Much as the majority of my vast comic collection comprised of Marvel, DC, Aspen and Top Cow (Image) comics, I do try to expand on several other titles from Dark Horse and even Dynamite entertainment. Dark Horse comics have always proven to be one of those independents that always try to do something different, and this is the case with writer Tom Morello and artist Scott Hepburn’s “Orchid”, so I took a chance and picked up issue # 1.
“Orchid” has a premise that takes place in an unknown time in the future. The story begins after an ‘apocalypse’; a time when the seas have rose, genetic codes were rewritten, settlements are surrounded by the wild where ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. There is an elevated area populated by the high and wealthy, that overlooks the swampland where small towns struggle to exist. Only an iron fist can rule and to maintain order, they must harvest the poor as slaves. But this is not a world without rebellion, as a mythical mask may give hope to the enslaved. This is a story of a woman called Orchid and a rebel leader called Anxio….oh there is also a man called Simon…
For a first issue, writer Tom Morello takes the reader for a glimpse of this apocalyptic world. The pecking order that exists in this wasteland comes as no surprise, and the writing merely touches upon who and what their intentions are. Morello instead through the use of this miserable wasteland introduces our characters, Anxio and his men are used to communicate the importance of hope in the eyes of a mask. It remains to be seen whether the legends behind such an object are true, and Morello clearly does a little bit of foreshadowing. This world is introduced through deeds of brutality and the art by Hepburn does not hold back on some of its gory details. Hepburn’s art seems to carry some influences of Mignola’s art or even Jae Lee's, but I am uncertain. (too tired to think straight tonight)
In this world, we catch a glimpse of four types of people; slave traders, rebels, properties (slave class) and a militia headed by Don Gletkin. There is a strong commentary as to how fortunate men seem to prey on the weak, profit from misfortune and how they would stoop to anything to keep their rule. It is yet to be seen whether Morello will go as far as comparing the mutated animals to the people who populate this world, and this first issue is a move to try to establish its foundations, however, a bit uneven as it would seem. The dialogue has some profanity, and the sequences have hinted at sex on occasion. Not sure what the art design is trying to say, as the head gears of the ‘properties’ appear to resemble those worn by native Americans (too soon to make a judgment call).
However, even in such a world, there remains some small amount of decency even at the darkest areas, as people still seem to care and look out for each other. Whether their motivations are pure or not, there is some good that may be masked by a gray area. The title character is not your typical heroine, but rather she is some sort of prostitute, and the tattoo clearly marks her as a ‘property’. Orchid does appear to live by a certain principle, and in this world, principle may just get you killed. This is a world where decency may indeed get you killed or abused. This first issue seems to cover a lot of areas, but it never seems to gain its ground with the narrative; it feels a little episodic or incoherent at some points.
“Orchid” is a title with a first issue that may be a little too vague and the writing wasn't really that strong to really tell where the series is headed but I would bet that it has something to do with some sort of a ‘coming‘ of a symbol or a hero and the possible rise of a new rebellion. I am not hooked yet but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. I’ll let you know what I learn the next issue and I hope it gets more focus by then.
Worth a Peek [3 Out of 5 Stars]
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