Orchid comes from the mind of Rage Against the Machine’s front man Tom Morello and this first issue has a grim future that offers little hope. The world has spun out of control and society, although advanced with knowledge has taken a step back to dark days; days when people are traded like cattle and one of the only jobs a woman can find is that of a prostitute. The picture painted to the readers is that of one of despair, but there is an underlining glimmer of a brighter future... somewhere. The story truly opens with the ocean swallowing up the world as we know it and forcing what’s left of humanity to the hills. The world develops and dangerous creatures emerge, but humanity pushes forward. But the high ground becomes the home for the rich and the poor are left to struggle and die. Until one man raised an army against them, it was a valiant effort,but in the end he died as well. Now the poor look at his mask as a symbol of hope and a new group of rebels have stolen the mask to start the uprising anew. Unfortunately they can’t quite escape and are soon captured by the palace guards. As they begin killing the rebels one by one with the very mask they stole, one of them manages to break free and take it over the cliff with them.
There’s quite a bit more of the story, but really I would just be walking you through it page by page. Again it its bleak and what’s scarier is that there is enough real world situations used that this outcome starts to look like a possibility for the future. This first issue may be hopeless, but the way it ends can only lead to a new future and new uprising. Then it will become a matter of the ending, will it be happy and hopeful or will event sin the first issue foreshadow something darker?
Morello does a fine job on his first outing as a comic writer. Since this was an advanced look at the book I don’t have any of the usual writing credits to see if someone was helping on breakdowns. Regardless it’s an interesting story that reminds me a lot of Rob Zombies work in comics. Grim dark worlds where in the end the monsters always seem to win. Hopefully Morello’s story won’t be so transparent and he’ll offer some different twists and turns yet to have been seen from his mind. It's not a new trend to have a musician write a comic and Dark Horse is no stranger to making it work. I'm not going to compare The Umbrella Academy to Orchid, that will be up to other readers to decide if this book can capture as big of an audience.
The art is good and it matches the story. Again it feels looks like the art that usually graces a Rob Zombie book, but that’s a very good thing. There is a good amount of realism in the art that matches the tone and message that Morello is going for, but there is also a supernatural futuristic aspect of the story that the artist nails as well. What was most impressive about the art was how rich and full each page was, it really made this terrible world come to life and all the more chilling because of it.
This book is going to be Dark Horse’s first day and date digital book, but interesting enough they’re offering an incentive to people to buy the book in print for $1 if they pre-order. I don’t know if you actually have to pre-order, but I would say it’s worth looking into. The book, even though devoid of hope, has a lot of interesting aspects to it that if played right could make it one of the stronger series to premier this year in comics.Whether you buy it in print or digital, just know that it’s worth the money either way.