I'm a little new.

*I have never before blogged at the same time as Dirk Deppey.

But that is what I do today.

Elephantmen #2

There’s a fair amount of jokes in this issue, but far and away the best one is right in the credits of the first story, Behemoth and Leviathan, which is co-written by creator Richard Starkings and God. Which isn’t by itself all that funny, it’s just that Starkings lists his own name first, which just slew me. I’m extrapolating the actual credits, by the way; Elephantmen is such an easygoing, just-us-folks-having-fun sort of affair that nobody in the credits are actually given titles. It’s enough to merely know who’s there, and enjoy yourself.

And it’s still good fun this issue, with the two stories retaining issue #1’s setup of a longer ‘direct’ story featuring a random character from the book’s universe of anthropomorphic beasties-in-a-human-world, and a shorter ‘experimental’ piece involving noir hippopotamus and franchise star Hip Flask (the protagonist of Hip Flask, the ‘main’ book, which is actually a miniseries, though really it’s a pair of one-shots and a smaller miniseries, though one of the one-shots is a prologue to the mini-miniseries, and the other is about to become the actual ‘first’ issue of Elephantmen via reprint, a #0, which kind of transubstantiates the ongoing Elephantmen into being the ‘main’ book, although Hip Flask himself is still the nominal star - everyone got that?). The Behemoth story falls into the latter category, an 8-page fight scene between Hip Flask and one Elijah Delaney, a crocodile fellow. Why are they fighting? Why is Hip Flask clutching a strange idol? It doesn’t matter, though it is all accompanied by selections from the Book of Job, some of it amusingly punchy (“Everything under heaven belongs to me” is accompanied by a filth-choked techno-dump), if rather simple. Also some nice art from series regular Moritat, aided by 2000 AD stalwart Henry Flint.

The 16-page main story, Shock Croc!, sees Starkings and Moritat on their own, as the same Mr. Delaney puts in a special guest appearance on a Howard Stern-based character’s satellite radio show, which is held on a real satellite, this being the future and all. Lots of corny jokes in that vein, though there is a point in there about off-color humor masking societal anxieties rather than alleviated them, or something. It’s probably not that much different than the kind of message you’d get from a superhero book, maybe a Marvel mutant thing, but there’s something extra, almost intangible about the added appeal of Starkings’ creation - perhaps the book’s single-minded desire to amble through snatches of city scenery and moments in the lives of walking, talking beasts, rather than sewing much of anything directly together, though the two stories do connect in certain ways (both plot-wise, and through a mutual jaundiced view of religion), and one of the stories this issue will connect to one next issue, and actually Mr. Delaney had a cameo in issue #1 as well, now that I think of it. He looked to be some sort of pimp. But for all its futurist grime and genetic atrocities, this is an unfailingly pleasant book, the sort of thing you can quite easily pick up every month to stare into the viewfinder at Hip Flask’s silly/violent/hopeless/parodic world.

And there’s the now-obligatory Image bonus materials, the most interesting of which is part 2 of an interview with cover artist (José) Ladrönn, on the topic of his father. Next month we're promised a similar chat with Dave Gibbons, who has absolutely nothing to do with the book. But hey, Starkings wants him in. And he's God in here.