The Elementals – Needless Character Analysis
This week, our needless character analysis might very well be just that. In legal limbo for many, many years, the Elementals are unlikely to ever see a resurgence. Their creator, Bill Willingham is at last comment, uninterested in revisiting the characters, much less trying to regain full legal ownership of them. Nevertheless, Elementals remains one of the gems from the independent comics boom of the 1980s, and worthy of your search for them.
Four completely unconnected people all died in accidents that were linked to the traditional four mystical elements. Police Officer Jeanette Crain died in an warehouse fire while chasing a suspect. Socialite Rebecca Golden died at sea when her yacht capsized. Coast Guard Officer Jeff Murphy died when his helicopter plummeted at hundreds of miles an hour. Archaeologist’s son Tommy Czuchra died in a rock slide. The four gather together and take the aliases of Morningstar, Fathom, Vortex and Monolith respectively. They draw the attention of the FBI who send Agent Porter Scott. Unfortunately for the government, Lord Saker sends a team of superhumans to capture the Elementals. Saker seeks to bring about worldwide destruction through the use of the Shadowspear which harnesses mystical and demonic forces. The Elementals stop Saker, but Shadowspear is unleashed as a massive storm system.
The next several years see the Elementals battle new threats created by Shadowspear. The government creates a new agency to monitor the superhuman threat, F.I.S.H. Fathom finds herself the romantic target of one of Saker’s Destroyers, Ratman. Monolith begins exhibiting further mental powers, especially precognition. Vortex maintains an unlucky streak, exhibiting the one trait that Porter Scott notices among the Elementals that normal humans subconsciously notice that the Elementals are dead. Morningstar finds herself in a romance with Eric Chessman, who turns out to be the vaillainous Shapeshifter, that Morningstar had seriously hurt while escaping from Saker.
Among the threats that the Elementals face are a race of vampires created by Shadowspear creation Captain Cadaver. They encounter the Norse God of Thunder, Thor recasting himself as a British-style adventurer. They are also targeted by an assasin named Fantasia Faust, a mystical golem that eventually is convinced to aid them against the sorceress that hired her. Finally, there’s the Rapture, a team of superhumans created by televangelist Jeremy Skagg under the influence of Shapeshifter, who reveals her role as Eric Chessman to Morningstar soon afterwards, in an effort to drive her into despair and suicide.
Morningstar is rescued by the wizard Amrose, who had aided the Elementals in the past. He had fallen in love with her and the two married. While she was away, the Elementals relocated to Philadelphia, which had been overrun by vampires. After ridding the city of most of the vampiric infestation, Porter Scott was attacked by Captain Cadaver and went missing.
Shortly after Morningstar returned from her honeymoon, Earth was targeted by an attacking planetoid Oblivion that sent various creatures and agents against Earth’s superhumans. In the face of the invasion, Monolith assumes command of the Elementals and gathers together all of the world’s superhumans in an effort to create their own nation and battle the threat. In the process, his human form is killed, followed shortly thereafter by his Monolith form. He is rescued by Saker who directs him into developing the mystical powers that had previously been limited to precognition and creating a new form. A new host is found for Monolith who reluctantly joins the Elementals in the war.
The Oblivion War sees a great number of casualties among Earth’s superhumans but the aftermath never fully gets explored as Comico came to an end in the comics industry crash of the 1990s. While the trademark for the Elementals is in the hands of Dynamite, Andrew Rev, location unknown, owns all of the other rights to the characters, save Dave Dragavon and Fantasia Faust, who Bill Willingham retained for his use in his adults-only comic series Ironwood.
Elementals remains one of those series that should be remembered for its quality and for the ground it broke in making a mature super-hero comic series. It set the stage for series like the Authority, Kick Ass, Planetary, although it also inspired a plethora of less brilliant super-hero comics of the 1990s and 2000s. Most issues can be found in bargain boxes and the series boasts some fantastic early artwork for Jill, Thompson, Adam Hughes, Tony Akins, and of course, Bill Willingham.
NOTE: Ironwood is an adults-only title, so it is not included in the Amazon links. The Theatrix book included is generally safe for most mature readers, but it is not erotic. If you are so inclined, I recommend Ironwood, but you have been warned.