Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman Review
- Published on Friday, 01 April 2011 08:00
- Written by Andrenn
After a few years of people recommending that I read Elephantmen, I have finally gotten into this series. Now comes the Man and Elephantman one-shot to bring on new readers. Is this a one-shot that everyone should pick up to attract them to this great series or is this creature best left in a cage? Let's find out.
Writer: Richard Starkings
Artist: Axel Medellin
Story Rating: 7 Elephantmen out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Elephantmen out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Elephantmen out of 10
The Good: Man and Elephantman was a fun introduction to the world of Elephantmen. Starkings set out to make a new-reader friendly issue and he succeeded with flying colors as Man and Elephantman is a perfect jumping on point. Though it sacrifices a bigger plot it makes up for it by being a good one-shot read and a great showcase of the series' great characters.
The tale in this one-shot is pretty simple. Hip Flask wakes up one day as a human instead of an Elephantman. From there we see a day in the life if he was human. The story itself is straight forward and it goes from scene to scene with ease. The thing is that it is such a basic story that if not for being written so well I would not have enjoyed it so much. Starkings takes a simple story and yet still makes a fun read out of it.
What really makes this issue work is the character work. Starkings joins the ranks of writers like Ron Marz and Allan Allan Heinberg that can make an overall simple read into a lot of fun to read solely on the characters and reading their interactions. It is easier said than done for most writers out. Starkings recognizes that the characters in Elephantmen are the heart of the story and he shows them off as best as he can.
One of my favorite lines is when Hip describes Miki for a moment. It is a simple line about how she looks past the superficial stuff about him, but it is a great line that is the perfect reminder on why I like the character so much. Starkings crafted a big world with Elephantmen and he filled it with characters that are always fun to follow.
The main objective of the one-shot is to be new-reader friendly. This is both its best and worst quality. It is great that this is a perfect jumping on point. But, the result is that we spend 80% of the time on catching new readers up with the various characters. Still, as a new-reader friendly issue, Starkings does a good job of catching people up without just giving the reader a text dump and nothing interesting going on. He does his best to tell a good story to go along with all the exposition.
From opening up with a recap of the war that birthed the Elephantmen to discussing the history between Hip and Sahara, Starkings does his best to make sure all that has happened before is revealed. I knew about most of this thanks to the magic of the internet and reviews about the series over the years. However, if I were a new reader who had never touched the series before then this issue did a good job of educating me on the series.
There are some great character moments in this issue, but it all focuses around Hip Flask as we see his life as a human. Now the story moves by pretty fast up to the end but it works for a brilliant final line from Hip as he looks back on the experience. Hip has a big revelation about humanity and the world they live in alongside Elephantmen and it is pretty huge. It is a clever line and seeing Hip's journey to reach that conclusion was great.
As I said, this is totally new reader friendly so there's no need to worry about whatever previously happened to be lost. Starkings pulls off a great jumping on point and does a good job of fitting as much info as he can. Even onto the very last page he gets in a brief bit of dialogue to introduce new readers to one of the big villains. I was very impressed with how new reader friendly this issue was.
Axel Medellin has quickly won me over and has become one of those great artists to follow now. His painted artwork is absolutely gorgeous. From drawing the war, to drawing Hip at home with Miki and all the way to the final page, this is excellent artwork. Elephantmen has done a great job at making me a fan of Medellin's art.
The Bad: There is not too much bad to say about Man and Elephantman. Its one big flaw is that it has to spend the majority of its time catching new readers up on what has come before and, therefore, the plot itself is very simple.
My one real complaint with this is that I wish Starkings had delved deeper into this idea of a world where Hip is human. Whats his interaction with Ebony like? What about other characters? I felt like Starkings had a brilliant idea but he only scratched the surface of it.
I also was not a fan of how Starkings used Sahara for this story. When you see what is really going on it makes perfect sense why she would act that way but it is a bad introduction for her to the new readers. Sahara is another favorite of mine. She is a great and strong character but that is not really shown in this story. Again, when you read the full story it makes sense why but I think this will give new readers the wrong idea about Sahara which is a shame.
I was hoping that we would see what happens next after what happened last issue with Hip and Miki. But. this is a small complaint as this one-shot exists to get people into the series and the next issue will no doubt deliver what I was hoping for.
Overall: Elephantmen is a great science-fiction series. I am not always big on sci-fi. But, the dark dreary world of Mystery City and the Elephantmen that live inside it has really won me over. I would recommend this one-shot to just about anyone interested in a great series like Elephantmen with wonderful characters. It is a quick and fun read. A near perfect introduction to this excellent series. I think this issue will make more readers fans of Elephantmen if they give this issue a chance.