Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Axel Medellin
Cover: Boo Cook
Issue #73 of Elephantmen showed us Hip Flask facing… future Hip Flask, who disappeared after one hour (during which, amongst other things, he bombarded his past self with a rain of fish and sea mammals including a whale) making present day Hip forget everything that happened. Yes, it is that complex.
Issue #74 opens on a flashback to “one year ago” in which multimillionaire Obadiah Horn has a chance to show an example of the merciless streak that allowed him to make a fortune in a world that sees beings like him as inferior. His wife Sahara seems worried about him, but it’s unclear why.
Most of this issue is a flashback to that initial flashback. We get to know Obadiah better, finding out where his determination comes from, and to discover something about Sahara’s remote past.
Elephantmen seems here to be building towards something big, something in which old soldiers Horn and Flask, who now follow different paths in life, will be involved, something that will cause their paths to cross again.
Mainly, this is a series about racism and integration. The elephantmen, or “munts” in the non-politically-correct term, are hybrids between men and African wild animals, created by Mappo only to fight a war. But the war is over, and the elephantmen are trying to integrate in human society. It is also about war veterans, in a context made even harsher by the fact that the munts never existed before the conflict, they have nowhere to go back to. Most people accept them, but some don’t – which makes their lives hell.
A special praise must go to the artwork, highlighting especially the care to detail in each and every panel; by watching at them, one would believe that Axel Medellin regularly frequents elephantmen whose traits he can copy and reproduce on the page.
Once again a very interesting issue for this series, and a good one to start if you don’t know it as it gives us some details about the past.