Writer Tom Ward & artist Luke Parker have always impressed with their Merrick title but with a new two-pat arc released of the main title after a one-shot and a crossover it was about time I paid the title a visit again………cue the Elephantman!
It all opens with a glimpse of the new “normal” life that John finds himself in with a visit to the theatre giving him a chance to soak up the cultural experience but no sooner can you say “star-crossed lovers” and there’s an attempted robbery among the audience. John’s willingness to do good takes over and with the night descending into anarchy they are soon heading back to the sanctuary of the hospital where the hope of some peace & quiet is shattered at the hands of Dr Treves.
A secret lab and an unexpected monster later and the life-threatening situations for John keep on coming but as if that wasn’t bad enough there are more revelations about the experiments Dr Treves has on the go. The secret society that’s been pulling the strings with Treves are just as much to blame but the surprises for Merrick are just as much a surprise for us the reader and we’re left with an epic two-parter that’s leading Merrick in new directions.
Tom does a great at building the suspense while at the same time throwing in some impressive action but he’s kept Merrick a tortured soul that can swing from all-powerful behemoth to fragile outsider which makes him a fascinating focal point. Built around that strong lead is an equally impressive supporting cast with some true friends, some obvious enemies and some shadowy figures that seem to be a bit of both.
That entire world is made a reality thanks to Luke’s artwork which matched Tom’s balance between the epic & the intimate. Highly detailed and fully-charged with energy to capture the events that are unfolding while he also manages to capture the emotions across the character’s faces as the plot is weaved in front of us. Shout out to Micah Myers on lettering too as he manages to keep some hefty narration & dialogue in check and keep the story flowing.
Merrick started off as a character surrounded by myths who I felt I had half an idea of where this adventure could go – but the creative team have surprised me time & again and that’s made me come back to the title to re-read, rediscovery and enjoy. A great character that has been filled up with endless potential thanks to Tom & Luke and eight issues in there’s still so much more for it to give. Can’t wait for issue nine and beyond.