Saturday, December 18, 2010
Elephantmen: Fatal Diseases (Review)
Citizen's Grade: Awesome.
Fatal Diseases is the 2nd volume of the Elephantmen monthly series. Richard Starkings continues his genius writing skills with the help of such current greats as Jeph Loeb, & Kurt Busiek. The great artwork of Moritat is complimented by other great artists such as Ian Churchill, Boo Cook, Tim Sale, & Ladronn. My original review of Fatal Diseases was more a vague exposition on the greatness of the series and hero-worship of Richard Starkings...lol. This review is far more in depth.
The volume starts off as we meet Trench; the one-eyed zebra-human hybrid, as he and other law enforcement officers seek to put a stop to Serengheti's underground & illegal activities. Hip Flask & Ebony Hide are there as well, and we hear Trench's favorite expression for the first time...."Blood & Sand".....which he yells at Hip & Ebony as they discuss the women in their lives while bullets fly around them. Trench gives Ebony a gun to help in the firefight, which brings flashbacks to Ebony as we learn how Trench lost his eye. We also see "Joe" for the last time (you'll recall him from the first couple of pages of Volume 1: Wounded Animals),
as he is shot dead by mistake.
Hip Flask is returning home after shopping, still on crutches from his altercation with Elijah over the African artifact. To help he enlists 2 young boys to carry his groceries. While they fight and argue over who gets to push and sit on the cart full of Hip's groceries, they wander into the path of an out-of-control semi....and Hip must put himself in harm's way to save them. Shortly thereafter a meteorite of mysterious origins crashes onto the L.A. beach, and Hip goes to investigate.
Meanwhile, Trench and other officers seek to protect a witness who plans to testify against Serengheti. Enter the Silencer, an assassin with invisible tech who fools the guards and Trench and gets away with murder...
We see Miki again, who has a crush on Hip. Of course, her friend Tiny has a crush on her. They look at online comics about the Elephantmen, then hear the crash of the meteorite and see Hip on tv heading into the crash area. Miki races to the scene.....
Throughout this, and all the volumes, are flashbacks to the early days of Kazushi Nikken, the scientist who created the Elephantmen and led MAPPO. Then to Nikken's trial before the United Nations for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He defiantly persists in his argument that he was only doing what everyone in society subconsciously wants to be done. We also are privy to more flashbacks concerning Serengheti and his relationship to Sahara.
Obadiah Horn and Sahara are in a bad car accident, Horn suffering bad injuries while protecting Sahara from harm. Meanwhile, Miki races to the scene of the meteorite crash and meets up with Ebony. Are they too late? Hip is exposed to the strange creatures from the crash, but is unharmed as he and Ebony discover it is the long-thought "dead" FCN virus....it's not alien at all, but man-made tech left over from the African Alliance/China War that the Elephantmen were part of.
Flashbacks reveal the origin of the FCN virus, which ravaged Europe...making it the perfect ground for China & the African Alliance; led by MAPPO's Elephantmen, to fight their war. As Hip, Ebony, & Trench work to get the panicked populace away from the scene before it's scorched from the air, Miki is exposed by accident. She is miraculously immune somehow, and they head to the hospital so she, Ebony, & Hip can be checked out.
Meanwhile, Horn and Sahara are already there, victims of a car accident. Serengheti is tipped off as well, and he and his goons arrive to rid the world of it's most famous and infamous Elephantman. Sahara stops him with the help of Tusk, who is not as insane as everyone thinks. Horn & Sahara are leaving as Hip, Ebony, & Miki are arriving. Trench chases after Tusk, who escapes the hospital and is on the run.
Extra features include short stories on Vanity Case (Hip's new assistant), Hip's iFrog, and folklore on the unicorn (which Starkings writes in a way to help you see how these ancient myths may have been talking about the rhino).
The writing is phenomenal and the artwork is stunning!!