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Man-iphant? Ele-man-t? – The Savage She-Hulk #17

February 21, 2011

Here we go, plumbing the depths of ridiculous costumes. You can practically hear the Marvel staff sitting around the Bullpen one brainstormy afternoon:

“How about a rhino?”

“No, you idiot. We’ve already done one of those.”

“Well, okay. How about something that’s not real. Like a unicorn.”

“No, we’ve done one of those too.”

“Oh. Wait, I’ve got it. An elephant!”

“An elephant? An elephant? Are you kidding me? An elephant would make the… You know, it just might work.”

It doesn’t. But not for a lack of trying.

The saga of Jennifer Walters is known to all. Gifted/cursed with Hulk powers through a blood transfusion from gamma-irradiated cousin Bruce Banner, this legally-minded young woman grew to great size and strength and I’m sure was an answer to many a young man’s erotic prayers. I much prefer the later skin-tight costumes that She-Hulk would sport as she became more comfortable in her own green skin — they’re far superior to the torn white one-piece that she always wore in her “Savage” days, her version of purple pants. The pubescent in me sees that old-timey garb and irritatedly asks, “Why the hell isn’t it ripped more? Why the hell can’t I see more skin? Dammit!”

But let’s get back to that “Man-Elephant” thing. “Make Way for the Man-Elephant” (written by David Anthony Kraft, layed out by Mike Vosburg and finished by Frank Springer) serves the dual purpose of introducing a new pseudo-villain and resolving She-Hulk’s legal difficulties. The latter is forgettable. So on to the former.

Here’s the inventor of the elephant suit, Manfred Ellsworth Haller, to explain some of the motivations involved in his bizarre creation:

You know that old line, the one about how pets and their owners start to look alike? Perhaps it applies to animal power suits and their inventors as well. It certainly looks that way, what with Manfred’s ear hair and Zippy the Pinhead skull structure (and I like the elephant tie, too).

He offers his services to track down the fugitive She-Hulk, but the local district attorneys aren’t inclined to accept. Mr. Haller then decides to answer vigilantism with vigilantism, and goes on T.V. to issue a challenge to his quarry — this also gives us a chance to get a little more low-down on that suit:

She-Hulk doesn’t technically answer the challenge (she doesn’t even know about it), but in one of those cosmic comic coincidences she stumbles upon Haller at the appointed time and place. They immediately thrown down — how does the suit hold up in action, you ask?:

Using the trunk like an anaconda doesn’t cut the mustard, so next comes…:

I have a feeling I’ll be using the phrase “coup de gas” in gatherings with male friends for years to come.

The gas attack ultimately fails, so Haller turns to more cowardly stratagems, like using his tusks as grappling hooks and dropping his fat elephant ass on She-Hulk’s head:

That doesn’t work either, and it’s all downhill from there:

When your opponent is flipping you around like Bamm-Bamm would, then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with your plan.

Mercifully for Haller, the authorities show up to let She-Hulk know that she’s clear of all the charges, and Haller sees the error of his ways:

And that’s pretty much it.

Sometimes I get up on my high horse and criticize comics for being too silly. This is not one of those times. I’ll grant that the elephant suit is dumb, but it’s a good kind of dumb. Yes, I’m saying that even in the face of its red underpants. There’s all that remarkable about the art or story, but I still liked reading this — when Haller started using his tusks as grappling hooks, well, at that moment life didn’t seem so hard.

In other words, I don’t think this comic is going to make poor old Joseph Merrick roll over in his grave.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 10:12 pm

    I had totally forgotten this one. I believe it must’ve been due to a psionic mind block, as I normally have a memory like a man-elephant.

    • February 23, 2011 11:53 am

      I think maybe the red underpants were what caused that particular blank spot in your brain.

  2. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:24 am

    I know exactly what you mean about the good kind of dumb. Man, I love comics like this. Which explains why I’ve acquired every appearance of Stilt-Man. I’ve never admitted that in public before.

    Anyway, this is now on my to-get list.

    • February 23, 2011 11:55 am

      Stilt-Man? Dumb? Perish the thought. Perhaps you’ll be pleased (or horrified) to know that I’m currently brewing a Stilt-Man-laden post.

      • Thelonious_Nick permalink
        February 25, 2011 7:53 am

        Definitely pleased! I think his first appearance is still my favorite, in DD#8. In that issue, I’m especially charmed by the little vacuum he uses to suck up valuables during a robbery of a roof-top party.

        Later on he seemed to turn from thievery to assassin-for-hire. DD#103 is kind of a low/high point as you can sense the writer (Chris Claremont!) trying hard to make this guy seem like a real threat rather than a joke. Also, some nice scenes of San Francisco in that issue.

        I’m also partial to his appearance in ASM #237 when he shows some self-awareness and realizes he’s just a laughingstock, and decides to take on Spider-Man in a futile attempt to gain back some pride and self-respect.

        I look forward to seeing what you have to say about him.

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