I’m not even sure we can call Elephantmen #59 a comic book – and that isn’t strictly a bad thing. This issue takes a strong artistic choice and sticks to its guns. Whether its successful or not well depend on the reader, but it’s certainly commendable for its efforts.
The official description from Image:
Hip Flask learns that no one is safe now.
Straight away, with an introduction/opening credits that spans four pages, it’s clear this issue is trying to make a point and set a tone rather than focus on the story. That isn’t to say there isn’t action here, as there are a few pages dotted in between to keep regular readers up to speed. What we have for the most part, however, is a dialogue that borders on science fiction, philosophy and a multitude of themes in between.
This sounds crazy, but I think Richard Starkings made the right choice. The decision to use H.R Giger is genius. Elephantmen always has a running theme of life and evolution and, while it certainly isn’t as dark as Giger’s work, it has its own moments. It may be a little too long winded for my tastes, but it does bring up a few questions and almost succeeds in challenging the reader. I said at the start this is hard to call a comic as, at times, I’d rather call it a though experiment or some sort of graphic thesis.
Visually, Elephantmen #59 takes a very similar turn. Alex Medellin definitely takes his cues from Giger and, in many ways, succeeds in emulating the style and bringing in a touch of the Elephantmen motifs. However, at times specific works are so strongly referenced to that it’s hard to ignore the fact. I don’t want to see the navigator from Alien… I’m reading Elephantmen. However, when it is simply inspired, rather than copying, Giger’s work there is an almost beautiful aspect underneath the grotesque sexualization.
All of this does, of course, come at the expense of a plot – despite a few updates it doesn’t really advance anything too far. This might annoy regular readers, but it wouldn’t be the first time the title has had stalling tactics. At least this time we get something more fascinating in the interim.