It’s Inauguration day in the U.S. – this year coinciding with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, leaving many Americans home from work and looking for a good read to turn to inbetwixt politically-rousing TV. Dark Horse Comics’ Orchid, by Tom Morello and Scott Hepburn, offers up just the right amount of social criticism to be fitting of this civic holiday, while packing in all the action set-pieces and mutant creatures you look for in a day off work.
Orchid, which earned a Minty Award last year for best new series, concludes with Issue #12 (on shelves January 30th). We’ve been big fans of this book from day one and if you ignored our previous recommendations, you can catch up with the first two trade paperbacks (also on sale). Throughout the 12 issue series, we’re brought into a world ravaged by cataclysmic floods, genetic mutation and the rise of a tyrant autocracy. Generations have lived in the throws of dystopia, inspired only by a small band of rebels and legends of their supernatural champion, General China. Just as things seem at their bleakest, the fledgling rebellion is given new hope in the form of a former slave girl named Orchid.
The inspired creativity of Tom Morello is well-documented. So it comes as no surprise that Orchid is a rich fantasy tale with big concepts and elaborate world-building. Guitarist-turned-writer, Morello (The Night Watchman, Rage Against the Machine), made a career pushing the boundaries of sound, emanating from an electric guitar. His work on Orchid isn’t quite as revolutionary, but it’s no less inventive. What is surprising, is the degree to which Morello asserts himself as a comic writer over the course of the series. In my early reviews, I criticized this book of being overly-verbose – a common flaw of writers from outside the world of comics. But by the end of the series, he’s able to find a good balance of show and tell, allowing Scott Hepburn to carry the storytelling with his expressive, kinetic line.
Orchid is a mature readers title. The bloody revolution strewn across its pages is a far cry from the civil disobedience championed by Dr. King. But as an entertaining dystopian epic, as a revenge fantasy, as a tale of heroism and rising against oppression – it hits all the right notes. Pre-order issue #12 from your local comic shop and enjoy the uprising.