Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Review; The Rainbow Orchid 2

When I talk about The Rainbow Orchid to people, I describe it as being in a similar vein to Herge’s Tintin. The books are a similar format, large and square-shaped. The comic pages follow the four tier method while the story itself is an all-ages adventure set between the two World Wars. One of my problems with my own description is that it seems obvious. Another is I feel my familiarity with Tintin is lacking. I’ve only read one or two volumes, and I can barely remember those because I was a child at the time. The fact is, it may be nothing like Tintin at all; I’m not really in a position to say either way. What I can tell you is that The Rainbow Orchid is an extraordinary example of the craft of comics. Everything Garen Ewing draws looks amazing from beautiful buildings, to classic cars, intricate objects and vital people, while his story telling is utterly assured.

Volume One of The Rainbow Orchid sets the premise up, albeit in an entertaining way. The large cast of distinctive characters are introduced and their motives made clear, or at least alluded to in a compelling manner. The story sets Julius Chancer, a handsome historical research assistant, leading an exhibition in search of the mythological Rainbow Orchid. The father of Lily Lawrence, famous Hollywood actress and part of the exhibition, has made a drunken bet with Urkaz Grope. If he doesn’t beat him in The Orchid Competition then The Trembling Sword of Tybalt Stone along with the family estate will become his. But Grope is a powerful man eager to own The Rainbow Orchid for himself, or to at least sabotage Chancer’s search for it.

While Volume One did the groundwork for the story, Volume Two makes it all the more compelling. Now Chancer’s group are searching for the orchid while Grope’s men are seeking to derail their mission. By now, the characters feel fully fleshed out, the narrative involving and the bad guys convincingly nasty. There is a real sense of peril in this volume thanks to Garen’s knack for choreographing scenes and his story telling skills. In this age of the spectacular and preposterous action sequence, it’s refreshing and more involving to see fallible characters rolling on the ground with each other over a pistol. In fact, I was so involved in the story that a couple of times I had to stop myself shouting at the page “don’t trust him!” or “behind you!”

As somebody who loves comics I often find myself looking for good examples of an ‘in’ for people curious about what the art form has to offer but put off by the hundreds of ugly superhero titles they see in their local shop. The Rainbow Orchid is exactly that; an all-ages, all-people adventure classic happening right now before our very eyes. Get onboard immediately before everybody else is talking about it.

The stats! The Rainbow Orchid Volume Two retails for £6.99. Of course, having an eye for a good deal, I bought my copy directly from the
artist at the Thought Bubble Comic Con in Leeds recently for just £5. Since then, I’ve learned that Amazon are selling it for just £3.85 but, do you know what, I don’t regret a thing.

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