Martin John reviews Orc Stain #6!
Credits & Solicit Info:
The story of Orc Stain continues, as the agents of the great Orc Tzar finally catch up to One-Eye. Thousands of other one eyed orcs have been gathered to an arena by the mysterious Beard, who is hellbent on finding which of them is the key to unlocking the god organ.
I think the acid rain of Vancouver is starting to melt James Stokoe's brain. All you have to do is take a look at Orc Stain to know why: it is a psychedelic explosion of color and insane ideas splattered on the page with such amazing energy that it might just cause your brain and eyes to wave a flag of surrender, grow legs and run.
The story is a sweet little escape yarn with the main character One-Eye attempting to break out of the belly of a sedated monster/mountain while trying to not be killed by Pointy Face, an Orc with a blood debt to pay. Outside, a mysterious villain known as Beard matches wits with the sexy poison thrower Bowie while a riot rages around them. If it sounds like a lot going on, there is, but the story is never cluttered and the narrative is easy to jump right into. For those just joining the program there is a nice little recap page, but there are probably things that you may not understand ("gronch" being one of them) and that may leave a bitter taste in your mouth. I recommend eating something sweet and enjoying yourself, you'll catch on soon enough.
For those not in the know, Stokoe does this whole book by himself: art, color, lettering, and writing. Not many people can, or want, to create an entire book, or can do it well. Stokoe blends all of the art elements together so seamlessly that it makes reading this book a truly integrative experience. The cover of issue six looks kinda strange, as though Stokoe was trying on a new style of digital painting; but still looks interesting enough, just not quite as polished as what's between the covers. James' palette choice for coloring the book consists of cherry reds mixed with coral, bone, moss green, lavender and granite. It makes for some of the most unique pages I have seen since DK2, but this color experiment is well-honed and eye-poppingly beautiful. Stokoe's art and creature designs are as inventive as Guy Davis' work on BPRD. He continues to create a world that breathes and pulses with grime, pus, and foreign beauty, and this is part of the reason I will continue to come back to this title, to see where and what he introduces to us next.
As an extra incentive, be forewarned of the two-page splash that hints at One-Eye's past, it will leave you overexcited and searching for your Valium. For those of you whom enjoy Frank Quitely's take on sound effects in Batman and Robin, or Dave Sim's lettering on Cerebus, I think you will find that Stokoe's incorporates his lettering just as beautifully into the art.
For those of you just new to Orc Stain, pick this book up. While you're at it pick up the first GN as well. For those of you that have already entered the world of James Stokoe, try and tear yourself away. I dare you.
Review by: Martin John