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Elephantmen: War Toys #1

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
By: Chris Murman



Writer: Richard Starkings
Artists: Moritat and Ladronn

Publisher: Image Comics


Like most Hip Flask fans, I was very patiently anticipating this release from our favorite font fanatics. Every single issue of Elephantmen has captured my undivided attention with its rich vignettes of the members of Nikkenís army and artwork that Iím not sure will ever be topped. In telling the tale of the war to end all wars, we get to go back in time and see Hip, Obadiah, Husk and the rest when they were the mindless foot soldiers of their past.

Sadly enough, I guess I was expecting too much from this three issue arc. On second read, I think it made me realize that I enjoy the characters as they stand in current time instead of the killing machines they were before.

As far as the drawbacks of this issue, they easily break down into two categories; not enough about the Elephantmen themselves, and the artwork let me down a bit. I suppose during their heyday as the tip of the spear, the E-men werenít the conversationalists they are today. Achieving their own sense of right and wrong along with emancipating themselves is probably where they got their words from. I guess I just wanted to see a bit more than just a few scenes. Instead we are given the war through one of the few surviving families, accompanied with some of the harsh realities of the virus that sweeps over humanity.

In fact, wow can that Moritat depict life-threatening disease or what? I self-admittedly donít know a ton about this fictional virus, but from the interviews and preview pages Iíve seen, I just thought you died because of something eating you up on the inside. Little did I know I was going to see heads pop like gum balloons from this wretched illness. Creepy indeed, hats off to my favorite penciler.

I guess this was an introduction of sorts, because there wasnít much actual battle going on. Granted, we see the humans working behind the scenes to fight back, which Iím expecting to come in the next episode. Far be it from me to question the story telling of First Tiger Rich Starkings, because heís pleasantly surprised me at every turn in this series. Just color me surprised that this book, titled War Toys, didnít involve much war.

Speaking of color, what happened to it this issue? Since this book is a flashback of some kind (even though itís hundreds of years in the future) it was given a grayscale look to re-create the old war footage my grandparents grew up watching in movie theaters. Iím going to assume itís that instead of Moritat not having the time to finish the colors off, but the reason doesnít matter much in the end. While I appreciate the sentiment, and still love his work on the book itself, I am used to the beautifully colored pencils that I have been buying for 12 issues. Even if it was a sepia look that is what Ladronn used on the cover, couldnít we have gotten a bit more for the money? Itís a small nitpick, and again it doesnít take away from the fact that I like Moritatís pencil work. Iím just a spoiled redneck.

I expect the story to ramp up next issue, and we should get the fantastic battle scenes I was expecting in this issue. Iím nowhere near giving up on my boy Rich; heís got to disappoint me further than this for me to get down about the title. I just had over extended expectations. Everything as we know it should go back to normal with issue #2.



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