"Orchid: Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Orchid #1 - #4
Written by Tom Morello
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn
2012, 112 Pages
Trade Paperback released on July 11th, 2012
So this is how the world ends. The seas rise. Animals are mutated. Human beings lose their spot at the top of the food chain. After the dust settles and people find land once again, two distinct classes develop: The Have Everythings and the Have Nothings. There's no middle ground. This is the world of Orchid and I really hope it's not a sign of things to come.
This world is not without its heroes though. Some time ago, the mysterious General China led a revolution against the empire of Tomo Wolfe. These "bridge people" found hope in this man and the strange and powerful mask that he wore. Unfortunately, he ultimately failed and was struck down by Wolfe himself. Without their leader, the lower class returned to their life of servitude. That's about to change.
Click images to enlarge.
A young fighter named Anzio has taken up the charge and stolen China's mask from Wolfe. He's captured while escaping, but Simon, one of his Shadow Rebels, grabs the mask and hightails it out of there, eventually encountering a young prostitute by the name of Orchid. She's had a tough life and she's used to being pushed around, but there's just enough fight in her to want to do something.
If Orchid sounds complicated, it's not. There's just such a wealth of information and background in this story. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) crafted this world and started the story ages after everything went to shit. Although this is a limited series, there are so many other stories that can be told. Morello touches on a bit of the history, but each tidbit could be blown out to a full fledged story. Whether it's the creation of the cannibal barges, the fall of government as countries were engulfed in water, or just how Tomo Wolfe rose to power, there's a lot more than what we're told.
Although the world is desolate and depressing, Scott Hepburn sure made it look good. There's so much care and detail provided in each panel. The character designs are fantastic and spot on. You can look at a shot of Orchid or Simon and get an idea of who they are without them saying a word. Where Hepburn really excels, though, are the animals. The gene pool became polluted along the way and what came out of the water was some scary stuff. Mother Nature did not react well to the world ending. These creatures are strange combinations of existing animals but at a much larger scale. You've got bears with huge scorpion tales, bird head on an elephant's body with a dozen legs, and more. The creepiest is this part machine, part wolf that serves Gletkin, an officer in Wolfe's army. It has these massive mechanical jaws and its tail is like a long paintbrush drenched in oil. Regardless of the creature, these are not things you'd ever want to run into in real life.
Click images to enlarge.
As Morello is an incredibly talented musician, he's created a soundtrack for each issue of Orchid. Fans picking up the single issues or this trade paperback will receive access to these tunes.
The real theme of Orchid is hope and finding it when all else is lost. The people in this story haven't seen it in so long that when it does come around again, they don't recognize it. It takes some time for them to realize what it is that they've encountered and what it means. They're just so used to being put down. Orchid actually has the words "Know Your Role" branded into her arm. It's clear that that role is about to change as the revolution begins.