Tuesday, August 23, 2005

HIP FLASK: MYSTERY CITY #1

I've had nearly a week to come up with something to say about this and haven't, so here are some unrefined thoughts because I honestly don't know what to think.

First reaction: Cross Rising Stars with The Secret of NIMH and toss it into a vaguely noirish future.

Anthropomorphic creatures, the survivors of mad scientist's experiments, are regular and not-so-regular citizens in the twenty-third century Los Angeles that is our setting. Some are cops, some are criminals, and most are characters straight out of central casting or at least the latest ad for cigarettes. Throw in a crime family war, some xenophobia, and some achingly punful references and you've got Hip Flask: Mystery City.

This isn't the first Hip Flask book, so I'm not quite sure what is simply underdeveloped and what was explained in a previous book. That Hip and his brethren are the results of the experiments performed by Dr. Nikken is obvious. Who and what the 'Elephantmen' are and where they stand in society... not so clear. I went to the website and got some more story, which explained things a bit but not quite to my satisfaction. If the 'Elephantmen' are looked askance by society and are supposed to be surviving by their wits alone, why do they get to hold government jobs and run businesses and generally do their own thing? And why are they all such babe magnets? Obadiah Horn (rhino) is married to a gorgeous woman and Hip gets a taxi cab ride from a driver with a hippo fetish so strong she got a vanity license plate. (I tried not to think too much about the semi-demi-bestiality angle.) Many unanswered questions remain.

The art... There's a very cold feel to the art. Ladronn's scenery is occasionally exquisite, but his people (and animal-people) feel a bit plastic. It's like CGI -- beautiful, but artificial in a way that's more visceral than, say, giving Nightwing blue highlights to make his hair black.

Would I be willing to try another issue? Maybe. I thought the story a little thin and catching up with this universe may require more effort than I am ultimately willing to put in.




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