You can’t help feeling a bit chilled with any story that opens on that note. Animals out to kill you? Legal slavery? Waters rising? What’s going on?
Tom Morello’s Orchid is going on, that’s what. Starting on July 11, Dark Horse Comics will be unleashing this bizarre fantasy epic one volume at a time. The setting is a dark and horrific future, blending a cruel jungle with a deranged society. You’re never safe in the world of Orchid. Animals and people alike are out to get you, and you need to be creative just to live — enacting justice being a different matter entirely.
The story centers on a small group of outcasts. Orchid, the title character, is a young prostitute who was sold into slavery with her younger brother, Yehzu, but then rescued by an odd man named Simon, who himself is one of two remaining members of a band of rebels. Joining them is a mysterious old woman and her horse, and overshadowing the group and their fate is a mysterious mask that had once belonged to a great hero, General China.
Enriching the story is the free soundtracks provided by author Tom Morello, who perhaps best known for his musical endeavors. Codes are provided on the back of each volume for the soundtrack for the issues, but no code is even needed to sample the first song here.
The world given to us in Orchid is rich and detailed, but very different from the worlds of traditional fantasy epics. It’s part post-apocalyptic dystopia and part Jungle Book, with bits thrown in from everywhere else. Scott Hepburn’s distinctive artwork also gives a sharp but beautiful edge to the story, adding to the already bold script.
According to the note about making Orchid in the back of the first volume, Morello was driven both by his love for epic adventures and for his desire for social class justice. Both are clearly apparent from early on in the story and blend in such a way as to set Orchid on a bit different plane than other adventure comics. At times, the tone of the story can get a little overly moralistic, detracting slightly from an otherwise interesting adventure. But it is bold and memorable—featuring a prostitute as the central hero and being startlingly honest about the evils of society. The characters are all well rounded—the heroes have less than honorable judgment at times and sometimes even the worst villains show signs of their own humanity.
Over all, Orchid proves to be an epic adventure unlike any other, with characters fighting for what is usually overlooked in a hostile and mysterious environment.
For more on Orchid, be sure to check out Robb Orr‘s coverage of the first five issues, linked below.