Eric's Comic Review: Elephantmen #30
Published: March 9, 2011 - 10:30am
Elephantmen #30 is a great issue from the noir fantasy comic barring one pretty predominate misgiving. As the end of the Questionable Things arc, it increases the scale of the series and leaves a lot of promise for things to come. For a comic whose main protagonist is a talking hippo, this continues to be smart, literate, and enthralling.
Richard Starkings' script is solid and engaging. The noir mixes well with conspiracy and a few self-referential jokes (i.e. There's a Joe Camel.). He's created a world in which bipedal talking animals don't evoke unintentional laughter, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. In this particular issue, everything from previous offerings is being pieced together to heighten the stakes at a boiling point to war. The dialog gives a sense of that scope while keeping things fun and interesting. Much of the most interesting content happens in a boardroom type setting, which speaks volumes of the writer's ability to keep a reader excited without spectacle. The language varies well as the author writes from different perspectives. He can go once to lucid and smooth to impetuous and conniving depending on the character and/or situation. Such palpable characterization provides an Earthly tether to the series' more out there concepts.
Alex Medellin's art continues in grounding some of the title's more outlandish elements with an exception found in his portrayal of women. Where most everything takes to shadows realistically, the females within the comic have an unnatural plastic-like shine. It sometimes seems as if there are two competing art styles in the work. Both are stunning, but a lack of visual consistency may be a turn off to some. Despite these small gripes, there's some fantastic visual storytelling here. The final page alone made a very poignant statement as to the issue's meaning, the title's future, and brought the crescendo of the plot's scale to a staccato personal note.
My biggest complaint about this comic was in its use of sexual content. I'm a believer in portraying sex in media, because intercourse is something that people do. In portraying life, art has a duty to do as much, but only to the point where it benefits the overall work. This issue gets to that point of gratuity in which the narrative gets diminished. It doesn't help that Miki is drawn like a mash-up of R. Crumb meets Barbie. It comes off as artificial, which is a pretty large faux pas in a serious comic about anthropomorphic animals. This is disappointing in a title that is, otherwise, quite good as it sullies the experience in a well formulated world. Others may not be as contentious on this one subject, though, and allow it a pass for all the things that are done right, which are many.
Bioluminescent breast aside, this title continues to make a concept work of which lesser writers would make goofy drivel. For that alone, the creative team should be applauded as they add an air of newness to the medium and a glimpse of what makes it great. Despite that one issue, there's a lot leading up to a huge event happening in the series and the Man and Elephantman premiere issue coming later this month, for which the previews are great.
Story: RICHARD STARKINGS
Art: AXEL MEDELLIN
Cover: J. SCOTT CAMPBELL