Comic Review: Orc Stain #1


Orc Stain is a new ongoing Image Comics series, which is created, written, drawn, and coloured by James Stokoe.

Orc Stain #1 was released on January 6th (two weeks ago at time of review), so this review is a little late in the day. However, I only just managed to get my hands on a copy of the comic, and was so thoroughly impressed with it, that I had to share this gem with the world!

The Story

The comic opens with a brief summary that familiarizes readers with the world that the story is set in. We learn of a fantasy world that is overrun with savage, ruthless orcs. Though while orcs fill the globe, they exist only in fractured groups, and no orc empire has ever stood the test of time. However, in the southernmost jungles, a powerful new chieftain has arisen, who is dubbed ‘The Orctzar’. He has done what no-one thought possible, and has united the masses in the homeland, and has unleashed them on the world. Now the Orctzar’s armies pour out over the world, and all the old races are pledging their allegiance to him.

When the comic proper opens, we are greeted by a double page splash of a massive orc battle in the deep south. It’s a scene of absolute carnage, with bloodshed, explosions, and fire raining from the sky. Walking through this chaos, apparently unaware, is the Orctzar. He has come to these lands to find a Seer, in order to divine his future. The Seer tells him that in order to conquer the lands to the north, he must find a key, a one-eyed orc who will unlock his god-organ. Unhappy with this answer, the Orctzar rips the Seer’s head of, and proclaims that his men will ride north!

The story then shifts to a scene in the countryside, where a one-eyed orc and his friend are attempting to crack a strange safe that seems to be lodged in the belly of some sort of beast. The one-eyed orc is purported to be a master thief with the ability to find the weak spot in any structure. He and his friend are are wandering the countryside, trying to find something good to loot, in order to pay off their debts to the local boss, ‘The Norman’. They have few concerns beyond saving their own hides, but little does one-eye know that the fates have grand plans in store for him.

The Rating

The first thing that jumps out about this comic is the stunning visuals. James Stokoe has an amazing art style that is incredibly unique and instantly appealing. I defy anyone to pick up this comic, look at the very first double page splash, and not think “I must read this comic!”.  Stokoe’s artwork is intricately detailed, insanely inventive, and above all else it just has tons of character!

For this story Stokoe has invented a whole new world, full of interesting characters and bizarre creations. For example, One-eye has to crack into a safe that is held in the belly of a strange creature called a gurpa. The gurpa is alarmed, so O ne-eye has to climb on top of the creatures head, where he finds bird sitting. In order to deactivate the alarm, he smacks the bird with a hammer and picks it up, but the bird is attached to the gurpa’s with a strange entrail, which he them rips out of the gurpa’s head until a small screaming organ comes out of the creature, which he then destroys with his hammer. The safe then opens, but because there is a crack in the safe wall, all of the gurpa’s guts pour into the safe and liquidize its contents. It’s such a weird and twisted little scene, and so thoroughly inventive! There’s tons more crazy stuff like that in here, and it seems James Stokoe’s imagination knows no bounds.

In terms of plot, it’s mostly introductory stuff in this first issue, with lots of set-up for things to come. Stokoe does a good job of introducing the reader to the major players in the story, The Orctzar and One-eye; and via the seer, sets up how these two shall come to meet. The concept of the story seems pretty simple of the surface, but there’s probably much more to it  that hasn’t yet been revealed. In any case, it’s an incredibly fun story, packed full of interesting characters, and tons of weirdness that is bound to make you scratch your head and wonder what sorts of drugs this guy is taking!

Orc Stain #1 is amazing debut issue, and is highly recommended for all fantasy fans. James Stokoe has created a wonderfully bizarre new world for this story, which he has brought to life with his amazing artwork. Make sure you grab a copy of this first issue now, and don’t miss out!

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