Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: Merrick: The Sensational Elephant Man
The Indie Spotlight burns brightly today Evil Geeks, for it is comic time once again in the Evil Lair! Today we’re taking a trip back to Victorian England for an occult tinged tale revolving around a character you normally wouldn’t think of as an “action hero”. Merrick: The Sensational Elephant Man, written by Tom Ward and featuring art by Luke Parker, is story who’s main character is an actual historical person, whose unique nature ensured that the world would know his name still today, over a century after his death. What if the grotesque appearance of Joseph Merrick, better known to the world at large as The Elephant Man, was not just a curse, but also a blessing as well? What if Merrick’s deformities came with superhuman abilities? Would a man who has known no other life besides being a freakish carnival attraction be willing to stick his neck out to save his fellow man? Ward and Parker paint a picture of a man who’s spent his life being mocked, ridiculed, beaten and generally just been shat upon his whole life, adapting both physically and mentally to his downtrodden life to become something greater.
Merrick: The Sensational Elephant Man imagines a world where the deformed body of its main character hides not only superhuman strength and invulnerability, but also conceals an actual human being with a heart and soul, purer and kinder than his mangled appearance conveys. Joseph’s condition has given him rock hard skin and enhanced strength, sadly at the cost of a “normal” appearance. Because of his bizarre form, Joseph really hasn’t been treated very well by all of humanity in general, but he seems to have found a friend in one Dr. Frederick Treves. I say “seems to” because even though the Doctor has shown some concern for Joseph and is attempting to treat his condition, Treves does some really foul stuff to him in issue 1, including making Joseph strip down to his undies for medical show and tell with all of Treves’ med school buddies watching, then trying to shoot him with a gun as a demonstration of his abilities. Joseph has some issues with this treatment at first, but honestly, despite his civil rights faux pas, aside from Tom the Doctor still probably ranks up there with the people who’ve been the least horrible to Joseph. Treves does seem a bit remorseful later on and the men forge a bond. Joseph is initially introduced to Treves by Tom Norman, the man who owns the establishment where Joseph works as basically a carnival attraction. Tom also cares for Joseph and actually slugs Treves when he finds out about how Treves has been treating his friend. Of course the story doesn’t end there; we see at the end of the book that perhaps Joseph is more important of an individual than he could have imagined. Some very occultish looking fellows seem to be keyed in on Joseph’s whereabouts and appear to have some plans for him. Maybe Joseph’s sickness isn’t a disease at all? Could he be a demon of some sort?
Overall the story of the book falls somewhere between Hellboy and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with a bit of Inglorious Basterds style, action packed, revisionist history thrown in. Issue #1 sets up the basic premise of the book, but from the looks of it, future issues will have Merrick going full on monster hunter and hopefully taking on the creepy cabal that’s been watching him over the years. I really like the idea of taking a historical person, known more for being a “freak” and elevating him to the status of a bad ass hero. Joseph has lived an incredibly painful life and there’s a particularly heartbreaking example of that towards the end of the issue, as Merrick recounts a story from his past of being abandoned on a dock. Joseph has been devalued by nearly everyone he’s ever met, so it’s almost like he deserves something more, something better, than being the target of ridicule. The book evokes tones of Hellboy not only in story but in Parker’s art as well. It’s done in a Mignola style that lends itself well to this story of a marginalized man tasking on the world of the occult.
If there’s one thing that’s better than getting comics, that would be getting free comics; so do yourself a favor and go check out issue #1 of Merrick: The Sensational Elephant Man for FREE right now right here! If you like what you see, then be a pal and donate a few bucks to the Kickstarter campaign and help the guys get their book off the ground. Tell ’em The Evil Geeks sent ya’! You can also check out Merrick on Facebook as well. A huge, huge thank you to Tom Ward for sharing his book with us! Be sure to stop by again soon for another Evil Geek Book Report!
Posted on February 26, 2014, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Features, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged Comic Reviews, COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Indie Spotlight, Joseph Merrick, Luke Parker, Merrick: The Sensational Elephant Man, The Elephant Man, Tom Ward. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.