“The most remarkable human being ever to draw the breath of life.”
The Story: The third issue of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman begins with the arrival of a writer at the London Hospital in the East End looking to write a piece about its resident, Merrick. As he meets Merrick’s patron, Frederick Treves, news arrives that Merrick has gone beserk in his room, due to an inexperienced maid leaving a mirror in the room. In an act of supposed friendship Treves hands Merrick the address of curly moustached villain Carlo Ferrrari. The game then begins and Merrick begins a brutal search to find his enemy and rescue his friends…
The Review: When I heard that there was a new issue of Merrick out for a preview it took me 22 seconds to request a copy (if you take the time, you can check this factoid on Twitter). I was incredibly impressed with the first two issues of this series and I’m pleased to tell you that Issue Three is an improvement on even those two corkers.
This issue continues to tell the fictionalised story of Merrick, the Elephantman of history as he finds his place in Victorian London. It’s a multi-layered adventure story with big dollops of horror and conspiracy. The last page (no spoilers) cements his place in this series as a legend and a force to be feared.
This book is many things. Brutality and poetry co-exist simultaneously on the same page. It has that sad quality that David Lynch’s movie features, but tackles it in a completely different way. Merrick steps up to the hatred of the city, powerful instead of weak and infatuated. He rails against the injustice of the times and sets out like a pulp novel character cutting a swathe of bloody broken bones through the Hellboy level weirdness of the times. The story creates its own mythos and pulls you into its dark conspiracies and Machiavellian characters. At the centre is Merrick, manipulated like a steampunk nuclear missile. Incredible stuff.
Luke Parker’s art is the perfect match for an often wordless and moody script. His layouts breathe life into the decrepit London landscape. He hints at moments and in so builds tension and mystery. His moments of action are beautifully paced and choreographed, the pistol scene actually had me holding my breath. His colour choices are completely on point.
This is going to take off once the wider world discovers its existence (and if anyone ever listens to my advice). So jump on and grab one, there are 500 printed so the clock is ticking…
This book is back from the printers anytime soon – and we have some preview pages below.
• Issue 1 of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman is free to download at www.merrickcomic.co.uk where you can order the other issues and some great prints of Luke’s art. The book is also available digitally through Comixology.
• Luke Parker can be found on Twitter @ArtofParker
• You can also meet the creators and buy copies at Sunderland Comic Con – https://suncc.wordpress.com – this weekend (21st – 22nd February 2015), Dutch Comic Con (28th – 29th March), Birmingham Comic Festival (18th April), Manstercon (29th August) or the ICE Convention (25th September)
Many thanks for reading.