Dark Horse Comics Review: Orphan and the Five Beasts #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer, Artist, Colors and Letters: James Stokoe
Review: Tony Farina
Spurred on by her master’s dying words, the adopted warrior “Orphan Mo” seeks to find and kill five former disciples who now threaten the land with corruption from their demonic powers. Part Five Deadly Venoms and part surreal grindhouse, James Stokoe brings his knack for ultra-detailed fantasy imagery and over-the-top violence to this classic tale of revenge.
Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 is a one man show about a one woman show. We learn so much about her heroine in the opening panels. There is almost no exposition at first and yet, we feel like we totally understated who our title character is and what she can do. The look in her eye is frightening and inviting. The fact that he put the weight of the world on a woman but set the story in a time and place where that kind of thing would seem antithetical is brilliant. Also, there is not one case of someone in the book mistaking Mo for a man. Thank you James. Thank you.
Stokoe gives us a ton of background information in the literal background. I love books that do that. In the tradition of Hard Boiled there is a reward to readers who linger on the pages. While Stokoe is only giving us four issues of this story, he wants to make sure we all get our money’s worth. Again, while light on words, this book is heavy on story. Stoke acknowledges readers can fill in blanks and follow along. It is a smart, fast paced, adventure.
Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 is sparse. I don’t mind it, but I can see why some people will dislike the pages and pages without dialogue. Also, it could come across as a bit tongue in cheek at the end. I am not sure it is, but “Thunder Thighs” while funny, does not really fit the tone of the rest of the book. This isn’t a comedy book. So, I take it for what it is, but it did take me out of the story for a beat, and that is not a great way to wrap up an issue.
Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 is what indie comics are all about. One person, alone in a room and in his head and this is what we get. I am thrilled with the first issue in this mini-series. The fact that there are five beasts but only four issues leads me to believe the breakneck pace will only pick up. I can’t wait to see what comes next.