Sunday, August 22, 2010

Orc Stain #1

James Stokoe

Orc Stain is a new action fantasy series being put out by Image Comics, written and illustrated by James Stokoe.  Stokoe effortlessly builds a fantastic world, relaying a history of different lands and races that leads to the new Orktsar, who leads armies of vicious orcs usually given to squabbling amongst themselves, giving them direction and transforming them into a seemingly unstoppable force.  But there is a prophecy of a one-eyed orc who will be necessary to his success, the same safe-cracking, treasure-hunting orc that we get to know over the course of the rest of the issue as he aids another orc in uncovering some much-needed loot.  Stokoe beautifully illustrates this world with fantastic, detailed creatures and landscapes.  It's very odd, and often ugly, but also undeniably beautiful and crafted with ornate detail and care.  It's also bright and colorful and thoughtfully laid-out by Stokoe, who really owns this entire visual extravaganza we're left with in the end.  The battles depicted here are brutal and bloody, the story containing sex and drugs, and it's all laid out without apology, leaving you with little doubt that Stokoe is having a great time with every aspect of the creative process.  The epic imagination Stokoe demonstrates, and his amazing execution, work to make this a thoroughly enjoyable, utterly original read.  I don't want to oversell it, because it is a pretty straight-forward fantasy story, but you've got to be blind not to enjoy the eye-cocaine that fills these pages.

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