by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Tom Morello, Art by Scott Hepburn
Published: October 2011
Orchid is a post-apocalyptic story, one that imagines society locked in a fierce slave-and-master dynamic between the rich and the poor. The rich can afford to live on high ground and largely avoid the perils of the ever-encroaching ‘wild’, while the poor are doomed to suffer as their slaves, ensuring a strict world order that privileges one group over the other. Naturally, in any good story that involves these elements, there is a resistance. Complicating things is the presence of a mask with rumoured magical abilities, a relic of a failed rebellion that can only be worn by a saint.
This is the first issue of what promises to be a much larger story, but already there’s plenty of interesting conflict. Some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy in an action-movie sort of way, but I prefer cheese over flat characters who speak blandly. The backstory unfolds like a myth being told around a campfire, introducing ecological disaster, the disintegration of society, and the rise and fall of a pseudo-religious rebellion. After the exposition concludes and a brief scuffle ensues, we finally get to meet Orchid, our titular hero, who comes across as a tough, complicated chick.
The art in this one really sells the premise, too. It has a somewhat sketchy quality, but the colours are stark and arresting, and the shadows well-placed to evoke a desolate, devastated landscape where cruelty reigns supreme.
All of this is good stuff, though there are a few head-scratching moments. For example, the opening text suggests that humans no longer remember how to read, but Orchid and the other prostitutes are all tattooed with phrases they can explicitly read. Still, the story is compelling enough that you can shrug away those details (unless you’re detail-oriented that way).
Overall, Orchid is a somewhat familiar but thoroughly intriguing first issue.