Friday, February 27, 2009

Elephantmen #16

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Chris Burnham

One of the things that makes Elephantmen so interesting for me is that it is decidedly non-linear in the way it goes about telling its stories. There is the main storyline, featuring Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and the others, but there are a myriad of sub-plots and back-up characters who often get entire issues devoted to them, regardless of where or when that story takes place in the larger tapestry of this series (which, we should remember, is really just a companion to the Hip Flask series of graphic novels). Sometimes, the series stops altogether for a while, and we get something like War Toys, a mini-series set long before the action in the main series.

In this issue, the focus is on The Silencer, the assassin that was seen in a much earlier issue of the title. We get to learn a lot more about who he is, and how he got to the position he is in right now. The story riffs on a Raymond Chandler type set-up, and seems at first glance to have little to do with the next issue, which is going to be about the missing Tusk.

I have the feeling that the Silencer is going to become a major player in the series, and I like the way that Starkings is doing nothing to tip his hand as to where this title is going. That said, there is a line at the top of the cover saying that this is part 1 of an 8-part 'Dangerous Liaisons' arc, but I'm not sure if the next issue will be part of that or not. Like I said, the title is non-linear.

The art in this issue is by Chris Burnham, ably coloured by someone named Tatto Caballero. They work very well together, matching the general look we saw when Moritat was on the book for the framing sequence, but then switching both the art style and palette for the flashback part of the story. I actually checked to make sure that it was the same people providing the art for this scene, which I found to be really interesting. The flashback I found to be very reminiscent of Will Eisner, which I enjoyed.

This issue also has a Sleeze Brothers story, which I didn't much care for (not my kind of thing), and a very nice essay about the late Archie Goodwin, a man I met once at a signing when I was a kid, and who I remember for his kindness and generosity (somewhere I have his autograph with a little self-portrait he drew for me).

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