Review: The Orphan King #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Publisher: A Wave Blue World
Writer: Tyler Chin-Tanner
Artist: James Boyle
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Pete Carlsson
Reviewed by: Seth Singleton
The Orphan King #1 introduces the question of whether kings are born or made. Prince Kaidan is the son of a king. His blood ensures he will take the throne once he completes his secret magical training. But when tragedy strikes, Kaidan returns home to find his parents missing, and his kingdom destroyed, along with his hopes and dreams.
Positives — Arthurian Connections
“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town,” is the Cliffs Notes version of the original quote from Leo Tolstoy. The quote is a misquote. It is also the one most remembered.
The Orphan King opens with a figure asking who is approaching. The view is obscured. The figure approaching is washed over in a mist or fog or a combination of the two. The kind that is always present close to the shore.
The moment offers the lovely suggestion of the expectation of a knight wearing armor. The reality is a young boy wearing a very expensive suit of armor that looks like gold.
This will immediately draw fans of the Arthurian legend to images created by the imagination while reading one of the many versions of King Arthur that are available in print. Some readers will recall the movie Excalibur from the early 1980s. The ideas of suggestion and the familiarity that many fantasy fans have with King Arthur and the many myths told about him are a strength that this comic plays on.
Positives — Characters
Besides the armor, this scene also points out that the young knight is human. The ferryman’s appearance is humanoid with features that remind this reviewer of Ambush Bug from DC Comics and similar depictions of extraterrestrial and non-human species.
Also of interest is the form of payment required to employ the ferryman. It is the reason that Kaidan gets involved in a scuffle with one of his classmates from a sword training class they both attend. The situation quickly escalates to a trial by combat.
But Kaidan’s opponent is at a disadvantage. When Kaidan discovers why he quickly shows the compassion that his father the king does not possess. The flashback does the important job of conveying the type of person Kaidan is and the King he aspires to be. Right before he makes an unnerving discovery.
This isn’t a negative of the book itself, but the king is a jerk. He’s callous and condescending.
The persistence of the legends surrounding King Arthur is a boon for storytellers. Every version offers material that can be used or discarded. Fans old and new will find delight in this version by Tyler Chin-Tanner. He tells a story that recognizes the familiar while telling its own original narrative.
James Boyle’s art is very crisp. The lines are clean the colors by Andrew Dalhouse are bright. The letters by Pete Carlsson convey meaning and emotion. The result is a story that invites those who are new to the Arthurian myth and entices those who think they have had heard or read every version possible.