Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Black Orchid

Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Jan 09, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010-goal-list, cuy-co-pub-lib, finished

Neil Gaiman, Black Orchid (Vertigo, 1991)

As much a fan of Neil Gaiman as I am, some of his stuff just leaves me cold. Neverwhere is like that (while it's been quite a few years, I seem to recall saying in my review it wasn't anything I hadn't seen before done better), and some of the stories in Fragile Things seemed a bit anemic, though overall it's a strong collection. And then there is Black Orchid, which like the more recent Eternals is a Gaiman attempt at rebooting, or reimagining, an old comic character. Mikal Gilmore, in his introduction, heralds it as the beginning of a new era in comics. While I can kind of see where he's coming from, it reminds me of the old adage that first is not always best.

Black Orchid, a minor character from the DC universe, gets her own three-book series (collected in this volume). After the violent opening scenes, she takes stock of her existence and goes on a quest to discover her roots, along the way incurring the interest of a number of familiar characters (most notably Lex Luthor and Swamp Thing).

On the “strong” side is Dave McKean's art, which is always excellent whether he's collaborating with Gaiman or working on his own material (Cages made my ten-best-reads-of-the-year list back in the day). On the “weak” side is, well, everything else. Gaiman's story feels aimless more than anything else, with side trips that seem to exist for the sole purpose of roping other characters back into this story. For the Gaiman completist, at best; he was already doing far better work with Sandman at this time, and as far as reboots go, Eternals is a much better book than this. Still, it's worth it for McKean's always-stellar artwork. ***

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