Reviews of Old Comics: Elementals Vol.2 #2
It was 1989, and I was graduating from High School. In my home town, there were only two places to buy comics, a Convenience store with a spinner rack and just down the road from there at the town’s only shopping mall, a B. Dalton booksellers that also had a spinner rack, but featured better comics. The plan was just after graduating and just prior to a party, to stop by the mall and get a t-shirt for the college I would be attending (and subsequently dropping out of) in the fall. Being the comics fan that I am, I decided to stop by the bookstore and pick up a comic or two. For some reason on that afternoon, I decided to pick up something new, and that was where I was introduced to Elementals.
Elementals was published by Comico in the 1980s. It is important for the being the first wide-spread work of Fables creator Bill Willingham. In the late 1980s Comico struck a deal with DC Comics to use DC’s distribution market to reach a wider audience for their comics. In my case it worked, because that’s how I discovered them, proceeding to seek out back issues of Elementals. It also introduced me to a world of new comics available outside of the mainstream, paving the way for my discovery of some awesome books.
The Elementals have journeyed to another world to confront a sorceress with the aid of a wizard named Ambrose, They were attacked, when Ratman, an ally of theirs fell out of their sight. Vortex, one of the Elementals is searching when he is attacked by a soldier on a winged dog that breaths fire. Vortex defeats him by taking the fight to the treeline, and using the cover to topple the rider. Vortex then takes the soldiers sword and runs him through. Ratman is nearby and congratulates Vortex, who then gives him the word that two days ago, after Ratman was lost, they defeated their attackers, but the airship that they were on crashed. Before returning with Ratman to the rest of the team, Vortex wants to settle a score with Ratman for nearly killing him the last time that they met, and proceeds to beat the crap out of him. Unfortunately on the way back to the others he is surprised by another patrol and shot in the throat.
In Louisiana, a televangelist is meeting with a vengeful angel, who chastises him for not killing the Elementals. The televangelist goes to renew his efforts to send his “holy” super-team to kill the Elementals and alone in the room, the angel is revealed to be shapeshifter.
At the crashed airship, Ambrose convinces Morningstar to leave and take the fight to the sorceress Demeter. They cannot hide much longer as Ambrose’s spells cannot keep them hidden much longer. He summons a giant slug to provide them underground transportation to Demeter’s fortress, which Fathom is hesitant to ride in, as she’s barefoot.
Demeter asks the Sorcerer’s Guild for help and is rejected as they see her appeal as cowardly. She begins studying his spells, and shortly, the heroes emerge in Demeter’s fortress and rush out of the slug confronting Demeter’s defending forces. Ambrose teleports to duel with Demeter directly, and the battle quickly escalates to highly destructive levels. The Elementals and their allies trounce Demeter’s forces of Giants, plat-men, a cerebus, and a cyclops.
Demeter and Ambrose seem too evenly matched. Demeter gloats that she’s seen Ambrose use every one of his spells and is prepared to kill him. Ambrose takes affront to this as he’s very old and has had to face many young sorcerers out to make a name for themselves by taking him out and proceeds to kill her by making a finger gun and shouting “Bang! You’re Dead!” Later, he explains to Morningstar that the “Finger of Devestation” spell was actually one of Demeter’s spells, and since she didn’t know he knew it, she wasn’t prepared for it. Morningstar then tells Ambrose that before going home that they need to find Vortex.
The story is engaging and throws enough of the cliches of super-hero stories out the window that one doesn’t recognize the flaws. Two of the Elementals are unnamed in the story, but they serve mainly as foot soldiers in this issue. In reading the story, that doesn’t serve as too much of a problem, though. This story is about the confrontation with Demeter. It also uses superheroes that kill, curse and complain. In 1989, this was practically unheard of.
The art by Mike Leeke and Mike Chen seems sparse at times with too much dead space in some panels, the panels with action are done very well, though and I cannot fault the adherence to anatomy, although the figures sometimes seem stiff.
The cover is something that has always perplexed me. In looking it over, it’s beautifully done by Bill Willingham himself, but the heroes are not easily discernible . I always thought the heroes on the cover were Morningstar and the guy with the sword. Monolith struck me as a mindless monster and for some reason Fathom didn’t register as the hero. Nevertheless, it is an awesome cover.
This issue has never been collected. Because the copyrights are in limbo after being sold to Andrew Rev, it is very likely that it never will be. If you just want to get this issue, you should be able to find it affordably, especially at a larger conventions. I wouldn’t pay more than $2-3 for a Near Mint copy, and would always recommend checking the bargain boxes. Every so often I see a copy of this series show up on eBay by a seller trying to capitalize on the later success of Bill Willingham. They usually overprice it, though.
I definitely recommend picking up any issue of Elementals that shares the logo design on this cover. Later issues that were published without Bill Willingham’s involvement are not as engaging by half. The first volume is exceptional, and features some exquisite art by Bill Willingham.
FINAL RATING: 8 (out of a possible 10)