Elephantmen is one of those books that tend to fool people with its main story device: Human/animal hybrids. If you actually tear back the images put before you, Elephantmen is one of the greatest crime fiction books on the market. It has a deep message about racism and war and constantly battles between religion and science. This book is probably one of the smartest comics of all time and it will only be fully appreciated years from now when someone has taken an obscene amount of time to break down every issue and every page, much like people do to Alan Moore’s work currently. There’s a real intensity to each page of Elephantmen. There is no filler in these pages and nothing is left to chance or misinterpretation. The first page opens with a Warthog running on a roof top. On the left side his back is turned to us and by the last panel he’s facing us head on, but it’s the middle panel that will consume your attention. This panel in the center shows the frame of a woman carrying two sickle clearing blades and wearing the skull of Tusk… the one tusked Warthog killed previously. It’s clear from the movement of this woman, that she is not running and that is fucking scary as hell. This woman is cool, calm and collected as she hunts down this powerful Elephantman who should be able to handle her with ease. But when we look at the page we’re absorbed to the center. All our eyes can do is watch this Warthog fleeing in our peripheral vision as this person in the center has our full attention. By the way… we’re still on the first page.
Our next page has the Warthog jumping across the roof top and barely making it across, more than likely due to its size and panic. We can see that clear as day on the Warthog’s face as he jumps directly towards us… the reader. It’s clear that if we were there, in the Warthog’s way, we would be trampled by this frantic man. And make no mistake; he is a man and not a mere beast. After narrowly making it across he turns his head to see how far behind his stalker is, but what he can’t see and we can is the woman jumping over his head at the same time… with ease.
Her skull covered face stares down at her soon to be victim and all he can mutter is, “No it can’t be… you’re dead. Tusk is dead!” The fear is overflowing from the Warthog’s eyes and in that exact moment you’ll ask yourself, “What exactly did he do to deserve this?” And that is a scary thought to have, because it means that you know he’s about to die and have associated sympathy with him. He does in fact die as the woman strikes down with the sickle into the brain of the Warthog. It’s not even a gory scene and yet its gut wrenching because you just watched what’s perceived in your brain as an innocent man die. This Warthog that you watched die has done nothing to show you he deserved death… other than being different. Do you feel uncomfortable yet? You should, you just witnessed a hate crime and did nothing about it.
I could very easily give you the short and sweat version of this issue, but I won’t. That would be only presenting the face value story of the issue and it deserves better than that. I know it seems strange to say that considering I’ve trained myself to be able to do exactly that, but something about this book screamed to me to just hook you in and make you want more. The strange thing is that I didn’t even read the last issue, which was the first part of this storyline and I don’t think I needed to either. This issue is so powerful that it stands all on its own.
This is probably one of the greatest single issues of any comic I’ve ever read. It haunts me it’s so good. Richard Starkings and Axel Medellin have put together something so powerful that it makes you feel something on every page. This killer of Elephantmen is one of the scariest serial killers of all time and every time she’s on the page you can’t help but feel uncomfortable. Especially since you know from the beginning of the issue that she is going to kill again and with ease… and still you’ll be able to do nothing about it.
The story is stimulating and perfect. The art is gorgeous and perfect. If ever an issue deserved a perfect score, it’s this one. Buy this book, tell your friends and enjoy a comic book that should be studied and broken down page by page.
Writer: Richard Starkings Artist: Axel Medellin Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/25/12