Orc Island #1-4 Review: A Gonzo Adventure Delight
Orc Island is a delight. It follows a fairly classic adventure formula: a street urchin or sell-sword signs up for adventure with the promise of riches and gets more than they bargained for.
Orc Island is a four-issue miniseries by Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, and Matt Hollingsworth. Bad Idea published the series, which means it's only available in single issues and must contend with the publisher's contentious PR.
Depending on your kindness to Bad Idea, contentious can be replaced with effective or exasperating. Or "probably illegal," depending on how serious they were about selling "jobs" at the company. The Cincinnati Kid could get himself into a lot of trouble with that last scheme.
Regardless, Orc Island is a delight. It follows a fairly classic adventure formula: a street urchin or sell-sword signs up for adventure with the promise of riches and gets more than they bargained for. Dysart & Co. invests the same kind of care for characters and society that made Goodnight Paradise a highlight of Orc Island.
Without going too deep into the plot, it's a pleasure to read an adventure story where the characters cannot outrun the consequences of their decisions. Those consequences can be brutal and grisly, which Ponticelli draws with gusto. (There's a crucifixion sequence that's particularly memorable.) Orc Island is large on spectacle, and it's to the penciller's credit that my eyes regularly widened during the course of the four issues.
Hollingsworth's colors are vivid and wild (the yellows and purples are a highlight) and complement the action well. The second feature in each issue range in effect from charming to surprising. Bad Idea enlists Mike Carey and Kano for a short about Noah's Ark and David Lapham draws the life of a tree used for comics paper.
In summary, Orc Island is one of last year's best prestige miniseries. While it's a competitive landscape (Wonder Woman: Historia and Catwoman: Lonely City leap to mind), Orc Island deserves to be in the conversation. Whether it's the best is a matter of taste, which, famously, there's no accounting for.