|Launch date||July, 2006|
Elephantmen is an American monthly comic book published by Image Comics and written by Richard Starkings with art by Moritat and a number of other artists. Issue #1 was released in July 2006.
Some two hundred years from now, the MAPPO Corporation, headed by the misanthropic and megalomaniacal Japanese scientist, Dr. Kazushi Nikken, breeds human/animal hybrids in a secure, top-secret facility somewhere in North Africa. The Hybrids are composed of numerous African animal species, including warthogs, elephants, camels, zebras, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, hyenas, gorillas, lions and crocodiles. The process involves implanting embryos into the wombs of kidnapped local women who are disposed of after giving birth. Each child is branded after birth marking them as the property of MAPPO.
These Elephantmen are trained from birth to be soldiers and killers and are indoctrinated with an Orwellian mindset to think of themselves as property of the MAPPO Corporation and to deny any concept of free thought.
Upon discovering these experiments, the United Nations send in an army to storm MAPPO's Secret base. While their mission has not been elaborated at this stage it seems to be a combination of liberating the Elephantmen, investigating the attacks on the local populace and ending the development of MAPPO's illegal army.
MAPPO turns the Elephantmen on the U.N. troops, and horrendous casualties are inflicted on both sides. Ultimately, the U.N. succeeded in subduing the Elephantmen, and the MAPPO Personnel are arrested. The Elephantmen are rehabilitated and released to establish their own lives in the outside world where they are generally welcomed with distrust and horror from humans. Many of the Elephantmen were assigned jobs by the government.
Living with the humans has proven to be incredibly difficult for the Elephantmen. The war in which they fought had great consequences as people from both sides (Elephantmen included) lost many loved ones. Not all of those who survived retained their sanity, In fact, some became active hunters who tracked down Elephantmen, and then executed them. The series shows that the characters are haunted by memories that are still raw, with some people being driven to insanity due to being unable to let go of the past.
It is evident that the Elephantmen themselves show some level of regret towards what they did during the conflict. It is also evident that crimes such as the ivory trade are seen as a good excuse to commit murder, and that even the Elephantmen themselves are involved with the seedy underworld and drug abuse. Women who befriend, and get together with the Elephantmen are treated as outsiders, frowned upon, yet some have nightmares about their offspring and the chances of survival during childbirth. The series shows that neither species have fully accepted each other.... yet.
The series as a whole is similar to the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Thus it also bears similarities to Blade Runner (the film adaptation of the aforementioned book).
The Elephantmen series is a spin-off from the series Hip Flask, set in the same universe and expanding on details of various minor characters from that series. Each issue features two stories. The first spotlights a different Elephantman and their lives. The second tells, in several parts, a longer story involving a side adventure of Heironymous "Hip" Flask questing for an African artifact.
Elephantmen: War Toys is a three-issue mini-series prequel.
- Hieronymus (Hip) Flask - Hippopotamus Hybrid Flask #7A. Hip Flask's tattoo is distorted by a scar so that "Hippopotomas Hybrid Flask #7A" instead reads just "Hip Flask #7A", hence his name. A product of the Human/Animal hybrid research of The MAPPO Corporation, Hip Flask is a walking, talking hippopotamus who works as an advisor for the Information Agency, a government body tasked with monitoring data and information as an aid to law enforcement. He is partnered by a beautiful young woman named Vanity Case who seems to have romantic feelings towards him (much to Hip's embarrassment). Despite his traumatic childhood Hip Flask is shown to be a calm, kind, and friendly individual, unlike many of the other Elephantmen who display a great deal of bitterness. Hip Flask was possibly the only Elephantman who dared to ask questions during his childhood education, an act for which he was placed in solitary confinement.
- Ebenezer Hide - Elephant Hybrid. "Ebony" works in the Information Agency with Hip Flask. Overcome with depression, he relies heavily on drugs to relieve his prime, both mentally and sexually.
- Tusk - Warthog Hybrid. He was driven to insanity due to MAPPO's extensive chemical Experimentation to see if the Elephantmen could withstand poisons and harsh chemicals. His body did withstand it but his mind could not. He currently resides at the Elephantmen Hospital in downtown Santa Monica
- Casbah Joe - Camel Hybrid. Runs a floating restaurant/nightclub called the Eye of the Needle.
- Obadiah Horn - Rhinoceros Hybrid. Horn has climbed the ranks of society and has become a successful Los Angeles businessman. He is married to Sahara. He is aggressive and almost unforgiving, but deep down a good person. Unless his wife is present, there is no other person who can reason with him.
- Elijah Delaney - Crocodile Hybrid. No known characteristics.
- Trench - Zebra Hybrid. He is a Lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department.
- Jeremiah Granger - Giraffe Hybrid. He is a tailor.
- Bianca "Vanity" Case - Hip Flask's partner. She seems to have romantic feelings towards him.
- Joshua Serengheti - The main antagonist in the story. He despises the Elephantmen and wants them all killed. He is the father of Sahara and is involved with the ivory industry. He detests the elephantmen because his job in the industry became less profitable due to the individual species of the elephantmen no longer being endangered. Essentially he hated the Mappo corporation for somewhat saving endangered animals.
- Herman Strumm - Mouth Almighty Herman Strumm and his delectable sidekick, Rabbi, entertain satellite radio listeners via Dogstar Radio. He was visited by Elijah Delaney for an interview.
- Sahara - The wife of Obadiah Horn. She acts as the voice of reason to the elephantmen, she is seen by all as their queen, capable of reasoning with Obadiah. She is the very reason why mankind is forced to coexist with the elephantmen.
- Savannah - A little girl that is interested in the Elephantmen, in particular, Ebony.
- Miki - She is a cab driver in Santa Monica. Has a huge crush on Hip.
- Dr. Nikken - Dr. Nikken of the MAPPO corporation used kidnapped women as incubators to bring to term several experimental human/animal hybrids. He originally intended them to be used as "weapons of mass destruction", despite soldiers being incapable of qualifying for the term. This is likely an oversight on the part of the comic writer.
The series is being collected into volumes:
- Elephantmen, vol. 1: Wounded Animals - Collects #1-7. "They were genetically engineered to be supra-human weapons of mass destruction but ultimately dismissed collectively as Elephantmen. Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and Obadiah Horn count amongst their number; wounded animals who, despite their differences and origins, must live in the world of man." ISBN 1-58240-691-X
- Elephantmen, vol. 2: Fatal Diseases - Collects #8-15 & The Pilot. "A meteor falls in Santa Monica Bay, and the lives of Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, Obadiah Horn, Sahara, and her father, Joshua Serengheti converge once again with far-reaching consequences for all." ISBN 1-58240-915-3
- Elephantmen, vol. 3: Dangerous Liaisons - Collects #16-23 "The Elephantmen were soldiers – weapons of mass destruction – but now they must live out their lives amongst us. Even so, as three of their number, Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and Obadiah Horn go about their business in Los Angeles, 2259, a MAPPO sleeper cell has plans of their own for them." ISBN 1-60706-250-X
- Elephantmen, vol. 4: Questionable Things - Collects #24-30 "A MAPPO sleeper cell has been reactivating Elephantmen, affecting not only the lives of Hip Flask and Ebony Hide but Vanity Case, Miki, Sahara, and LAPD Lieutenant Blackthorne as well." ISBN 978-160706364353499
- Elephantmen, vol. 1: Wounded Animals - Collects #1-7. "They were genetically engineered to be supra-human weapons of mass destruction but ultimately dismissed collectively as Elephantmen. Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and Obadiah Horn count amongst their number; wounded animals who, despite their differences and origins, must live in the world of man." ISBN 1-58240-934-X
- Elephantmen, vol. 2: Fatal Diseases - Collects #8-15 & The Pilot. "A meteor falls in Santa Monica Bay, and the lives of Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, Obadiah Horn, Sahara, and her father, Joshua Serengheti converge once again with far-reaching consequences for all." ISBN 1-60706-177-5
- Elephantmen: Damaged Goods - Collects #18-20. "Featuring a new cover and short story written and illustrated by Image Comics' rising star Marian Churchland, this full-color trade collects the sold-out issues of Elephantmen focusing on the mademoiselles of Mystery City - Miki, Sahara, and Vanity Case. Complete with an extensive sketchbook of Churchland's art." ISBN 978-1-60706-137-3
- Elephantmen, vol. 3: Dangerous Liaisons - Collects #16-23 "The Elephantmen were soldiers – weapons of mass destruction – but now they must live out their lives amongst us. Even so, as three of their number, Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and Obadiah Horn go about their business in Los Angeles, 2259, a MAPPO sleeper cell has plans of their own for them." ISBN 1-60706-268-2
- Elephantmen, vol. 4: Questionable Things - Collects #24-30 "A MAPPO sleeper cell has been reactivating Elephantmen, affecting not only the lives of Hip Flask and Ebony Hide but Vanity Case, Miki, Sahara and LAPD Lieutenant Blackthorne as well." ISBN 978-160706364352499
- Elephantmen: War Toys, vol. 1: No Surrender - Collects War Toys #1-3. "The battlefield: Europe, recently devastated by a lethal virus. Enter: MAPPO’s soldiers, The Elephantmen. Even in the face of blistering resistance, it seems that nothing can stop MAPPO’s advance across France to the North. But as Hip Flask comes face to face with the last vestiges of humanity in the frozen Scandinavian wastes, he discovers that only the dead see the end of warfare." ISBN 1-58240-980-3
- Elephantmen: War Toys, vol. 2: Enemy Species. "In this sequel to the sold-out War Toys Volume 1: No Surrender TP, Yvette is alive, and artist Boo Cook (Judge Dredd, X-Factor) pits her against a new foe... with Hip Flask, Ebony Hide, and Obadiah Horn caught in the middle!" ISBN 1-60706-351-4
- Both of these volumes have been collected in Elephantmen vol. 00 ISBN 978-1607065142
At WonderCon in 2010 it was announced by Comicraft/Active Images the option of their Image Comics series Elephantmen by Zucker Productions for development into a film. Starkings himself is working on the draft treatment, and is enthusiastic: "Jerry [Zucker] and I can't wait to bring the stories of Hip, Horn, and Sahara to life on screen in a way that will simply take your breath away."
- ↑ "IMAGE COMICS' ELEPHANTMEN Heading To The Big Screen" - article on geekweek.com. Dated April 13, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- ↑ "WC10: Image Comics" - article on Comic Book Resources. Dated April 3, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- hipflask.com (official website)
- Elephantmen on the Grand Comics Database
- Elephantmen on the Comic Book Database
- Elephantmen: War Toys on the Comic Book Database
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