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Elephantmen: War Toys #2

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2008
By: Chris Murman

Richard Starkings
Moritat, Ladronn (cover)
Image Comics
ďI 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.Ē

When a redneck is right, he must stand and be recognized. It says that somewhere in the Texas constitution. Just remember that before coming to Wizard World Texas this year. That quote is how I ended my review of issue #1 of this three-issue arc, and I could not have been more correct about this read. Action abounded, the story was enriched (pun intended), and after the shock of not seeing any color last issue I got back to the business of loving the detail in Moritatís work.

There were still surprises mind you. I wasnít planning on falling in love with a human character in this story and marveling at her prowess on the battlefield. That honor is usually reserved for an animal in this comic. Seeing the evolution of Yvette from a scared, fragile creature into the strong soldier she really is (then back to fragile at the end) really made this read for me. Her skill with subterfuge was made fully evident when she appeared out of nowhere to slice a zebraís head in half. The close-ups on her face were magnificent, as was the scene after she returns to the French camp with ďdinnerĒ in hand. This diversion from the sceneís of the Elephantmen army advancing was welcome, because I just didnít understand the scenes with Nikkenís army advancing.

I think what made the enhanced animals we love reading about less appealing in this issue is the sheer number that we are bombarded with on each page. Instead of seeing Obadiah being the ice-water-running-through-his-veins killer I was hoping to see, I saw a gaggle of rhinos. Likewise, the scene revealing how Trench came to live with a patch over his left eye loses some of its punch because the reader is bombarded with gun-toting zebras throughout the issue. (Incidentally, I loved where he picked up the hot piece of metal and jammed it in his socket to cauterize the wound.) Lastly, while viewing an armored hippo fire heavy artillery at Chinese helicopters was slightly lessened by the idea that it might or might not have been Hip. It probably was, but my point nevertheless is valid. The unique characterization is gone, which is not the worst thing to have happen at times in a book, because this story needed to be told. Just an observation, I suppose.

I mentioned it earlier, but Iíd like to praise Moritat for his work on this issue. Specifically, I enjoyed the scenes of a war torn France and the action scenes that followed. Trench unloading a Howitzer on a helicopter, Yvette emptying a clip at Elephantmen, and the true horrors of this war continued on from the previous issue are all on display this month. I still wish I could have a sepia tone to the pencils, but I thought the detail was above average and I am much higher on the art this time around. Again, I might just be more used to it, but I would argue a compliment is still a compliment.

The next, and final, issue in this arc will be greatly anticipated by this reader on two levels. First, I want to see the gene-spliced creatures fight back after seeing their fallen comrades eaten by humans. You know there is even further genocide coming in issue #3, and I canít wait. Also, Iíd like to see a nice little bow put on this story line and get back to the great character moments that have made this title a success for Image. Thereís no way Iím thinking of giving my three bucks to another title at this point, because I continue to be surprised by this team at ever turn.

Of course, the letters page this month might have something to do with that, but thatís another story for another time.



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