Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Clare Lenton, Luke Parker, Merrick, Nic J. Shaw, Tom Ward
Issue #1 of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman promised so much with that cover alone and as soon as I saw it, it moved to the top of my reading pile…….and with fingers-crossed that it would deliver…..I gave it a read.
The release follows the early days of Joseph Merrick aka The Elephantman and while we all think we know his story, or at least have a fair idea of what to expect from a comic about his life…….i’m thankful to say that this brought a fresh approach and some surprises. OK ,we’re still steeped in a Victorian-era story where Merrick’s mix of Freak show attraction and medical marvel brings that recognizable cruelty aimed in his general direction by a scared public and a selfish medical establishment. Partly feared we see Merrick’s humble existence take an interesting turn as Dr. Treves offers the chance of helping advance medical research behind the thin veil of a possible cure……but ulterior motives are at the core of his interest.
We’re soon embroiled in another case of Joseph being taken advantage of as an attempt to show-off his thick skin by shooting him turns everything sour. Ultimately he suffers at the hands of the general public along with his friends as the establishment turns against him and those around him. While his agent defends him things still turn rocky as the police are sent in to enforce their laws as directly as they can……cue a beating for Joseph and a timely move to Europe….but with a new, much more abusive management. Things don’t go so well as the freak show is rejected by the new audiences and a return to England is soon on the cards for all…..except Joseph as he’s abandoned. Finally managing to return to England he’s now on a quest for revenge against those that did him wrong and news of his return to England soon reach his targets. A mix of the occult and the harsh treatment sets us up in issue #1 with a much darker edge to the story.
Writer Tom Ward manages to add some great new elements to the Merrick story and build on some of the shocks and intrigue that this character already represents. Add to that the artwork from Luke Parker that channels that Mike Mignola edge that we’ve seen in the likes of The Amazing Screw-on Head, Hellboy or Abe Sapien but it’s all got a fresh feel to it as the polished detail and the pallet he uses whisks us back to the 1800’s with ease. A real triumph and it’s even more pleasing to hear that a successful Kickstarter campaign ensures the release of the remaining 3 issues.
Checkout issue #1 for free over at the website…..and get your pre-order in for issue #2.
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