REVIEW: ‘Orcs,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Orcs! #1

Orcs #1 is an all-ages fantasy comic created, written, and illustrated by Christine Larsen and published by KaBOOM! Comics, an imprint of BOOM! Studios. 

The comic opens with an Orc traveler on a boat sailing the violent seas. Drod, the adventurer, hears a cry coming from a nearby island and ventures forth into potential danger to attempt to save whoever is in trouble. But this is just a story told to a group of children by an elderly woman, showing the orc community that the story actually revolves around. <- this sentence doesn’t quite make sense. Five orcs set off on a job, leaving their families behind. But as they enter a mysterious forest, they discover danger is around every corner, or at least up every tree.

The plot and tone of the comic are designed around one aspect: fun. Larsen cleverly tricks the reader into thinking the prologue of the comic is the true narrative. The misdirection is not only intelligent but also brilliant world-building as stories are being told within stories. There is a lot of energy within the issue, despite the lack of real action, as there are constant movements and changes. Mysteries are being set up that most of the characters aren’t aware of yet. The enemy fits the tone and target audience of the series fantastically, with the characters themselves acknowledging its silliness. But there does appear to be other forces at play as well.

The orcs themselves are energetic, bubbly characters that are instantly likable. Each has their own voice, or lack thereof, and relationships between them are established quickly. Utzu and Bog, two of the main characters, are always squabbling and sniping at each other, while Utzu’s partner Gruh is mostly silent. 

What is lovely about Orcs #1 is that it explores fantasy elements and archetypes while also bringing it to a level that younger readers can understand. Larsen taps into a movement that appears to be prevalent within the fantasy community at present. 

There has been a concerted effort to remove the notion that orcs as a race are all purely evil. That connotation that a whole race is evil from birth has dark and dangerous implications, so the generalization has begun to change in recent years. Depicting the orcs as the main characters is a fantastic way to tackle this. It is also a fantastic moral in general for children to learn beyond fictional characters. There may be another side to the story for those characters that have always been regarded as evil.

The dialogue contains great exchanges between characters, often manipulating more traditional fantasy lines and adapting them for this story. It often shows the love and affection the orcs have for each other. There are multiple parts designed to draw laughs from the readers, whatever age they might be. The cartoonish language leaves a silly grin on your face from start to finish. But there are also several pieces of slapstick comedy to diversify the humour. The predicament the orcs find themselves in is hilarious and ridiculous.

The art within Orcs #1 is perfect for the genre and tone. The Orcs’ rounded proportions take away from their traditionally scary appearances, which often contain spikes and sharp lines. Each character is unique from body shape to facial structure, meaning that they are easily recognizable. Larsen grants the orcs with large eyes and mouths, etching incredibly emotive reactions to the situations. The fight scenes are fantastic, not too violent but possessing energy and movement.

The colours are muted but skillfully applied. Each member of the main part has a slightly different skin tone that adds to their individuality. When the team is in danger in the comic’s last pages, a red hue is added to the pages. The implementation of this is beautiful, as there are only natural colours visible elsewhere. The sudden change draws eyes to the panel and makes you pay attention.

The letters are big and dynamic, and easy to read—the size of the font changes depending on the characters’ tone. 

Orcs #1 is a delightful and energetic first issue. Larsen takes what are usually the monsters of the story and turns this into a hero’s tale. A wonderful fantasy adventure is told in a way that makes it accessible to younger audiences while an older reader may still delight in the dialogue and mysteries. 

Orcs #1 is available where comics are sold.

Orcs #1
5

TL;DR

Orcs #1 is a delightful and energetic first issue. Larsen takes what are usually the monsters of the story and turns this into a hero’s tale. A wonderful fantasy adventure is told in a way that makes it accessible to younger audiences while an older reader may still delight in the dialogue and mysteries.