Black Orchid
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Black Orchid (Black Orchid Prestige)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  6,477 ratings  ·  229 reviews
By the acclaimed writer of THE SANDMAN LIBRARY. Consider the orchid: exotic, intoxicating and rare. Consider Black Orchid: a demigoddess in search of her own identity. The flowerlike result of a scientific experiment, the Black Orchid must reconcile her human memories with her botanical origins. Graphic novel format. Mature readers.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by DC Comics (first published February 1988)
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Community Reviews

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This book is beautiful. I mean, you say that sometimes, it's a word that we fling around and use when we can't think of anything else to say. But this book is beautiful.

The art is stunning and makes you feel as though you're in a dream. And the story... it's certainly no ordinary superhero tale. It is, and I feel safe saying this, entirely its own thing. Neil Gaiman shows off his talent for original and profound story telling, and Dave McKean brings it to life with the most insanely beautiful ar...more
It's hard for me to review comic books and graphic novels because I don't know all the lingo even though I've been reading both on and off for years (Thor comics specifically since at least by my preteen years). My boyfriend knows the shit out of comic books and puts everyone to shame - he knows the lingo, he knows the people, he's collaborated himself with others and done some of his own solo work. He's in the know. I, on the other hand, can converse as far as "This was pretty" and "That was ba...more
An important example of the re-creation and reimagining of comics by British authors during the mid eighties, Black Orchid combines Gaiman's mythology with McKean's powerful artistic visions in the series which made their careers.

Like Moore's 'Swamp Thing' or Morrison's 'Animal Man', Gaiman was given the opportunity to place his stamp on a pre-existing hero; and like the others, by betraying cliche and embracing a suitably mystic sense of realism, succeeds admirably. (as an aside, Watchmen was s...more
Sep 25, 2007 Melle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: DC Comics fans
Shelves: graphic-novel
I am trying to appreciate graphic novels, but I don't think my visual artistic intelligence works well in combination with my literary intelligence. For one thing, my visual artistic intelligence is severely limited.

I liked the concept of the Black Orchid, like Poison Ivy, one of the familiar DC Comics characters that appeared (as did Batman, Harvey Dent, the Mad Hatter, etc.). However, I think the story was on a deeper level (or trying to be), that I could not appreciate. (How did it all of a s...more
Arielle Walker
Hands down the most beautiful comic/graphic book I have ever read. The artwork is stunning, and the story is complimentary to it. There are a few familiar characters (Poison Ivy, Swamp Thing, Lex Luthor, Batman etc) but it's is Black Orchid who makes it really worth reading. Though to be honest, the art is so gorgeous I'd probably read it even if the story was crap. Luckily, the story and writing is equal to its illustrations. I'm pretty sure I'm just repeating myself but there isn't really a lo...more
It's kind of adorable to read this because I didn't think it was that great. If I'd started out with this book instead of Sandman, I would've taken some convincing to continue with Gaiman's oeuvre. It's not that I didn't like the story; in fact, I really like how he weaves Batman & Lex Luthor & Swamp Thing & all of that together. It was just a little too vague, a little too much moping by Black Orchid. Too much f-a-all-ll-ing - seriously, once would've been enough for that page layou...more
Here's a little anecdote to indicate just how marginal a character Black Orchid was (and remains): when Neil Gaiman was first getting involved with DC, they offered him characters from their stable for him to resurrect (as was popular at the time). Gaiman already had an idea, but when British he told American DC editors, they misheard his accent and thought he said 'Blackhawk Kid.' The misunderstanding was sorted, and the relevant book was produced, but it's important to note that not only did t...more
Gaiman and McKean make a wonderful team, and never has that come through as clearly as in this book. There is a poetic style to both the writing and the visuals, in which transitions and metaphor play a heavy part. It's one of the most beautifully illustrated comic books I've ever seen, and the dialogue is touching and believable. The plot is so thoroughly unexpected, too, and it's a great ride. I took a little more time reading this comic than I normally take, because I wanted to pore over ever...more
Dave Maddock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was drawn to this after looking through the TPBs at a local comic book shop. It’s absolutely gorgeous. My experience with Dave McKean before has just been the covers for Sandman, which are pretty different. My attraction to his art was 95% of the reason I read this.

The first issue was intriguing. There are these plant women that are kind of superhero-y. Some dude made them. They are kind of the same woman but not.

The driving force of the second and third issues was the “who am I” syndrome and...more
I'm thinking this would have gone down a lot better when it was a current publication. That's not to say it's without merits. It's very nice artwork by McKean, and the writing by Neil Gaiman is interesting, but as with many late 80s graphic novels, it doesn't feel like it has aged well. Not to say it's bad, because it's not, it just didn't do a heck of a lot for me. I enjoyed Alan Moore's Swamp Thing more. That being said, it was cool to see the inclusion of some DC folk, such as Batman, Arkham,...more
Jean-Pierre Vidrine
A classic obscure DC character gets a Vertigo revamp. Of course, this was a bit before DC had come up with the Vertigo imprint, but there were a few titles already off in their own dark little corner from the rest of the DCU proper.
Here, the Black Orchid, a crime fighter so mysterious that readers had heretofore never learned her true origin, identity, nor the full extent of her powers, is completely changed into an entirely different kind of comic book character.
At the start, it feels much li...more
One of the few Gaiman/McKean works that I haven't read; I was eager to read this graphic novel. It was a pretty good read. It is an unusual comic book and deals with some more serious issues than the basic good vs. evil.

This comic takes place in Gotham City and in the first few scenes we get to watch as the super-hero Black Orchid is captured and killed. The rest of the story follows her flower sisters as they deal with the fall-out from Black Orchid's action and try to find a place for themselv...more
David Schaafsma
I was prepared not to like this, as I happened to see a reviewer I immensely respect, Sam Quixote, give it two stars (though I also know he dislikes Gaiman, and Gaiman's mentor Alan Moore, though does seem to like another superstar compadre of sorts, Grant Morrison). I see this book, which I had never read, as part of the whole rethinking comics project I associate with Moore in Watchmen, Millers' Dark Knight, and part of this opportunity many took to rethink earlier comic heroes like Moore with...more
Tre volte capolavoro.
Il terzo lavoro della premiata coppia Gaiman-McKean.
Il capolavoro che ha inaugurato la stagione DC di Gaiman e l'apertura della collana Vertigo.
Ma soprattutto, il capolavoro che portò Gaiman a lavorare a Sandman.

A parte tutto questo, prendendolo anche singolarmente e ignorando tutto, Black Orchid è davvero un gioiellino. Gaiman riesce a inserirsi a modo suo nel mondo dei supereroi DC: siamo in una Gotham City ancora più nera, per la strada s'intravede Lex Luthor, Batman, Jok...more
It took me a while to warm up to the story. The trouble I have with a lot of comic arcs is where to begin- there's SO much backstory and revamps and canon-pasting and such that happens over those decade-long SuperBatGreenSilverSwampSpiderWonderManWomanBoyGirlLanternSurferThing etc stories. I like having context. I avoided watching the new Doctor Who for a long time because I wanted to start at the beginning, and the Doctor Who span rivals some Marvel-DC standbys.

So, Black Orchid, with its tie-i...more
Neil Gaiman + Dave Mckean = A great collaborative team.
This may very well be the first american collaboration of these two gentlemen.
Gaiman takes an obscure and pretty much all but forgotten character and brings her back to life.
I loved the way he intertwined the story by including most plant-based characters of the DCU/Vertigo Universe. Also linking them as students and professors in the past was a very nice touch.
McKean's art is simply amazing, though I read later that he didn't really want to...more
The artwork without a doubt is stunning. The story was interesting but to be honest, I didn't quite get it. I would have been completely lost except for the introduction. It was a interesting surprise to see Batman, Lex Luthor, Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing make an appearance.
31 July 2013

Black Orchid is a beautifully surreal reading experience. It's escapism at its best. Through its strange, yet breathtaking, art and with its lyrical prose, it gives you a sense of gliding through dreams full of vibrant colors and mysteries. The perfect pairing of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean is always magical.

Neil Gaiman cleverly ties in scene to scene, so that the story flows effortlessly. Like a cherry on top, it was a special treat seeing him masterfully weave in familiar faces fro...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maybe my expectations were a little high, since this are Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean - but I was a little disappointed. Everything is very artsy and beautiful and the dialogue flows, as always in Gaiman's writing, but the story felt very incomplete to me, and the characters were not as well rounded as I've come to expect in Gaiman's work. Compared to how much work it was to get through Black Orchid - I haven't struggled as much with a graphic novel since From Hell - I found it surprisingly littl...more
Rain Misoa
Dec 26, 2013 Rain Misoa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Comic fans and people who like pretty art!
Recommended to Rain by: Library
To be perfectly honest, I couldn't finish this book. I tried but it just couldn't hold my interest. The art is beautiful and the message Gaiman is trying to get across to all comic fans is wonderful. However, I feel as if the tone is too dry for my liking so I am going to have to give this one a pass for now. Perhaps one day I will come back to it. Until then, I think you should read this and give it a go for yourself. You may end up liking it.
Ryan Rebel
I just encountered a best authors tournament in which the final contenders were Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. This match-up gave me pause as I turned the choice over in my head. Both are stupendous popular authors whom I admire greatly, and have shaped the formative years of my life. How to pick between them?

I picked Gaiman for two reasons.

1. The Sandman is my favorite story that I have ever read.
2. Gaiman is more consistent than King.

King's early work crackles with invention and innovation. I l...more
Ted Child
One of Gaiman’s apprenticeship works in which his dialog and narration are sometimes close to being melodramatic. I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting a superhero book but it was lovely to have Gaiman’s deft hands work Batman, Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy. Gaiman is a natural storyteller but an added bonus is the feminist theme. I was pleasantly surprised and I wish Gaiman would do some more mainstream superhero stuff since I always enjoy it when he does.
After being viciously murdered, a girl was reborn as the Black Orchid, a hybrid of plant and human, in order to avenge her own death. What a very interesting concept. Somehow it reminds me of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, which I'm crazy about. Absurd yet gorgeous. Only I'm not really a big fan of what the story flew into. Fortunately, McKean's mesmerizing's drawing and the guess characters such as Swamp Thing, Batman, or Poison Ivy were definitely a magnet.
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
No doubt that the art is stunning and makes you feel as though you're in a dream, but the story to me was a let down. I didn't enjoy that much. Nevertheless it was good to see a comic superhero turned into a psycological adventure instead of the usual action. Quite good. It was nice to see Lex Luthor. In the end it was not my favourite comic book, and I was at a loss with the second of three chapters, and I was a bit dissapointed.
Kenna Day
Just finished. Absurdly beautiful. I love the way Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean work together through storytelling and visual elements to take the Superhero Universe of narrative and then transform them into something transcendent of style and tropes. Also, anything that brings in Swamp Thing and Batman makes me very happy.
Jenny Lynn
I liked how different the story was, how it subverted normal superhero-story expectations, especially with the ending. It was interesting and inventive and full of pretty and interesting pictures (Dave McKean, bravo as always). Would I have liked more after that ending, more stories featuring the Black Orchid and Suzy? Sure. But did I like where Gaiman let the story end? Yes. It was different and interesting and hopeful and mostly happy, which is unusual for a story with such a violent beginning...more
Whew, Neil Gaiman, you should have kept writing graphic novels. And paired with the utterly, utterly sublime art of Dave McKean, really, nothing can go wrong. He's the Ginger Rogers to your Fred Astaire. Anyway. The story is a little dated now, but not enough to make me care, and it's just lovely. Neil does cryptic half-utterances very well - see Sandman, and I always felt he was much better at this, and placement of key text, than a full length book. He has gotten better at that too, over time...more
Published in 1988, Black Orchid holds up as an atypical superhero story, in no small part because the protagonist dies early on. Her presence continues, though, and so she pursues answers about and solutions to her death and new life, all of which make up the better aspects of this graphic novel. Clearly at an earlier stage of his career, Neil Gaiman displays the traits that bloom in full throughout his later work. The story and art both come off as dated in some ways (hairstyles, references, fe...more
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Comic books/Graph...: July: Black Orchid 2 4 Aug 01, 2013 10:37AM  
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