Thursday, September 27, 2012

Elephantmen #43

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Axel Medellin and Dave Sim

I ended up with some pretty mixed feelings when it comes to the forty-third issue of Elephantmen.  First, it's wrapped in a beautiful cover by Brandon Graham, which got me very excited that he may have also done some of the interiors (sadly, he did not).  This is an amazing cover, and it actually depicts a version of an event that happens inside the comic, which is rare these days.

Elephantmen, a series following the travails of some transgenic 'Elephantmen' - former soldiers who are now integrated into human society - who work in law enforcement or organized crime, is often a mixed bag story wise, ranging wildly over a variety of themes and genres.  Right now, it seems that Richard Starkings is mostly interested in giving us an updated form of romance comic, as the series follows the relationships of Hip Flask and Miki (and maybe Vanity Case?), and Obadiah Horn and Sahara (with a dash of Panya tossed in).  The story continues to work on the plot involving the pursuit of the Silencer, a hired killer who has been murdering Elephantmen, but it's the romance angle that gets the most screen time.

Hip gets attacked by the Silencer at the beginning of the book, and spends some time in a Dave Sim-drawn dream, similar to Ebony's from the last issue.  This in itself is fine, but with multiple pages given over to showing details from the same drawing, it kind of felt like filler.  Miki, Hip's new girlfriend finds out that he also has a thing for his fellow officer, Vanity Case, and gets angry.  Meanwhile, Sahara, who is carrying Horn's baby, further imposes on her body-double (and pregnancy-double) Panya to basically become her.

There are other things happening in this book as well, such as a small retcon to establish that Hip, Horn, and Sahara all went to Mars once, and that Mister Purchase, Horn's robotic aide de camp, was originally constructed for that voyage.  I could be wrong, but I don't remember reading about this part of the Elephantmen's history before recently, and I'm not sure why it's being included now.  That's what bothered me with this book; that Starkings will often shoehorn information about the past into a story in a manner that is more distracting than informative.  The reference to Hip being an 'astronaut' made by the Silencer came out of nowhere, and felt out of place.

Artistically, this book is as good as it ever was, with an extended section of pin-ups from various conventions (including art by Becky Cloonan!) given to Starkings taking the place of meatier backmatter.  I think my problem with this issue comes down to the fact that it didn't live up to its wonderful cover.

No comments: