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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's graceful, introspective tale.
About the same time that Neil Gaiman took a little-known hero called the Sandman and created the rich mythology of Dream and the Endless, he reinvented another obscure character, Black Orchid, a plant-based heroine with ties to the likes of Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing. In this three-part story, Gaiman gives a whole new slant to the character, replacing a standard, gimmicky...
Published on July 7, 2003 by Tom Knapp

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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Story From the Protean Days of Gaiman/McKean
Fans of the Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean collaboration which revolutionized the comic art form will find "Black Orchid" an interesting look back at this alliance in its infancy. The story itself is not quite as laudable on its own merits, however.
Gaiman continues his early apprenticeship under Alan Moore and Rick Veitch here, and this work could be viewed as...
Published on February 12, 2000 by Jeffrey A. Veyera


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's graceful, introspective tale., July 7, 2003
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
About the same time that Neil Gaiman took a little-known hero called the Sandman and created the rich mythology of Dream and the Endless, he reinvented another obscure character, Black Orchid, a plant-based heroine with ties to the likes of Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing. In this three-part story, Gaiman gives a whole new slant to the character, replacing a standard, gimmicky vigilante with a thought-provoking new entity entirely.
Gaiman's story is brilliantly and expressively told through the art of Dave McKean. McKean employs very little color in his art -- most of the characters and settings are painted in shades of grey. Orchid moves through her drab surroundings in hues of purple. Other colors accent the landscape -- glints of light, flecks of blood, shades of leaves.
Black Orchid is a beautiful tale, though at times violent, and I wonder why this character has been ignored in the years since its release. She deserves to see the light of day again. Soon.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Story From the Protean Days of Gaiman/McKean, February 12, 2000
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
Fans of the Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean collaboration which revolutionized the comic art form will find "Black Orchid" an interesting look back at this alliance in its infancy. The story itself is not quite as laudable on its own merits, however.
Gaiman continues his early apprenticeship under Alan Moore and Rick Veitch here, and this work could be viewed as an open homage to the latter's run on "Swamp Thing." The stable of Swamp Thing characters appear here at various points and fans of this comic will undoubtedly find the tale familiar.
Of greater interest is Gaiman's attempt to take an obscure DC character and breath fresh life (and a bit of the supernatural) into it. While the initial shock of how he intends "Black Orchid" to depart from the conventions of the superhero genre is spoiled by the introduction (trust me: read this LAST), it still has impact, and shows the audacity we would come to expect of Gaiman later.
The rest of the tale doesn't quite hold up. Perhaps Gaiman lost steam after the breathtaking first installment and didn't know quite how to wrap it up; perhaps giving birth to The Sandman soaked up all his creative oxygen and left this story in the lurch. Regardless, the last few chapters of the story meander all over the place and resolve themselves in a wholly unsatisfactory manner.
The artwork is vintage McKean and quite beautiful. The illustrator shows a great willingness to take chances with perspective and color to enhance the narrative and it is clear that McKean at this early stage possesses more confidence than Gaiman.
I recommend "Black Orchid" to Gaiman & McKean fans interested in the early stages of their partnership, warts and all, and to Swamp Thing fans curious to see how the milieu is translated by the author. Otherwise, I'm afraid this is of only marginal value to comic book readers.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid caused my love of Graphic Novels to bloom!, March 6, 2004
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
I am not a DC comic fan or collector, so please bear with me in giving you this review from a non-comic owner perspective.
While not a follower of the comics, I do love Neil Gaiman. This is the story of how Black Orchid comes to life and seeks out a meaning for, literally, the life given to her. She wants answers to the questions "Who am I? Why am I here?" and is desperate to find a place that she will belong.
Her tale is told with cameo appearances by Batman, Swamp Thing, and Poison Ivy; and you should not miss the nightmarish visit to the Arkham Asylum where a skeletal, sleepless man spills his nightmares on the floor, and the x-ray man weeps burning tears onto the floor.
She awakens as the Black Orchid in the greenhouse at Dr. Phillip Sylvian, with the memories of a woman named Susan Linden. Phil tells her about a little of her background, and tells her of those who he went to college with, without whom she would not be alive; Dr. Jason Woodrue, Pamela Isley and Alec Holland.
But before he can reveal everything to her, Phil is killed and the Black Orchid is on her own. Her ex husband Carl Thorne finds out about her plant-reincarnation, and makes a visit to her, killing all but one of the smaller plants that Phil has been nurturing. Black Orchid takes the little one with her, "Suzy", to Gotham city where a tip from a friend sends her off along to Arkham Asylum to speak with Poison Ivy. Suzy is snatched by Lexcorp, but after a quick visit with Swamp Thing, Black Orchid rescues Suzy and they fly off to the Amazon Rainforest where Black Orchid can plant her seeds.
But there are still those who hunt her down; her ex husband who is trying to kill her again, and the Lexcorp minions sent into the rainforest to bring her back alive so that she can be dissected. What a girl...er...plant, to do?
Brief comic strip type prose does not stop Gaiman from bringing to life a fully fleshed out story, and the artwork of Dave McKean is to be applauded. Moving from shades of gray to brilliantly splashed pages of vibrant color, he paints brutality, horror, and the sereneness of nature in the same ethereal fashion. This is an excellent choice for those who are just starting to dip their toes and get their feet wet in the world of Graphic Novels. Enjoy!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid - THE DELUXE EDITION HC (2012), May 13, 2012
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This review is from: Black Orchid Deluxe Edition (Hardcover)
I will focus this review on the new edition of the book itself, rather than the work of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean: there are currently 30 reviews right here on Amazon, so I really don't have much to add on the matter. I'll just say this is a truly remarkable work, worth owning in your library.

DC/Vertigo finally seems to start getting serious about this Deluxe hardcovers line: this new Black Orchid edition displays a fine standard of quality (very much like the recent Flex Mentallo and the Fables Deluxe series):

- The paper stock is glossy and heavy weight.
- The printing quality is great, with pristine reproductions of McKean's art.
- The book features a full-color printed hardback under the dustjacket (unlike most of DC/Vertigo HCs that have just a plain dark grey presentation).
- It's a solid glued binding book. I would have liked a sewn one, but given that this is a slim volume and there's little gutter loss, I can live with it.
- The dustjacket features a new illustration by Dave McKean.
- We get an 18-pages section of extras at the end of the book, with notes, sketches and excerpts by Neil Gaiman (including manuscripts) and comments by editor Karen Berger (but nothing from McKean, unfortunately). Very interesting material if you want to dig into Gaiman's creative process.

New Deluxe Edition VS old TPB edition:
This new hardcover features the same contents of the old paperback (full introduction by Mikal Gilmore, acknowledgements and updated biographies). The design of the book is beatiful, quite similar to the old one but also updated and polished, and the original front and back covers designed by McKean for the TPB are printed directly on the hardback of the book, under the dustjacket.

In conclusion, I'm pretty happy with this new edition: we get an oversized, good quality hardcover for an affordable price, with all of the previous TPB contents plus an 18-pages extras section.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but not great either, December 22, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
this is the one gaiman/mckean work that had escaped my collection until recently and to tell the truth I was a bit disappointed. the artwork is excellent (mckean always is excellent) but not as inventive as his later work. and I think gaiman definitely is way too political in this book. his blatant statements about the environment are nothing short of spelled out. As far as putting in other DC Universe characters; I , for one, expect more creativity from Gaiman. The cameos were too simple and didn't really add to the story. More a marketing ploy really, I think.
this is a fine piece of work, but I would suggest others by gaiman such as: anything from the sandman series, violent cases, angels and visitations or neverwhere. on the mckean side I would suggest cages or arkham asylum.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but still a journeyman work, January 26, 2003
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
I picked this up for three dollars at a remainder fair in Denver while I was there for Anaconism, and read it on the plane coming home. It was a whim purchase, based solely on my good impression of Gaiman from Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett) and his comic series, "Sandman." Black Orchid is a comic, and unlike "Sandman" for the most part, it is set in the superhero populated DC Universe (Batman, Swamp Thing, and the current inhabitants of the Arkham Asylum feature prominently in the story). Gaiman's treatment of the superhero genre is similar to Alan Moore's ("Swamp Thing," "Watchman")--much grittier, much more introspective than the usual porcelain doll pip-ups engaging in the endless slugfest. You know from the beginning, as stated in the introduction by Rolling Stone writer Mikal Gilmore, that something is different: the villain captures the heroine and, instead of revealing his plans to her, he kills her. It is startling in its suddenness and its other-worldliness (at least for superhero comics). Nudity? Sex? Language? These are not taboos anymore in the comic world, but to actually *kill* a character, and in such a matter-of-fact, realistic way, that's shocking. The rest of the book (actually a collection of three comics published in series in 1990) tries to live up to that moment, and sometimes comes close, but ultimately it isn't quite satisfying. Gaiman's willingness to find the trigger makes him someone to search out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid, December 15, 2006
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
Black Orchid, fresh as a daisy from her Adventure Comics appearances, had shown up as the resident mystery-woman of the Suicide Squad (series). She even did a flyby in the first Deadshot mini-series, saving his life. It looked like she had a bright future as a trad costumed crime-fighter. Then, someone put Neil Gaiman in charge of her, and that was the end of that. I know that Gaiman once intro'd a Doctor Who novella penned by another writer by saying that it was probably fortunate he never wrote for Doctor Who, as he would likely dismantle the existing mythos and start from scratch. Or words to that effect. When I read and re-read the Black Orchid mini-series turned graphic novel, I see what he means. Seldom has a character started her own mini-series by dying at the hands of a Lex Luthor flunky; it's a wonderfully moving exit. Enter the NEW Black Orchid, courtesy of some freaky greenhouse effect (ie. waking up from nothingness in a greenhouse), a birth so inexplicable that this purple plant-woman spends the rest of the story trying to find out why it happened, and what she is.

Unfortunately for her, Lex Luthor gets wind of the fact that when you send a malicious little yes-man rat--that would be Mr. Sterling--to kill a meddling super-heroine, powerful flower-women are born, grown, cultivated, whatever. So Sterling and a cadre of hired guns set out to find Orchid and her companion, Suzy--sort of the smaller version of our title character. So, while Black Orchid follows a trail of memories and hints that lead to Arkham Asylum's depths, featuring Poison Ivy and the Mad Hatter (among others), plus Batman, and Alec Holland and the Green, and ultimately, a paradisical patch of Rain Forest. Okay, okay, Alec Holland is Swamp Thing, that dude from a cheesy Wes Craven movie, played by a guy from Robocop when he's Alec, and some other guy who played an evil version of the Incredible Hulk in some old 2-part Hulk episode. Oh, and there are Swamp Thing graphic novels too. But I digress.

Ultimately, this Black Orchid tale--the one that reinvents her after destroying her--is not as simple as it seems after a first reading. There are many layers to explore, as we learn about the past of Susan, the woman who gave rise to all the Black Orchids. Her past is tragic and unfair, and some of it comes back to haunt the plant-woman created from her DNA and, uh, orchids. Susan's abusive ex-husband, Carl, who used to work for Lex Luthor until he failed him, is back, for a piece of the action. His methods for taking said piece are nasty, and bode ill for Black Orchid and anyone she cares for--or distantly remembers caring for in another life, or the life before that, or...well. I said it was complex.

And beautiful. If the story ends rather too neatly and cleanly, then this weakness is made up for by absolutely breath-taking art from start to finish. Another little criticism would be Batman's rather wooden, overdone dialogue--but again, erase all de-merit points thanks to the fantabulous Dave McKean visuals. The purples, the blues, the blue-greens, the orange, the black, the grey, the perfectly-captured smirks of the petty and violent versus the dazzling vibrancy of jungle colour. This is not comic-book art; this is chapel-wall stuff, stolen form some priceless exhibit somewhere and infused into some humble undeserving pop-art format. Revel in it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman delivers, July 12, 2001
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
I don't like everything that Neil Gaiman writes but I have to say that I DO like this book. Philip, an old classmate of Alec Holland (who became Swamp Thing later) has never had too many friends during his youth. He was considered a geek because most of his attention went to botanism in which he put almost all his time. One of the people who HAS been his friend during his young years is Susan, who he loved dearly. Once the time came that Susan disappeared out of Philips life he was heartbroken. Susan went on to marry a criminal, Carl, which got her killed, and Philip went back to his dream of trying to breed living 'flowerpeople', hybrids. Now, the present. After seven years in jail Carl, who blames Susan for his arrest, comes looking for Philip because he blames Philip for what went wrong between him and Susan . What he then finds in Philips basement is too stunning for words, Philip succeeded ! He calls his old employer Luthor about what he found (indeed, Superman's Luthor ) hoping to get in his grace again, but before Luthor is able to arrive Carl screws up and the whole basement is destroyed, and everything alive in it is dead, bar two creatures who got away. Than starts the quest of the two heavily confused escaped beings, Black Orchids, to find out what they are, who they are and where they belong. A quest which leads them through places like Arkham Asylum and even to the jungle-swamp of Swamp Thing himself. Meanwhile the hordes of Luthor are trying to track them down and there's also the matter of the man who has fallen from grace, Carl, who's also madly in pursuit.
This book takes superhero characters (like Batman, Swamp Thing, Batman, Poison Ivy etc.), puts them in a "mature readers environment", and makes them act like deranged human beings instead of superpowered creatures. Gaiman makes them seem more 'real', more 'human' and very appropriate for an adult orientated book. Especially people who like the Alan Moore part of Saga of the Swamp Thing will have a ball with this, guarantied. A connection you'll easily make for yourself too once you've read both books. It's really good to see Gaiman get back on a person like Jason Woodrue (who is a very small player in here), ... and who would have thought of a connection between Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing (although it seems so logical once you see it). It surely isn't neccesary to have any prior knowledge of Swamp Thing to enjoy this book, it's a fine story on it's own as well. It's just once you've read the Alan Moore parts of Swamp Thing you'll appreciate a lot of things in here a lot more. It's not for you if you're looking for superhero action. If you're looking for a well-told supernatural story about human psyches, it sure is.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated, strong story., February 6, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
BLACK ORCHID is one of Neil Gaiman's early forays into
comics for DC Comics. It his revamp of a little-known
superheroine who is a hybrid of human and orchid, with the
ability to control minds with the use of scent.

As befitting to a story that utilizes a lot of flora and
fauna as metaphors, the fully-painted artwork is lush and
colorful...you almost want to reach out and touch the leaves
of a tree or smell the flowers.

Look for cameos from well-known DC characters such as Lex
Luthor, Batman, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, and others.

My only complaint about the story is a rather abrupt and
somewhat unfinished ending. I'm guessing this is because
DC intended it to be the launch of the ongoing BLACK ORCHID
comic book series, which lasted for 24 issues and never
reached the heights of this story, originally a 3-part
miniseries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Down. . ., March 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
One thing is Certain. . .
This was one of Dave Mckean's most beautifully illustrated works for DC. Very similar to his work on the Arkham Asylum Graphic Novel. Yes...Gaiman's writing was top notch too. And I loved the way he brought in cameo appearences of other DC characters. You don't have to be familiar with the DC universe to read this though. The story is strange and wonderful.
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Black Orchid Deluxe Edition
Black Orchid Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover - May 1, 2012)
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