Elephantmen, Vol. 1 PDF
by Richard Starkings
Definitely shows promise. I have the first three TPBs of Elephantmen and while this is definitely good stuff, it's pretty disjointed. From what I understand this collects issues #0 to #7 of a series that didn't start out to be a series, so a bit of wandering is to be expected.
A lot of it is flashbacks and short story style writing, almost like vignettes. It really feels more like the building blocks of a universe, rather than a coherent story at this point.
However, that being said, there are a few main characters that are focussed on and I'm interested to see where this goes. The entire thing, as the comics have no problem telling you fairly often, has a cyberpunk/noir feeling, with a good dose of anthropomorphic animals, of course.
The basic premise of the book concerns human/animal hybrids genetically designed, grown and raised to be super-soldiers. After the war they were bred for is over, the 15,000 or so surviving "Elephantmen", which includes not just elephants but hippos, rhinos, giraffes, camels, zebras and crocodiles so far, are emancipated and slowly integrated into a human society that doesn't really want them or know what to do with them. It's an intriguing premise and there's a lot of interesting quotes on the subjects of genetic engineering and experimentation as well as society, philosophy, sociology and other humanities from both contemporary authors as well as classic writers, that are included at the start of each issue within the book. Despite the far flung sci-fi aspect of the comics they're grounded in current and cutting edge science that is happening right now.
The writing is mostly pretty good, though I did find one section that translated the main character into a storybook tale of pirates told to a child a bit of a chore to read. I didn't like the style it was given and it really didn't do anything for the overall story line. It felt like more of a diversion, an indulgence of the writer rather than something that was integral or important to the comics.
The art is well done, but it looks to me like the artists either use a PC tablet to draw on or his pencils are scanned and then computer coloured and it shows. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but makes for some blurry looking line work at times and there's a real lack of "inks" so it doesn't look much like traditional comic book art. However, it does serve to give the different artists- there are a few consistent artists- styles a feeling of sameness and helps to keep the theme and look of the books coherent. There is also a handful of side plots illustrated by other artists that diverge from the overall look and for the most part they add a nice bit of variety to the books.
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Download PDF Elephantmen, Vol. 1