Black Orchid

Black Orchid

by Neil Gaiman

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.

Read the Book "Black Orchid" Online

Creative Team: Writer: Neil Gaiman Illustrator: Dave McKean Letterer: Todd Klein SEEDS OF CREATION In the same (very much) sense that Alan Moore (close friend of Neil Gaiman) re-invented The Swamp Thing character when he took the comic book, in this miniseries, Neil Gaiman re-invented Black Orchid, while he had more latitude to work since Black Orchid, while existing since 1973, it was known very little about the character, and it was until 1988 that Gaiman got the chance to tell the origin of the obscure comic book character.

Neil Gaiman, the guy who writes comics for real smart people (myself not included) tries to re-invent the titled D-list superhero, and bring her kicking and screaming into the modern world of comics. Since Neil Gaiman doesnt write comics for shallow people like you, does this mean theres some sort of underlying message here as well, Jeff? Her replacement doesnt quite have it all together as she wanders around the DC world looking for answers. Youll have to read this to find out.

I prefer to be told or shown what the author is trying to convey, and quite often I think Gaiman likes to leave things to the reader's imagination a bit too much for my taste. It starts with the death of the 'original' Black Orchid, a crime-fighter who had been undercover in one of Lex Luthor's companies, and was subsequently killed by his right hand man. (view spoiler)Turns out, she's a genetic hybrid of a woman that Philip Sylvain (a botanist) had loved since childhood.

Gaiman touches on the original Black Orchid before moving onto his own creation.

I've never read a comic by Neil Gaiman before but I wanted to. And Dave McKean, who's the illustrator, has done a marvellous job with several of Gaiman's novels so when I saw the cover of Black Orchid I knew I had to have it. Susan / Black Orchid seems to have been fighting crime until her untimely death. Apart from that, and this impressed me a lot, "mundane" topics such as domestic violence were also addressed and incorporated seamlessly into a superhero story.

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. (as an aside, Watchmen was supposed to be such a recreation of old heroes, but was dubbed too different from the original; of course, that decision is questionable as Watchmen is the most well-respected comic there has ever been) From the very beginning of the three chapter series, Gaiman powerfully informs the reader of his intent to leave behind tradition and embark on a psychological exploration of the limits of the genre. Gaiman also does proud the old comic fan with a score of intertwined heroes and villains of the past, though a reader without the foreknowledge may have to take his word a bit too often.

Neil Gaiman shows off his talent for original and profound story telling, and Dave McKean brings it to life with the most insanely beautiful art. There are also several cameo appearances by other well known and loved superheroes and villains, something I was quite surprised by (but that's probably because I'm so new to this whole graphic novel thing).

Though to be honest, the art is so gorgeous I'd probably read it even if the story was crap.

This may not be a major story, for true DC fans, but when you have Gaiman as storyteller, and Dave McKean as artist, amazing things can happen, and it is a pretty beautiful thing to behold, in my opinion.