Written & Illustrated by Greg Houston
Published by NBM
Greg Houston’s latest book, a superhero parody, has moments, but it’s not quite as enjoyable as it could’ve been.
Elephant Man, the misshapen hero of Baltimore, is besieged by an outraged television reporter attempting to reveal his superheroic shortcomings, while the three-headed villain a priest, a rabbi and a duck launch a crime wave with similar intentions.
The book’s biggest flaw is its overall premise. Superhero parody is almost as overplayed as superheroes themselves, except superhero parody almost always steers toward those few basic clichés at the heart of the superhero genre – secret identities, costumes, hyperbolic villains. Elephant Man spends too much time going over this overly trodden territory, with only a few of the jokes – mostly dry asides – reaching beyond the obvious. Other types of jokes appear as well, but again – ladies with 80s hair isn’t winning many points for originality either.
Houston’s artwork, sloppy and graffiti-like, carries the story effectively. His character designs are distinct and the visual gags work. The exaggerated character acting suits the story’s over-the-top style as well.
Despite a few solid gags (you can’t go completely wrong when “a rabbi, a priest, and a duck” is one of your characters), Greg Houston’s Elephant Man wallows in too many too-easy jokes. Hiding a secret identity behind a pair of glasses, it must be at least four days since most readers have seen that one. Unfortunately, it’s not a book that I can recommend.