Updated: Mar 22
Writer: Tom Ward
Illustrator: Luke Parker
Publisher: Self-Published (A Ward & Parker Comic)
WHAT IS IT?
The Victorian pulp adventure based on Joseph Merrick (The Elephantman) returns with new stories and an action-packed crossover!
Merrick Vol. 2 is what you get when indie creators build upon their own vision of a Universe ala Hellboy while making something uniquely their own.
Merrick Vol. 2 includes Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman #5-8, Merrick & Crowe #1, plus extras.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Merrick Vol. 2 contains three separate story arcs with two being double-issues and one crossover with Corey Fryia's Dr. Crowe. Gamblers Hand features Merrick trying to get a pair of gambling cards from a man who made a deal with the devil. Little does Merrick know at that time, these cards seem to be part of a larger plan that Treves has kept secret. Following is Birds of Prey where Fryia's Dr. Crowe pays Merrick's town a visit. Just like many other superhero genre crossovers, our main two heroes clash in a bout of confusion until they realize they were after the same thing all along. The tried and true storytelling element of any superhero crossover!
However, in the final arc, "Monsters," Merrick fights more than just inhuman monsters, including the monstrosities of man, and emotional monsters alike. Not only does this arc bring about startling revelations, but also story threads for the future to come! It'll have you saying, "What's an Elephantman to do?" All three of these stories bring action, drama, and adventure in a pulp fashion that'll have an elephant tooting its trunk! Not only that, but this volume includes grand world-building storytelling that explores Merrick, the people around him, and that although you may be "ugly" on the outside, on the inside you don't have to be.
I'm still a complete fan of Merrick's logo, it just works so damn well.
Merrick Vol. 2 follows the previous trade's usage of images of the arcs contained to tease you of the innards of the book. Yet, this time around it doesn't feel as cluttered.
Ward relegates each arc to only two issues (sans the crossover) and this (for the most part) works to the benefit of his storytelling.
The story arcs and plot threads present throughout Merrick flow with great ease, making each arc generally feel like one huge planned out story instead of small arcs that feel random.
Throughout each issue, Ward is able to invoke multiple feelings in the reader while not making any emotion feel wasted or used in a cheap manner. Not only that, but some of the jokes hit the funny bone quite hard.
There has been steady but great character growth since the previous issues, but the one that feels the best is Merrick himself. Not only does he seem to evolve character-wise each issue, but you start to relate more and more with him, and see him for the gentle giant he is and feel the hardest of emotions when something traumatic happens.
The world-building showed throughout works wonders for the universe the team is building with even the smaller bits making waves throughout while helping you grow to love this world and the characters that inhabit it.
Merrick Vol. 2 wraps up what seems like just the first phase of the bigger story the team is telling. Not only does it do that it sets up the next parts organically with threads we've seen before.
Although the Crossover doesn't feel absolutely necessary, there are some emotional moments and thoughts that help pave the road forward. That said, the crossover was awesome, and should be read due not only to how well-written it is but for how fun as well. Hopefully, there are future crossovers; a TMNT one would be killer!
Parker's art continues to evolve in every aspect with some key moments sticking out in this volume. Whereas the first volume had a "same-face" issue, Parker gives each character a distinct face structure or hairstyle that makes them easily distinguishable.
The action scenes have improved drastically. Instead of some fights feeling stiff, these ones have a nice flow, are easy to follow, convince you of the impacts they have and are a blast to read.
One of Parker's strengths is the ability to make cities feel alive. Not only is he able to capture a wonderfully brilliant cityscape, but he is able to make it look real, livable, and just a sight to behold.
Parker's use of heavy inks and shadows is a huge factor in Merrick and throughout the volume, he is able to make great use of it while looking fantastic as well.
There are a few scenes that use just one color, and during this Parker uses different shades of said color to help differentiate the separate elements.
Some panels explode with colors, especially the parts that use fire, and Parker makes them shine so wonderfully that they can become memorizing.
Lettering is handled by Micah Myers this time around, and compared to past issues it's a huge improvement.
One addition to the lettering is when Merrick's words are in a narration/thought box and is accompanied by an elephant so you know it's him. Small details like that are just great.
The few times "unique" villains/characters are involved, Myers changes up their fonts/font colors/balloon colors to help showcase them.
During a certain ritual scene, Myers lettering really helps sell the eerie setting by taking what would've just been a good scene, and elevating it with differing lettering techniques that help it stand out.
Taking a look back at the first issue, it's astounding just how much this series has grown in quality of content. Every aspect has continued to improve and the difference between then and now is just flabbergasting.
Memorable Quote: "It's some kind of MAN-ELEPHANT!" - Brother Doyle. I've always love Man-Bat as he is the opposite of Batman, and that applies here as well.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Although Myers works wonders in some parts, there are some instances where there is just too much dialogue in a speech balloon. This doesn't transpire often, but enough to make some panels/pages a chore to read.
As stated in the first Merrick trade, some panels and scenes feel stiff, yet unlike that volume, there isn't enough to really draw away from how much the art has improved.
Although the two-part arcs are great, the pacing feels off at some moments, and would've benefited with an extra page count to help some of the wordier sections and help the overall plot.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Comparing Merrick Vol. 2 to its predecessor, you can see just how much the duo of Ward and Parker have improved throughout each issue. Yet, even without the comparison to the first part, you can even see improvement with the pages inside this second volume. Nothing is as fun as watching creators make their own universe while at the same time improving constantly on their craft.
Merrick continues to be an amazing story where you can feel the time, stress, love, sweat, and tears the team put into their universe and craft. It's not easy making comics, much less a whole universe, yet the team behind Merrick does it damn well while making it look easy.
If you are looking for a new unique, fun, adventurous universe to get lost in, then you need to keep up with Merrick.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Hellboy Universe by Mike Mignola
From Hell by Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
If you like the art:
Batman: Broken City by Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Clem Robins, and Patricia Mulvihill
Griff Gristle by Rob Jones, Mike Sambrook & Rory Donald
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tom Ward – Writer (@highbrowtrash)
The Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman series is Ward's first published comic work
Fan of Punk Rock and was in a few bands growing up
Outlander: Grew up in Liverpool, England
Luke Parker – Illustrator (@Artofparker)
Joe Casey found Parker's art online and drafted him for work on Annual
Dreamteam: The duo of Ward & Parker is great with their ideas meshing amazingly
Worked on some prints for Gametee
Micah Myers – Letterer (@micahmyers)
Prolific: Has lettered for big comic companies
Started a pro wrestling anthology titled, Kayfabe
Started lettering in 2013
Clare Lenton – Editor (@ClareLenton)
Freelance Editor and Senior Content Designer
Master's Degree in English literature specializing in Gothic Literature - Not gonna lie, that's pretty damn awesome
Outlander: Also from Liverpool, England
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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