Comic Review – Elephantmen Vol. 1: Wounded Animals

Elephantmen Vol. 1: Wounded Animals

Writer: Richard Starkings

Artists: Moritat, Joe Kelly, Chris Bachalo, Ladronn,

Richard Starkings, writer of Elephantmen, describes his comic as Pulp Science Fiction.  This is a fitting summary of a book which wears its influences proudly on its sleeve.  Starkings has also identified 2000 AD as a major inspiration and Elephantmen would not look out of place in the anthology.  The influence of film noir is evident here too, and perhaps it is this amalgam of genres which has brought Elephantmen comparisons with Blade Runner.  Both are set in dystopian futures and each prominently features genetic engineering.  But Elephantmen adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Volume 1 introduces us to the Elephantmen, human-animal hybrid war machines left displaced and dejected by the end of the war they were bred to fight.  The characters are well written and genuinely sympathetic.  Elephantmen are objects of fear, pity and ridicule in equal measure.  The name itself is a term of abuse in the Mystery City vernacular, a catch all expression used to describe all hybrid creatures.  The Elephantmen are not entirely without hope though.  Some are able to forge relationships and find their place in society despite the challenges posed by their peculiar circumstances.  There is a definite story arc emerging in this volume, and a real sense of a gathering storm.

The art in Wounded Animals is of a consistently high standard and Moritat’s particularly excellent pulp covers are included.  Inside, muted colours shot through with bright neon lights set the tone for the dark urban future of Mystery City.  The book’s cinematic qualities have been noted and an Elephantmen film is already in development, but the source material is undoubtedly worth your time.

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