Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman 1
Martin Skidmore — 20-Apr-11
This is kind of a fake #1, and it fooled me. It’s sort of #30, really (and next issue is #31), but at least they give you a decent text intro so you know where you are: with some human/animal (mostly not elephants) hybrids created for a war that has now ended, and these ex-soldiers are struggling for a place in human society. Well, apparently they are – we see only one crude sign of any prejudice, and plenty of success.
Our protagonist is Hip Flask, a detective and hippo-man. Except in the story here he’s human, but it’s all a dream. This means this jumping-on-point story gives us nothing we can reliably take as being part of his world, which strikes me as bizarrely unhelpful, though I suppose it tells us about Hip’s fantasies or some such. Maybe the dream is entirely accurate and realistic, which would be a strange thing to do with a dream sequence, and I can’t quite see the point if that is so.
The style is hardboiled crime in the future, complete with a hot (often naked) girlfriend (don’t know if that’s true when Hip looks like a hippo), trenchcoats, guns and a rich corporate bad guy with a rather Spiritesque girlfriend called Sahara, with whom Hip has history. The writing is surprisingly clunky a lot of the time, and I couldn’t quite get interested in the characters even before knowing it was all dream sequence.
I didn’t care for the art, either: unlike the bold cover, it’s all muddily painted inside, and very dull indeed, contrary to Starkings’ desperate hype in the editorial pages.
There’s a flip-book bonus with this, presumably a teaser for Charley Loves Robots, about a kid who loves robots but has to spend the summer with his grandad, who hates them. It’s prettier than the main book, quite colourful and cartoony, but there’s nothing much to it.
This is pretty vacuous throughout, to be honest. If hardboiled crime cliches with animal characters are your thing, and you like muddily painted art, I suppose you might like this, but I couldn’t care much less.