Written by Tom Ward
Art by Luke Parker
Letters by Nic J. Shaw
Editor Clare Lenton
The Story: This is the fourth issue and ends the first arc and features all the characters who have shaped the series so far. Duplicitous characters behind the scenes continue to play chess with the key cast members – and especially with Merrick. A prolonged action scene shows how far Merrick has come and how powerful he truly is and the story is left on a really intriguing moment that speaks volumes to the next issue. (See how I avoided spoilers there – phew!).
The Preview: This book has been outstanding since Page One of Issue One. You feel both the bulk and the power of this man, Merrick. He has the pain of a ‘This Man This Monster’ vibe combined with English gothic malevolence.
Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman has a magical horror aspect to its narrative. It steam rollers in with violence that is counterpointed by flashes of dark intrigue. Issue 4 is much more front and centre in the action stakes and we see Merrick performing as a fully formed hero, albeit briefly. He floats on the whims of the Victorian mystical secret society but all the portents are there that this will change.
It’s almost out of time with current comics publishing and I feel a captivating Bronze Age otherworldliness to this comic’s panel layout and weird approaches to characters and anti-heroes. There is a vulnerability to Merrick especially, that really comes to the forefront in this issue. It is full of false smiles and plans within plans and some of the moments will haunt you. Deftly done.
I read a lot of small press books that get submitted to Downthetubes but of them all this is the one that deserves to proudly sit next to a Dark Horse or an Images comic.
Done with style, a continuity of gorgeous art and an eye to dark and deep atmosphere this is a masterclass in non superhero comics. It should make a splendid collection. Grab Issue Four while you still can. It is available through a printed version and is due to hit Comixology soon too.
This issue also has a couple of great pin-ups by Peter Bergting and Jez Cummings.
• You can find all the issues and a free download to Issue One at www.merrickcomic.com
• Nic the letterer is on Twitter @Shawlettering
Here are some preview pages…