Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gaiman and McKean’s Black Orchid: The Deluxe Edition

How does the cyclical death and rebirth of nature’s plants blended with a brutally murdered young woman transform the spirit that becomes a Black Orchid?

The power team of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean forged a legend in The Sandman series, and both Gaiman’s writing and McKean’s cover art unleashed never-before-seen dreamscapes and a tale for the ages.

Prior to The Sandman work, Gaiman and McKean reinvented the obscure DC Comics super heroine Black Orchid in 1988 for a three-part miniseries that is amazing in both its innovation and deep perspective.

Let’s look at the writing first:

The mythology and intriguing character growth follow the Black Orchid super heroine after her cover is blown in Lexcorp and the plant/woman hybrid is murdered. Leave it to Mr. Gaiman, the storytelling master, to kill off his super hero at the very start of the story and rewrite the rules in such a fun and mysterious way.

As the Black Orchid rises from a greenhouse, readers are left to guess, along with the character, as to exactly what or who she is. Orchid lives, but with only a smattering of memories from her former human self, Susan Linden, and Lex Luthor is hell-bent on harnessing the power of the enduring plant women.

What follows is a suspenseful and dreamlike sequence complete with graphic and benign villainy, awesome DC cameos from the Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, and Swamp Thing, and a look into nature and soul, as well as the death and rebirth of plant life.

The art by Dave McKean is awe-inspiring in its vivid and poignant offerings. Each panel and every page come at the reader from a different angle, a unique perspective, and an amazing surreality.

Nowhere will anyone find such a vision and tale as Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean enact in Black Orchid.

The Deluxe Edition has just come out in a gorgeous hardcover that properly encompasses the books with large glossy pages, bright and brilliant colors and clarity, and bonus items. Found within its depths are dedications, letters, and drawings by Gaiman and McKean that help to reveal the inspirational process of making this work of art.

IMPULSIVE Review Grade: A+

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