variants is done by Starkings, and though he made his name as first a letterer and now a writer...he also quite the artist. Take a look at Elephantmen's appearance schedule on their website hipflask.com.
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Review by: Dom G