Eric's Image Comics Review: ELEPHANTMEN #35

While not as poignant as previous offerings in the series, Richard Starkings and team still know how to form an entertaining, effective, and rousing yarn. With the feeling of an 80s war film and successful first and last acts, Elephantmen #35 is definitely an adult oriented issue to check out.

Elephantmen #35 is yet again another solid issue from Richard Starkings and team. This story is very much like an 80s era war movie in which one man (or woman in this case) and a crazy plan are enough to win the day. While they're touched upon, this isn't much of a lament of the horrors of war but a series of action set pieces linking to nicely ambiguous ending. The dialog is kept light for the most part keeping with a military efficiency of the quintessential “Move outs!” and the like. Some of it might border on cliché at times, but it all feels appropriate for the context that is provided and feels fresh with the visceral energy of the comic. The writer, also, sprinkles in some truly engaging bits that keeps things balanced and interesting. This is especially true of its beginning and end (A smart move that gives a good first and lasting impression.). The intent of this book seems to be entertainment, which is achieved.

While the writing is mostly superb for this issue, on might miss the poignancy found in previous issues. This book will likely entertain, but it's missing some of the emotional resonance of a sentient baby rhino in bondage (*Elephantmen #31). The series has never been preachy or self-important, but there was a certain mature sobriety and willingness to tackle hard subjects that is absent here. That said, the dialog and plotting is excellently handled as a pure action book goes and the preceding critique is more one of previously set expectation than of the single issue itself.

The most refreshing aspect of this comic is Boo Cook's art which keeps a lot of the earthy goodness of the raw pencils. Instead of looking like a prefab image like so much mainstream work today, there is a type of rough-hewn beauty to the whole thing that still retains a sense of artistic quality (i.e. It's not artsy for artsy's sake and actually good.). Each of the various anthropomorphic species show differing types of athleticism from the stout musculature of pachyderms to the lithe precision of tigers. Add in several pints of blood and you have some very nice action panels. The illustrator also does some excellent scene establishment especially in a second page reveal, but doesn't make the action too busy (which might be a shame to some as he doesn't utilize his gift for landscapes in several panel backgrounds supplanting much of them with only some bleak sky). There are a couple of instances in which characters blend into the background due to lack of contrast in coloring, but it never sullies the whole of the work. The general layout is nice as well with a good mix of angles making everything dynamic and flowing.

Story: Richard Starkings
Art: Book Cook
Cover: Boo Cook
44 Pages/FC
On Sale September 28!

4 Stars