Friday, August 31, 2012

Elephantmen: Armed Forces (Review)

Armed Forces is a collection that includes the sold out graphic novel  War Toys (see: Book of the Month), War Toys: Yvette, & a couple of issues from the ongoing monthly, Elephantmen.  Richard Starkings continues the writing on this masterpiece of Pulp Science Fiction, while artwork is done by some of the greatest artists in the industry today....Moritat, Boo Cook, Ladronn, & Axel Medellin.

While I must admit that Saga has taken over as the #1 comic book in my heart, Elephantmen takes a backseat to nothing else being published today.  Completely original, entertaining, with some of the best storytelling and artwork's in a word: Awesome!

The Hardcover editions are breathtakingly gorgeous, with attached ribbon bookmarker, great binding....a very "real book" look and feel.

This volume is a prequel to the other Elephantmen volumes, showing the history and background on our main characters, the war fought in Europe between Central Africa & China, & the European resistance led by it's symbolic leader, Yvette. She is really the star of this volume, as she matures from naive little sister to unstoppable Force of Nature!

What we learn first is the history or MAPPO, the scientific entity led by the Dr. Nikken, who created the Elephantmen.  After training, brainwashing, and purposing them for war....they are sold the Central African Alliance to be used against China in disease-ravaged Europe.

That is where we first meet Yvette and her brother.  They are some of the surviving few trying to resist the Elephantmen advance across Europe.  With 90% of the population killed by a virus, and the Elephantmen attempting to exterminate everyone who's left....Yvette and her brother could lose hope, but don't....
Yvette & her Brother

After her Brother meets an unfortunate end, Yvette must "grow up" and defend herself against the advancing forces of MAPPO!  She devices a plan that allows her escape while killing several of her Brother's murderers.  Thus begins the legend of Yvette, both in the eyes of the Resistance and the Elephantmen.

The Legend begins.....
 The Resistance loses ground; however, as the Elephantmen hunt Yvette to gain revenge for their comrades.  Fear is beginning to overtake some of them, as the legend of Yvette has grown with every dead Elephantman. They finally catch up to her in Norway, where she is all alone against an army of Elephantmen.....but she has become a Force of Nature!

An awesome battle ensues, but Yvette comes out with the short end of the stick.....or so the Elephantmen would think.  But she cannot be stopped, only slowed momentarily!

Yvette & Elephantmen...face-to-face!
After recovering from her injuries, she begins tracking the Elephantmen; now advancing toward China, killing as many as she can.

China; meanwhile, has a secret of their their base on the Moon.  Firing rockets toward earth carrying their own version of Elephantmen....Tigers!!!  We also get our first glimpses of flame-throwing Hyenas.

Yvette and the Resistance commandeer an Elephantmen armor suit, and she the same time the Elephantmen are being attacked by China's "Stone" Tigers as well.  Yvette is saved once again by fate, and shows no mercy to the Tigers.

In Patient Zero, we get an early glimpse of Dr. Nikken and his attempts to produce an Elephantman.  The story revolves around Vernal, an assistant in the labs.  When Dr. Nikken orders the disposal of a failed experiment, Vernal saves it as a pet.  It grows and grows, until....well you'll just have to pick up the volume and read the story, won't you?
artwork from Patient Zero

What I truly loved about this volume is that Yvette is the star!  In the monthly title (collected as Elephantmen: volumes 1-5), it's Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, Obadiah Horn and those humans most closely associated with them that star....but here in Armed Forces, it's just Yvette.

Richard Starkings
Once again, we see the genius that is Richard Starkings!  This volume is tremendous, and a must have if you are wondering about the beginnings of the Elephantmen!  The artwork is always phenomenal, and the story is riveting.
Starkings' brings out the humanity in the Elephantmen while showing the animal in Humanity.

This is a "little known" title, and hard to find at your local comic book shop.....but ask for the monthly issues and visit Amazon to pick up the first 5 volumes and volume 00 (Armed Forces) won't be disappointed!


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