Elementals #8: Reviews of Old Comics
I set out to find an independent comic to review, and the first one I came across was one of Bill Willingham‘s early Elementals issues. I chose not to review it, as it came from the middle of a story. I searched for one that stood alone, and essentially what I could find was this one where it’s a stand alone issue, although some subplots get set in motion.
At the Mercer Island estate serving as the Elementals’ base of operations, Fathom is woken up by a phone call from Eddie, who had developed a crush on Fathom when she was captive on “the island.” (NOTE: This is Nacht Island, where the Elementals were held captive by Saker before they defeated him.) He wants to meet her where they first met, as he apparently has a deep crush on her. Half asleep, Fathom agrees to meet him and then bolts up having just realized what she just agreed to.
At the airport, a stylishly dressed African-American man goes to the rental car counter, and then becomes an attractive blond woman who flirts with the recently engaged rental agent behind the counter to get a special convertible that has been reserved for another customer, despite the objections of the other rental agent, his fiancée. As the blond leaves, with directions to Mercer Island, the fiancée informs him that the wedding is off.
Fathom sneaks out of the house past her father and Porter Scott, the federal agent assigned to the Elementals. He is slightly more suspicious of where she is going. Fathom arrives at the Space Needle, where Eddie is waiting. Meanwhile, Morningstar and Lawrence are practicing fencing. She is fantastic and is approached by the best swordsman in the fencing club who flirts with her as he handily bests her in fencing. He introduces himself as Eric Chessman and asks her out to dinner.
Back at the Space Needle, Eddie monopolizes conversation about how insane Saker’s plan was, but now that the Elementals have stopped him Eddie can begin romancing Fathom again. This causes her to choke on her food, which prompts Eddie to threaten the waitstaff. Fathom then tells Eddie that she used him to escape from Nacht Island and never had any feelings for him at all. This upsets Eddie and he transforms into Ratman and begins to wreck the restaurant. Porter Scott, having followed Fathom, pulls a gun on Ratman to get him to stop. Ratman dares Porter Scott to shoot him, insulting him along the way.
The bullets go through Ratman, but do nothing to harm him as being a lycanthrope, only silver bullets will truly harm him. He disarms Porter Scott who then resorts to a physical beating that is equally ineffective. Before Ratman can seriously harm Porter Scott, Fathom douses both of them, begging them to stop. A swat team with automatic weapons enter which while they won’t kill Ratman, they will stop him long enough to be captured. He tries holding a hostage, but Porter Scott calls his bluff. He apologizes to Becky, who also apologizes for how she treated him. Ratman still thinks the two of them have a future and kissing Fathom, leaps out the window, stealing a police helicopter to get away.
Bill Willingham followed through on the ramifications of Fathom flirting with Ratman to get him to lower his guard and give her an opening to escape back in Elementals #5. That’s part of the problem with an otherwise good story. It relies on the reader having a knowledge of the previous issues of the comic, including guessing who Eddie actually is. The story flows nicely, otherwise. Being the writer and artist, Bill Willingham was able to manage a nice balance in letting the dialogue tell one story and the artwork tell another. We don’t have to be told what kind of person Fathom is, her dress and mannerisms do all of that. We don’t have to be told how uncomfortable she is, the way he draws her takes care of that.
Bill Willingham’s art style at this time really sets itself apart mainstream comic book art of the time for how natural the figures look. At this time, he was beginning to vary his line weight more, and the detailed style he has today was being formed. At this point, he shots remain a little static, but it is still on par with most artists working at DC and Marvel at the time, yet standing apart due to its more naturalistic aspects.
This issue has never been collected and is likely never to be, as the rights are up in the air. If you’re looking for the individual issue, then you shouldn’t have to pay more than few bucks for it, even in pristine condition. You may even be able to find a copy in bargain bins.
FINAL RATING: 8.0 (out of a possible 10) There are flaws, but the story is good, different from how fans of a mainstream super-hero comic would expect it to run.