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‘Orphan and the Five Beasts’ TPB (review)

Written and Illustrated by James Stokoe
Published by Dark Horse Comics


Orphan and the Five Beasts overflows with style.

Flip through and gaze at the art and you can’t help but be impressed.

At first glance, it all feels very grand and epic.

Yet, once you sit with it and try to engage or get more out of it, it’s oddly lacking.

It has a love for Martial Arts Cinema but lacks any heart or guts, but that is not due to a lack of effort.

Orphan’s master senses a disruption in the force, I mean a corruption in the valley. There are five individuals, five people who needed his teachings. Now they are using what was taught for malevolent purposes. Orphan is sent to battle these forces.

His first battle has Orphan Mo facing Thunder Thighs, who looks exactly as you would picture someone with the name Thunder Thighs. The battle, like most of the story, is drawn in an exaggerated but detailed manner. This detail adds to the dark humor, but quickly becomes tiresome.

This book has just one tone, and it becomes wearying.

Soon Orphan Mo gains a following, which leads him to the next battle.

Chopper Teng was someone who the Master saw a lot of promise but was eventually done in by his hunger. This next part of the story really dives in to cannibalism humor, which is as funny as it sounds.

James Stokoe’s art is technically beautiful to look at.

A lot of work clearly work into this book. The art is detailed, the coloring is masterful. Every violent act is a sight to behold. Eyes pop out, villains are disemboweled.  It is impressive in that regard.

But the story can’t escape how much is borrowed, then stretched to fit an unfunny, ultra-violent story.

Orphan as a character just appears as a blank slate. Everyone else is cartoonish to the point that the jokes don’t land.  It’s the Tarantino method of storytelling, using other genres to tell your own story.

Like most who use this method, it ultimately falls short.


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