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Orchid #1

By Dan Horn
October 12, 2011 - 18:30

Obey artist Shepard Fairey's variant cover art
Activist and musician Tom Morello makes his comic book debut with Orchid #1. Orchid is the tale of a world in which the ice caps have melted, the seas have risen, evolution accelerates, and the rich and powerful prey on the weak and poor. Once, a man named General China, in possession of a mask that granted him great and mysterious power, rose to lead the poor Bridge People against Tomo Wolfe, a despotic ruler. China was eventually killed, however, and Tomo Wolfe's forces have taken his mask, a hood that can only be worn by a "saint." A rebel ambush liberates the mask from Wolfe's caravan, but only one rebel, Simon, escapes from the ruthless soldiers of Fortress Penuel, the mountain city. With the mask of General China, Simon happens upon an impoverished shantytown and has a chance encounter with a prostitute name Orchid who has a few problems of her own.

Orchid #1 is a solid start for a comics new-comer in that it at least makes sense. The story and the language contained within, unfortunately, are extremely derivative. Sure, there's nothing new under the sun, but this is a book that doesn't even try to disarm its readers' scruples. The story opens with an obligatory exposition dump and launches right into a middling mash-up of heavily worn premises. The modern allegory is unsubtle, yet appreciated. The artwork is enjoyable with some gorgeous and innovative creatures, characters, and landscapes.

Morello and artist Scott Hepburn give Orchid a concrete foundation, but don't succeed in much more than that. This story isn't as explosive as I would have guessed a Morello helmed comic to be, nor is it as relevantly charged and intelligent as I would have hoped. It does show some promise, though.

Rating: 6 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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