Written by: Richard Starkings
Art by: Axel Medellin
Demons…we’ve all got ‘em. Some we’re born with. Others we pick up along the way. At some point though, you’ve gotta face ‘em. This is where we find Hip Flask and Agent Farrell in Elephantmen #52, the second chapter in the “Picking Up The Pieces” arc.
I love Elephantmen. This is a book that doesn’t talk down to its reader but doesn’t go out of its way to be overly intelligent. A “Pulp Science Fiction” comic that gives you the comic-booky goodness of a detective story mixed with science-fictiony mutated animals all while juggling the difficult topics of race, government and morality. It’s filled with intelligence and heart and at times challenges the reader to inspect the world around them and question the path humanity is taking.
This issue is quieter in the sense that it is contained to a singular setting but still hits many of the trademark targets for this series. Typically, this comic is full of ideas and threads and this one is no different. Richard Starkings touches all the bases here. From a quote by H.G Wells to a quote in Latin this book hits you from every angle.
Starkings presents the reader with the premise of the book through narration by a museum tour guide who explains the history of the Elephantmen, using this tool he’s presenting enough back story for new readers to get a grasp of the world their in — very smart. He continues to use this scenario as a way to show us how Hip Flask deals with being an “outsider.” While Flask soaks up his sordid history, we learn much more about Agent Farrell’s relationship with Scarlet, a ghost of a girlfriend who’s in his ear the whole issue as they slowly unveil the revelation of exactly what happened between them. In the midst of this nuanced tension there is a fight with an Elephantmen exterminating training robot. Like I said; all the bases.
Starkings brilliant storytelling wouldn’t be anything without Axel Medellin’s art adding to it. The emotion of this book is told through Medellin’s facial expressions and close ups. His ability to draw advanced technology and mutilated and mangled fetus’ help ground the story in a futuristic setting. He doesn’t do anything too flashy with panel layouts but some panels suffer from not having enough space to live in which causes some wonky perspective choices.
Review Score: 6 (out of 7)
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