Graphic Novel Book Club – Black Orchid

I recently started going to a book club at my local comic shop here in Lewisville, TX. Boomerang Comics the last Tuesday of every month if you are interested. I tossed it out there as an idea and I guess I’ll bring the book club to 8DAG. So every month I will read and review the graphic novel or tpb that the club is covering (I’ll announce the following months book if anyone wants to play along) and do a general discussion of that months discussion.

imagesIFQVMLGALast months book was the 1988 origin story of the classic DC heroin Black Orchid. She’s a bit of an obscure character from DC’s past (see the wiki). Mostly she seems to be a crime investigator who uses disguises to root out evil plots. In the Gaiman retelling we learn that she is part plant and the clone of an abused woman and created by her life long love and best friend, who happened to go to college with Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy. Orchid finds herself alone and questioning her existence while being pursued by Lex Luthor for her abilities.

It was a strange tale told through elegance and style that only a Dave McKean-Neil Gaiman team-up can bring about. If you are familiar with their work or if you are just a Gaiman fan, this is a good read. It’s a good read anyways.

The art is brilliant and uses color in a creative way. Though the book is over 20-years-old it does not come across that way.

tumblr_m8yeizub5q1rwfocao1_500This months book club meeting, and my first meeting, was a little odd. I decided on a whim at the register one day earlier in the month to attend and somehow was given the TPB for Orchid the post-apocalyptic story by Rage Against The Machines Tom Morello. So I was surprised to see everyone holding an entirely different book upon arrival. Everyone was nice enough to fill me in on what the hell they were talking about but I was still a little lost. The general mood toward the story was positive, though after reading it there were a few interpretations I’m not sure I gathered or felt were accurate.

It seemed like some thought that the two flower-people flew into the sun at the end, which I didn’t get at all. A few panels earlier they were even forewarning henchmen. You don’t forewarn when you are going to suicide into the sun in just a few moments. It serves no purpose.

472241I was impressed by some of the groups prior knowledge to Orchid and her earl life in DC, but it seemed like most had wiki’d the BG for this less noteworthy character. It was observed that the story seemed to bring abuse to the forefront of it’s story telling which all agreed was sort of breaking ground at the time it was written and I agree with that. Though I don’t recall the subtle hints at sexual abuse being brought up, which I gathered from young Suzie’s backstory. It was only hinted at, so it could be I’m mistaken. Her dad does stop being friends with he neighbor after some sort of secret sharing and he becomes insane with rage after she kisses her best friend in the shed.

OWwK8I found out that Black Orchid is in JL Dark. After a quick spin through the ol’ Google box I found that her old pal Swamp Thing has been dropping in on the scarier side of the JL universe. So they meet up again (though I guess the current Orchid is young Suzy grown up from the Gaiman book).

By the end of the night it was agreed that the story was good enough (to at least not resale as some stated).

 

The ending was quiet and subtle but if you are interested in good complete stories then pick up this Gaiman classic. Next month we are reading the recently released compilation of The Winter Soldier in preparation for the upcoming film. I kind of feel like I influenced the group to go that way, though I would have been more than happy read our other choices (more Cap or Godzilla). Honestly the Winter Soldier story arch is good. I guess I’ll talk more about that after the new book club meeting.

 

Feel free to disagree with me below or @werewolforigin. Comment or share your thoughts on Black Orchid. You can also pick up the new Winter Soldier compilation and participate next month. See you then.

About Eric bookout

Writer/Artist for X amount of years. Recently worked with people from IGN on a comic and studied writing under Victor Gischler of Marvel Comics at RSU in Oklahoma more X amount of years ago. Follow me @WerewolfOrigin on twitter
Bookmark the permalink.

Get the conversation started