Group Review: Burn the Orphanage #1 (of 3)

Of all the genres of entertainment, video games and comics tend to feed off of each other in the most symbiotic of ways. It’s like art imitating life, imitating art only with video games and comics. That said, we became interested in this series when the creators said it was their love note to the 2-D beat’em up genre. With all of our group reviews the writers/reviewers of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass and then a reason why they choose their score. First here’s a quick blurb about the issue: A young orphan named Rock was left for dead, now he's out for revenge! With partners Lex and Bear by his side, our hero will find out who burned his home and family to the ground. If that means taking on every goon, punk, and topless stripper ninja in the city... then so be it. PART ONE OF THE BORN TO LOSE TRILOGY!

Steve - Borrow

Okay, so, the first thing you’re gonna need to do before reading Burn the Orphanage is switch your noggin to Sega Genesis logic, because this is a direct comic adaptation of games like Final Fight, Fatal Fury and Streets of Rage. What begins in a very basic childhood revenge setup, quickly blossoms into a flurry of punches, slide kicks, military presses and other sweet moves employed by street karate enthusiasts. Any comic that explores the quiet art of hitting people with other people is A-Okay in my book, particularly when those people are ninja strippers, as is the case here. Also, that double-page-spread decapitation is worth the price of admission alone.

Still, I’m gonna give this a solid borrow, mostly because I don’t think everyone is going to get the joke, even though it’s pretty goddamn clear (there’s even a FIGHT! screen at one point). The art is pretty basic, with thick line work and not much detail between, but that’s all it needs to be, honestly. Look, let’s make this as simple as the comic intends to be: if you’ve ever delivered a “Haggar piledriver” - and don’t think that’s just some weird sex move (pervert) - you’ll probably get a few laughs out of Burn the Orphanage. I know I did.

burnorphana01_coverbSamantha: Borrow

I didn’t get this. Rock is a rough kid who grew up an orphan. Now he channels his pain through beating people up in order to find the truth of why his home was burnt to the ground. First off, I think these mobsters would have guns that could just shoot Rock; no punches needed. Secondly, since when is beating people up lead to anything good. Ok call me “mom” all you want but seriously the story of having an angst man turn his anger into finding truth is overdone for me.

Sina Grace has some nice art for this comic though. It is a throwback for sure to the 90s or maybe 80s. Clearly Street Fighter was being played while planning this comic. I also think that this comic could be a prequel to the Chuck Norris life story. I dig martial arts so maybe that is why I cannot completely rule out this comic as a pass. I just think something more needs to happen besides poor boy kicks way to the top. Martial art has rules and codes. Rock and his friends just like to beat people up. No rule is behind that. All in all it just wasn’t the story for me. I can always just watch Karate Kid if I wanted my fighting fix.

Carl: Borrow

I wish I had my Power Glove for this comic book.

A side scrolling fighting game turned sequential art, Burn The Orphanage provides its readers with hard hits, stripper ninjas, and big gay brawlers.  Over the top and fun, this comic never takes itself seriously—and that is its greatest asset.  Rock, the player 1 character, wants to find out who burned down his childhood orphanage.  He sets out punching information out of people to get his answers.  Along the way other players buy in to assist in the fighting.

While not a groundbreaking comic, this book has pure tongue-in-cheek fun moments.  If you go into this with some familiarity with 90’s video games and low expectations, you will have a good time.

burnorphana01_coveraDustin: Borrow

Actually I would say just wait for the trade and I feel terrible saying that, but this issue disappointed me. The creators got me excited with just the way they talked about this series and the influences that they were pulling from. Unfortunately they decided to break the story up into three “video games” with this being part one of a trilogy which means each issue is a complete story. I like that idea, it’s a great idea and I was very surprised to discover that there was a complete story. It just felt like we spent no time getting there meaning it wasn’t rewarding getting there either. Rock basically wishes to be at the final boss and we’re there. There are essentially levels that he must pass in order to get there, but no other bosses.

I went into this willing to forgive character motivation and plot. I knew what the book was and I just wanted to have great fights and awesome one-liners. That didn’t happen either. The fights were all very generic and there was no real sense of action to any of the scenes. This was 100% the art’s duty to deliver and instead of dynamic scenes that felt intense it was just men grabbing each other haphazardly and a booby fight. The dialog/one-liners wasn’t even laughably bad, it was just bad. It was trying so hard to be clever and funny that it missed the mark each and every time. This marked the first time in my life that I haven’t laughed at someone saying they’re “rock hard”, which is a sad day indeed. I was looking forward to this issue and while it’s a great idea I don’t see this team delivering the goods. If curiosity gets the better of you wait for a friend to pick it up or again, just wait for the trade.

Score: Borrow It

Writers: Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace

Artist: Sina Grace

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 8/7/13