Writer: Tom Morello
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Time and time again, we see celebrities use their fame to try and enter other realms of entertainment. We’ve seen singers become actors, actors become singers, athletes becomes movie stars and movie stars become wrestlers. The quality of the transition can vary wildly from one person to the next. So of course reading a comic book created by a musician would raise some red flags to some, but after reading the first issue of Orchid, it seems like we have a hit in the making. But don’t just take early praise for it, join me on the journey!
This comic has a lot to establish in a few short pages, and it does a remarkable job of introducing us to the world, and all the major players and still end on a compelling cliffhanger. But before we talk the end, we need to start at the beginning. The first few pages depicts the fall of civilization as we know it. As we see famousÂ monumentsÂ like Mount Rushmore slowly sinking into the sea, and even cities under water, we learn that due to some accident, the seas have risen and mankind has been forced to retreat to higher ground. While this is happening, evolution takes its roll and creates newer and more dangerous creatures that have no bones picking on humans.
Those with money are able to retreat to some of the highest lands in the world, and build very-well fortified bases on the top. Those without are forced to make due with the low-rise parts of the world or setting up camps under fallen bridges and the likes.
In this new world, old behaviors resurface. Mankind has taken to enslaving fellow men and women alike to do work for them. Women have taken to the street to sell their body to feed their families. And brutality rules the day.
During all of this, one man banded together a group of people and tried to start a rebellion. The rebellion was quickly sniffed out, and his mask taken as a trophy, but legend and word spread. And we join the story in progress, as another brave soul leads a small squad of rebels to steal back the mask, a sign of hope.
It is during this scene that we are introduced to Anzio, the leader of the Shadow Rebels, and Simon, one of the members. While Anzio has his moment to shine, Simon soon becomes the focus on this first issue. Throughout the book, we learn that Simon is intelligent, well-spoken and a bit sarcastic, but he has a genuine good-heart. As we see later on in the book.
This is also where we learn the true purpose of the mask. Not only is it a symbol of hope for the bridge people, but it is said to grant its wearer special powers. However, the person must be a true saint in order to wield the mask. As we see, in some rather gruesome deaths, that the wrong-wearer will meet their end.
Following this, there are a ton of plot twists and character introductions, but I don’t want to spoil anything else, as I think the reader will enjoy discovering it for themselves. I will note, I thought it was fairly interesting that the title of the comic isn’t introduced until the final 1/3rd of the book. Its an interesting hook to keep you moving forward.
The story and writing in this book is top-notch. It does a hell of a job cramming in so much information without being overly verbose or clogging the page with various forms of text boxes. Most of the characters, make the best of the page-time they are given. And by the end of it, I have a fair idea of the characters who will be important going forward and their motivation.
The art in the book is solid. One of the things that most impressed me, is its a book that is able to do a post-apocalypticÂ world without relying on the orange and brown color-scheme a lot of movies and game use to do it. There is a fair amount of color present in the book. Red creatures, red and blue masks and just your general water and clothing.
Another area that this book excels in is the facial expressions. Comics are said to be a visual medium, but a non-moving one. So a panel has to tell many stories, and Hepburn does a terrific job of conveying fear, horror, bewilderment and shock in some of the panels. Again, won’t go into specifics to avoid spoilers, but you’ll know it when you see it.
Finally, I have to give a special recognition to the overall design of the world. Building a world isn’t easy, but we get many different types of location, many are given their own feel. We’re given many costume designs that really do help distinguish areas of this new world. And a special shout-out to Simon’s glasses, which I think are just awesome.
New Reader Accessibility: 5-Its the first issue of a brand-new series. If that doesn’t scream new reader friendly, I don’t know what would. But it does a remarkable job of pulling the audience into this world, and that’s all you could ask for.
Recommendation: Buy It– An interesting solid read from cover to cover. A good central character, an interesting premise, fantastic art, it is the total package of comics.