Wednesday, October 05, 2005

ELVEN #1 Malibu Comics 1995

First of all, shouldn’t it be Elvish instead of Elven? Not to get all Tolkien on your ass, but the word “elven” is sooo D&D. And if this comic book were called Elvish, it might be about the crazy adventures of a magical female Elvis impersonator with a speech impediment, which would make for a better comic than Elven #1.

I cannot wrap my head around this comic, thematically. An offshoot of Prime, Malibu Comic’s flagship title, Elven is the story of Elvia (snicker), a young girl who has the ability to transform herself physically into Elven, a superhuman elf chick in a bikini. The girl, who is the victim of domestic abuse, is a voracious reader of fantasy books and has created the elf avatar out of her subconscious. Judging from Elven’s appearance, perhaps the little girl was reading John Norman’s Gor series.

Prime himself makes an appearance to nudge sales a bit, because kids love Prime (irony). Of course, Elven and Prime must fight:

Here’s where I get confused: The themes of writer Len Strazewski’s story involve men who abuse women, and the effect that abuse has on the women. Elven stops a dealer from smacking around a woman in the beginning, we get a flashback of Elvia’s drunken asshole father beating on her when she’s reading Lord of the Rings (“Look at the trash she’s reading!” he yells.), and Elvia’s therapist is portrayed as an unethical prick. Basically, all the men in the book are bad, except Prime, and he’s only okay because he’s in essence, a boy.

So here’s where Elven loses me: If the abuse of women and misuse of power by men form the thematic underpinnings of the book, are those themes best explored by a BoobWar elf-hotty in a metal bikini? I don’t want to get over analytical, because that’s not funny, but doesn’t the way she looks sort of send a mixed signal? Or is it really a noble deception, enticing young readers into the world of Elven with cheesecake, only to blow their young minds with a powerful message of non-exploitation? Is Elven too clever for me?

Possibly, yes.

After we’re introduced to Elven, most of the story takes place in the unethical prick therapist’s office. Young Elvia has an appointment with the therapist to help her deal with the trauma of her abuse. Before she arrives there is a brief scene with another of the therapist’s patient/clients, Bruno, a very troubled and very horny young boy who is possessed by a demon:

The therapist is too bored and self-centered to notice the demonic possession thing. “Yes, very interesting,” the therapist says. “Excellent voice, Bruno.”

Elvia comes into the therapist’s office while Bruno hits on the secretary in the waiting room. “I can do all sorts of fun and nasty things to you,” Bruno says. I gotta remember that line.

The unethical prick therapist gets impatient with Elvia after about thirty seconds. “We’re getting nowhere,” he thinks. “Little brat is about as uptight as they come.” At about forty-five seconds into the session he decides to “speed things up” and hypnotize her. “We’re supposed to get permission first, but who’s going to know?”

The session is interrupted by young Bruno going into full-on demon mode in an effort, one assumes to violate the attractive secretary. Elvia transforms into Elven, and wackiness ensues as the two over-sexualized twelve-year olds go at it:

I didn’t dig Elven #1, but clearly some amount of care and thought went into crafting the story and character and themes.

What then, am I supposed to take away from the fact that the main character is a little girl who turns into Bikini Elf to stop the abuse of women? To be fair, artist Aaron Lopresti’s artwork isn’t lascivious or overly titillating, but still. It reminds me of the comic Ant, which is now being published by Image, I think. I’m not going to make any judgment calls on Ant because I haven’t actually read it, but I have flipped through it and looked at preview art online, etc. It seems to me that Ant covers sort of the same ground as Elven, I believe – little girl morphs into nubile superhero chick – but Ant is full of ass shots and has a clear cheesecake agenda. I mean, if you have J. Scott Campbell cover featuring a nice juicy ass, you’re using sex to sell your book right?

Now I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; I love BoobWar as much as the next guy. But am I way off base when I say that it’s a little creepy to have a sexed-up character that is, in essence, a little girl?

If there are two things I’ve learned from Elven, it’s that 1) metal bikinis sell, and 2) men are total dicks. It’s confusing, but hey, what do I want? I bought it for a quarter.



Anonymous said...

Ahh, the Gor series.
It started out as a bland Burroughs pastiche and degenerated into the BoobWar of its day (only worse).

If you've read any Gor, read the hilarious parody Houseplants of Gor.

Anonymous said...

Or my own, unwritten but hilarious Pikachu of Gor.

Anonymous said...

A superhero comic book sending mixed messages about gender relations? Surely not!

Anonymous said...

"Prime's Little Sister"

Whoo-haw! She ain't so little anymore!

Thank you. I'll be here all week. Tip your waitress.

Jeff R. said...

"So you see, son, you should never, ever hit a woman."
"But dad....what about my sister?"
"Oh, right, yeah. That's an exception. I mean, who hasn't wanted to smack her silly once or twice. Good thinking; I'm glad we cleared that up."

thekelvingreen said...

No see, she's Prime's little sister, and just like any big brother would, he's just trying to stop her going out dressed like one of those "girls" Dave met at the comic con.

That's why he's trying to snap her spine in half on the cover. He's just looking out for her.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does the cover look a lot like the "classic" Janet Jackson with hands-on-her-boobs-cover at first glance?

David Bishop said...

The therapists' thought balloons seem straight out of a Jack Chick comic. Is Strazewski a Scientologist?

Anonymous said...

I first thought the title of the book was 'Eleven'.
And somehow, from what you've recounted of the plot, that title would have made about as much sense.

Prime had a spin-off? Ahhh...the 90s, how i don't miss you...

Anonymous said...

I mean, it's not as if they sexualise the Big Red Cheese or anything like that - this creepy BoobWar Shazam Knock-off has just gone up a few levels of ICK in my estimation. It is NOT Airwolf.

It is not even Manimally entertaining.

Anonymous said...

For some reason this Very Special Episode of Dave's Long Box bummed me out. Like that very special episode of Blossom where Six raped Joey (or something).
Total bummer man. I think i'm going to kick a puppy now, because that would make me feel better than this Elven review.
Tomorrow, bring back the funny.

Anonymous said...

The mixed message is one those things that would probably make sense to a teenager, since those years usually revolve around sex, angst, and sarcasm.

I can just imagine the thought process "okay so how do we make this so that it's as angsty and serious as we can manage yet still pulls at the hormonal 15 year old?"

Unknown said...

There's probably some sense in a teenage girl's image of an ideal body being like Elven's, but I don't really think that you can get away with it even if it were true that that's what the people in charge were thinking.

The whole scantily clad women = sexual exploitation thing is just too deeply entrenched in comic book discourse to be dislodged.

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