Saturday, March 17, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Orc Stain vol. 1 with added bonus! Issues 6 and 7!

I'm here today to tell you about the wonders of Orc Stain, an amazing comic created, written, penciled, inked, colored, and lettered by James Stokoe. (What? He can't make the paper it's printed on too? C'mon!) Not only does the man do it all, but he does it all extremely well.  This comic is a triumph of creativity and craftsmanship.

For ages upon ages, the world has been dominated by the orcs.  Savage, cruel, duplicitous, and murderous by nature, no one orc has yet been able to bring the hordes that cover the globe under his thumb.  That's not to say no one has tried.  The most recent of mighty orcs is one calling himself the Orc Tzar. Backed by a mighty host of orc warriors, he leads his mob north in search of an ancient artifact of the gods, the ganga-gronch.

While the Orc Tzar and his minions surge northward, One-Eye, a skilled thief, makes his way in the world by raiding tombs and keeping his gronch out of harms way.  When things go sour with his thieving partner, Pointy-Face, One-Eye finds himself on the wrong end of a poxa-gronka vendetta, and on the run from the Orc Tzar's elite soldiers who are tracking down all one eyed orcs because those who possess only one eye may hold the the key to finding the ganga-gronch.

At this point, you are probably wondering, "what the fuck is a 'gronch'?"  Well, the gronch is a precious commodity in the world of Orc Stain.  A "gronch" is an orc's junk, and is part currency, part trophy.  To lose one's gronch is a very bad thing, but to have collected gronches is a big bonus in this world.  Pretty fucked up I know, but also incredibly hilarious.  Oh, and a "poxa-gronka" is like a vendetta on someone's dick.  No rest until you've taken their gronch.  I'm so glad I'm not an orc.

Maybe a comic about orcs and their wangers sounds immature to you, or maybe it sounds as if it's the funniest thing ever, but before you judge a book by it's gronch, let me just say there is so much more to be had here.  Stokoe has created an incredibly exciting world where pretty much anything goes, and all the rules of civility have been thrown out the window.  Simply by putting orcs at the top of the food chain makes for some fun times, but Stokoe has made himself a pretty amazing fantasy world populated by some wonderfully weird and strange creatures and characters.  There's swamp rambas (witch-like hermits who excel in the arts of poison), sentient hoods (weird furry creatures who attach themselves to another being and form some sort of symbiotic bond), a bevvy of orc varieties, as well as numerous other creatures both big and small.

In addition to an incredible world that is a lot of fun to immerse yourself in, you get page after glorious page of insanely hyper-detailed art that is positively mind-blasting.  Stokoe's art is absolutely fucking nuts.  Don't believe me? Just click on them shits and embiggerate them. Or check out the dude's blog.  Every panel on every page is wonderful.  I can't imagine how labor intensive each page must be, or how long it takes the guy to finish a page, the long gaps between issues seems to indicate things take a loooong time. I'm willing to wait. Stokoe is a freak.

So, great story, great art...are there any negatives?  Well, there is one slight negative related to the first volume...while it does collect the first 5 glorious issues of Orc Stain, it doesn't collect the entirety of the first story arc. It ends with a pretty brutal cliff-hanger too. What the fuck?  I don't know what happened here, but I guess Image decided to not wait for issue 6 before releasing a graphic novel collection.  This is a bit of a let down, and may have defeated lesser men, but not I.  For I also own issues 6 and 7 giving me all the Orc Stains known to man.


I'm happy to report that all the awesomeness I came to love and expect from the first volume can be found in epic abundance in issues six and seven as well.  The sixth issue ties up the first arc, and ends with a pretty big and important reveal.  From there, the seventh issue finds our pal One-Eye with the dangerous swamp ramba Bowie as they journey through a deadly mountain pass populated by what appears to be extremely deadly, (and blind) ninja-bunnies.  Yes, you read that right.

Like I said earlier, I'm not really sure what Stokoe's publication rate is, but I will be doing my best to wait patiently for the eighth issue.  Seeing as I read the entirety of the series so far more or less back to back, that wait could be quite grueling.

Orc Stain is a feat of comic genius, and should be enjoyed by as many people as possible.  I give this bad boy the fullest of Battle Hymns recommendations.  Go forth! Read! Enjoy! Viva la Gronch!

Grade: A+


Bryce L. said...

Wow, that looks awesome. I'm pretty sure I have to read this now.

Ryan said...

You really should track down the graphic novel! It's got the first 5 issues, then you'll have to find a quality comic shop for the other two issues, but it is worth it.

Stuff might be available digitally though.

This is one of the most awesomely wonderful things I've ever read. It is seriously brilliant in oh so many ways.

Bryce L. said...

That's so good to hear. I'll see what I can dig up.