Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Elephantmen #41

by David Hine

I've always meant to get around to reading David Hine's Strange Embrace, and as a way of reminding me to do that, Richard Starkings gave him this whole issue of Elephantmen to show off his particular talents as a cartoonist.

This stand-alone issue is concerned with Javier Kubec, the one-time assistant to Kazushi Nikken, the Dr. Mengele figure who was responsible for the creation of the Elephantmen.  When Nikken was stopped, and the Elephantmen liberated, Kubec went into hiding, assuming the name Claude Bernard, after the scientist who pioneered the art of vivisection.  When this issue opens, Kubec is a bed-ridden old man who has only months left to live.

He is found one day by a mysterious man who is interested in recording his life story.  For a while, that's exactly what happens, before the mysterious figure decides that Kubec deserves some punishment for what he has done.

Usually Elephantmen is a first-rate science fiction comic, but with this issue, Hine turns it more into a horror comic, exploring themes of guilt, responsibility, and the tendency of human civilizations to worship hybrid human/animal figures.  This is a strikingly effective issue, and the change in tone works very well.  Hine's art is great - his style feels mercurial, at some times heavily influenced by Kirby, but at others feeling very contemporary.  This was a very cool issue, and I guess it's time to track Strange Embrace down...

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