Elephantmen #51 kicks off with a short-arc for the next five issues. At times like this the opening issue can often be the judge of whats to come – so what’s the verdict?
The official description from Image:
“PICKING UP THE PIECES,” Part One
Farrell is a Private Detective who never gave a second thought to the Elephantmen—until he was paid to.
This issue starts off well enough, instantly hitting some of the film noir vibes that run through Elephantmen when it’s at its best. The pieces are all there – a murder, a grumpy cop, a moody city setting, a talking hippo…. and that makes for a very comfortable introduction. This continues for a while, but there are one or two little bugs. Mainly, the whole arc with the woman accompanying Farrell is absolutely plain obvious. It’s done tastefully and wrapped up quickly, rather than dragging out the super-shock-horror-ending but still.. in this issue at least, it’s far from relevant.
This is really down to the writing more than anything. Richard Starkings has a good script, a decent idea and a unique setting, but the use of this ‘mystery woman’ just overplays the haunted-past aspect of Farrell far too much – I’ve just met the guy, there’s a limit to my empathy. Flask comes off more interesting here – partially because we know the character all ready but more because he’s plays the straight up detective role and cuts into the story. Ease off on the hyperbolic dramatics, and this has some real potential.
I said Elephantmen was at its best when using noir themes and undertones – this definitely shows in the art. Alex Medellin offers moody, yet varied colors. Its not shackled to dark blues and greys but there’s enough to keep the tone where it needs to be. The watercolor style seen throughout also helps, giving it a slightly faded look which, if I’m honest, I prefer to the overtly-smokey style you see in a lot of comics attempting the genre.
All in all, this issue gives a good opening to the series. Any bugs can hopefully be forgotten, but I’ll still be looking to the next issue to see how things develop.