“After being viciously murdered, Susan is reborn fully grown as the Black Orchid, a hybrid of plant and human, in order to avenge her own death. Now as this demigoddess attempts to reconcile her human memories and botanical origins, she must also untangle the webs of deception and secrets that led to her murder. Beginning in the cold streets of a heartless metropolis and ending in the lavish heartland of the thriving Amazon, this book takes the reader through a journey of secrets, suffering, and self-rediscovery.” –from DCComics.com/Vertigo
I picked up a Black Orchid comic quite some time ago because I love female crimefighters, and I find orchids to be both visually pleasing and symbolically appealing, so the combination seemed like the kind of thing I’d enjoy. When I discovered the Gaiman/McKean version of Black Orchid, I knew I’d hit paydirt.
Mr. Gaiman, anybody who reads this blog knows I’m a huge fan, but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to reading Sandman–so my experience of your writing in comics is limited to graphic novels or guest writing of single arcs in continuous series. I’ve liked all the graphia of yours that I’ve read, though, and this trade is no exception. Somehow you managed to write something that captures and keeps my attention, but is so dreamlike that I’ve forgotten what it was about almost as soon as I’ve finished reading it–I’m just left with this really pleasant sense that some kind of fascinating journey has occurred, and I got to go along for the ride. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it’s meant as one.
Part of the dreaminess, though, is the incredible art. Mr. McKean, I love your work no matter what style you’re using, but this gritty-yet-ethereal sort of photorealism works so well with the strange story, and you do such a lovely job making the orchids seem so alien without being frightening. The juxtaposition of color palettes, of gray city and red violence versus the orchids and verdant jungles and things…well, it was fantastic.
Also, I don’t know if the excellent placement and coloration of the text boxes and speech bubbles were part of the art or went with the lettering work, but either way, it was brilliant. Mr. Klein, never let it be said that I don’t appreciate excellent lettering–you make the whole thing readable, and yet it never looked out of place with the art style. Awesome.
Four enthusiastic stars for Black Orchid!