The Walking Dead #86/Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Cover: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
While Rick Grimes stays glued to the bedside of his comatose son, Carl, the rest of his community is still trying to piece itself back together after the recent zombie incursion. Rosita turns to her only friend, having discovered that Abraham is having an affair with Holly, and Michonne tries to bury Morgan, piecing together her own shattered world in the process. We’re back into one of those “quiet zones” that Robert Kirkman so often attempts to trick us with. At the moment, things aren’t blowing up and nobody is in immediate danger of having their face eaten, so our heroes get to lick their wounds and catch their breath. Interestingly, we also see a shift in Rick’s attitude. Here, despite the fact that Carl could still die at any moment, Rick is planning for a long-term existence in this place. To the readers, who know that in this world “long term” often means until Kirkman decides the characters are too comfortable and starts throwing everything back into upheaval, that seems like a sort of fruitless prospect, but that’s not going to stop him. It’s hard not to respect that.
Adlard and Rathburn do what we want them to do – give us solid artwork with real emotion and a smattering of zombie gore. This isn’t a groundbreaking, earth-shaking issue of The Walking Dead, but it’s a fine example of the sort of character drama that so often exists in-between those issues.
And hey, if that wasn’t enough, we get a flip book this issue for no additional charge! So let’s see what’s in this other comic…
Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Axel Medellin
Cover: Axel Medellin
Publisher: Image Comics
I’ve heard of Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen series before, but I’ve never read an issue and didn’t really know what it was about. This issue really is a perfect introduction into this world. Evidently, in this universe a race of powerful “Elephantmen” (although other large, powerful animals like rhinos and hippos were also used) were created and bred for war. With the war over, though, the Elephantmen are having trouble assimilating into society. “Hip” Flask, our hero, is an Elephantman and a P.I. But as this issue opens only one of these is true – Flask wakes up as a human, memories of his other life fading, and he gets drawn into a case full of all the sex and murder you could want.
I hate to say, I really liked this issue. It’s a bizarre but well-crafted blend of science fiction and pulp detective fiction in a very unique setting and with gorgeous artwork. Even though this amounts to an “alternate reality” story, it gives me enough of the world of the regular comic that I feel like it’s a place I wouldn’t mind visiting. The time may have come to try seeking out these trade paperbacks, because this is pretty damn cool.