This is another comic book series that I was, until recently, fairly unfamiliar with. I actually had to search through Wikipedia for a brief moment to digest some backstory before reading this newest issue.
As a new reader, I’ve gotta admit, this is a really, really bizarre story. It’s sort fo like Dr. Moreau meets The Spirt, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, the Elephantmen are a group of genetic anomalies. They were created in a lab by a disillusioned Japanese misanthrope who hoped to create the ultimate soldiers.
By mixing the DNA of African mega fauna with that of human beings, this evil villain’s organization known as MAPPO, thought it could make the toughest group of commandos ever…and they succeeded. But the UN got word of the illegal program and shut it down, killing a ton of these half-human, half-animal hybrids in the process. There were a few who survived, though, and they were given safe haven in UN territory.
Phew…now that you know a bit of the backstory, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of Elephantmen #37. The issue begins with a night-time chase scene through the heart of Los Angeles. An unnamed warthog hybrid is being chased mercilessly by a skull faced murderer, who we soon discover is Tusk (a particularly unstable survivor of the UN raid). The issue continues, showing Hip Flask (hippopotamus hybrid) and Ebony (Elephant hybrid) in a martial arts sparring session. You get the sense that Hip is supposed to be this rough, gruff older-brother figure, and the situation certainly supports that concept. Ebony gets tossed around the sparring studio like a rag doll, even tearing up as he realizes his loss.
The series continues with these bizarre scenes of Hip and various other characters. To be honest, because I’m new to the book, I had a fairly hard time keeping track of all the sub plots and the various minor characters involved. But the regular appearances of Tusk’s murderous episodes really tied the story together, as sanguine as that sounds.
Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed this book, a good deal more than I thought I would. I’m not usually a fan of the usual ‘animal as people’ plot twist, but this book actually pulls it off. That’s a true tribute to Richard Starkings’s word play, but a great deal of praise should be given to Axel Medellin as well. He’s artwork shines on every page and it helps add realism to this otherwise bizarre concept.