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Black Orchid

A graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean

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Interesting but still a journeyman work

  • Jan 26, 2003
  • by
I picked this up for three dollars at a remainder fair in Denver while I was there for Anaconism, and read it on the plane coming home. It was a whim purchase, based solely on my good impression of Gaiman from Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett) and his comic series, "Sandman." Black Orchid is a comic, and unlike "Sandman" for the most part, it is set in the superhero populated DC Universe (Batman, Swamp Thing, and the current inhabitants of the Arkham Asylum feature prominently in the story). Gaiman's treatment of the superhero genre is similar to Alan Moore's ("Swamp Thing," "Watchman")--much grittier, much more introspective than the usual porcelain doll pip-ups engaging in the endless slugfest. You know from the beginning, as stated in the introduction by Rolling Stone writer Mikal Gilmore, that something is different: the villain captures the heroine and, instead of revealing his plans to her, he kills her. It is startling in its suddenness and its other-worldliness (at least for superhero comics). Nudity? Sex? Language? These are not taboos anymore in the comic world, but to actually *kill* a character, and in such a matter-of-fact, realistic way, that's shocking. The rest of the book (actually a collection of three comics published in series in 1990) tries to live up to that moment, and sometimes comes close, but ultimately it isn't quite satisfying. Gaiman's willingness to find the trigger makes him someone to search out.

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More Black Orchid reviews
review by . November 26, 2008
Black Orchid by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman
I am not a DC comic fan or collector, so please bear with me in giving you this review from a non-comic owner perspective. While not a follower of the comics, I do love Neil Gaiman. This is the story of how Black Orchid comes to life and seeks out a meaning for, literally, the life given to her. She wants answers to the questions "Who am I? Why am I here?" and is desperate to find a place that she will belong. Her tale is told with cameo appearances by Batman, Swamp Thing, and Poison Ivy; and you …
review by . July 07, 2003
About the same time that Neil Gaiman took a little-known hero called the Sandman and created the rich mythology of Dream and the Endless, he reinvented another obscure character, Black Orchid, a plant-based heroine with ties to the likes of Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing. In this three-part story, Gaiman gives a whole new slant to the character, replacing a standard, gimmicky vigilante with a thought-provoking new entity entirely.Gaiman's story is brilliantly and expressively told through the art of …
About the reviewer
Glen Engel-Cox ()
Ranked #321
Glen is a forty-something communications professional living near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He grew up in Texas and has also lived inLos Angeles, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Glen also … more
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About this book


From one of the most highly recognised and award winning comic writers on the scene today, Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Death, Violent Cases), and his sometime collaborator, innovative artist Dave McKean (Arkham Asylum, Cages, Violent Cases) comes a haunting and stylish exploration of birth, death and renewal. Both human and flower the heroine, Black Orchid, undertakes a hazardous journey to uncover her true origins, providing a moving ecological parable for our times. This work by Gaiman and Mckean is an early showcase for the talent we know today.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 0930289552
ISBN-13: 978-0930289553
Author: Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Vertigo
Date Published: Septermber 1, 1991
Format: Graphic Novel
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