26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A Solid Story From the Protean Days of Gaiman/McKean,
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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.