A Walk on the Wyrd Side: Black Orchid #15: Long Lost Longbox

By Last Updated: February 2, 2015Views: 2466

Welcome back to the Long Lost Longbox everyone. Today we begin a five week look at Black Orchid. Also the LLL will be posting on Mondays now because why not?

So here we are starting a new title and a new character. I’m actually very excited about this because I’ve never read any Black Orchid and have always meant to. I will admit that I don’t know much about this run and am coming in cold on the storyline and really the character herself. The only thing I really know at this point is that the modern version of the character was created by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean. And really that’s all you truly need to know to stir up some interest.

I should point out that the next 5 weeks will test the premise of this segment quite a bit. The idea of course is that I’m reading comics pulled from a “lost” longbox and giving my thoughts on them as I go. Well, the Black Orchid issues in the box are not a complete run. It starts with 15 skips to 17 and 18 then to 21 and 22. So there will be gaps in the story. I’m torn between researching the storyline and attempting to fill in the gaps or just reading them as is and let confusion rein. This whole thing is an experiment anyway so let’s just see how it goes shall we? This brings us to…

Cover Dated: Nov. 1, 1994
Dick Foreman: writer
Rebbecca Guay: pencils
Stan Woch: inks
Digital Chameleon: colors
Clem Robins: letters
Dave McKean: cover
Lou Stathis: editor

A Walk on the Wyrd Side: Black Orchid #15

Previously on the LLL: There is no previously because we’re starting a new title. Probably should have left this bit out. Oh, well.

On the Outside

The cover is by Dave McKean. When I think about Vertigo from this time I picture McKean’s art. I suppose I’m predisposed to like it and not be very critical and this is no exception. A fiery bust sits atop the interior of gothic architecture. A darkened face in profile seems to be intruding on the head, almost a shadow or perhaps a figure peaking in from another dimension. It is dark and haunting and beautiful.

On The Inside

In Chattanooga a man named Nicholas tells a woman made of wood that the Orchid is in New York. The wood woman, called Tanawah, feels it is her destiny to go there so she sets off for the city.

Meanwhile in New York a bearded man is staring at an ancient caldron in a museum. He acquainted with its “wyrd” magic and knows he needs to bury it or bad things will happen.

Immediately upon arriving in NY Tanawah is attacked by a Kobold, a demon-like creature with a mane of fire, who steals her “delicate senses.” Weakened Tanawah stumbles upon the bearded man who happens to know magic and has a magic rune stick. He tells her about the three Kobolds who have been in New York since long before it was New York and have been feeding on the “sickness” of the city. The caldron, if buried, can banish the Kobolds.

As they set off to retrieve the caldron from the museum a second Kobold, this time in the form of a giant tank monster, attacks Tanawah and steals her “ineffable strengths” in front of a large crowd of onlookers who believe the whole thing is performance art. And before they can move on the third Kobold attacks, looking like a cloaked man in a top hat spewing money, who steals her “indomitable will.” The two set off to fulfill their mission even though now Tanawah is essentially powerless and confused.

At the museum they find Black Orchid, who is a naked purple woman with really strange hair, mesmerized by the magic of the caldron. Bearded man uses his magic rune stick to bring her back to her senses and the three of them steal the caldron.

In Central Park they are confronted by the Kobolds and Tanawah distracts them long enough for Black Orchid to bury the caldron. The Kobolds are banished but manage to drag Tanawah with them to the underworld.

But they don’t grieve for long because Tanawah is reborn, or to be more accurate regrown, to become the Dryad of New York City and will help to heal the sickness of the people.

Hooray!

Thoughts

Well this was a bit of fun. Much like when I read Animal Man for the first time I didn’t get much information of the titular character although there was enough to get started on. There was a whole lot of world building, or maybe I should say the world introduction, and I got a good handle on the type of thing I will be reading.

It’s a place of magic and ancient prophecies with all forms of magical beings. Black Orchid being one of those magic beings. To be honest I wasn’t really expecting that. I expected her to a more straight-up super hero type and not a goddess entity. But 90s Vertigo, everything had to be along those lines I guess. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

There were some nice bits of humor which I appreciate, especially in a 90s comic. The part where the crowd misinterprets a demon attack as performance art was a funny gag and the fact that they throw money at them which allows them to get a cab to the museum was a nice way to move the plot.

Overall, maybe a bit rushed. Things seem to happen quickly and conveniently but no so much I thought it took away from the story.

As a standalone issue it had a definite beginning and ending and was not so continuity laden that you were confused as to who the characters were and what was happening. Yes, I’m happy with this comic.

Next time on an all new episode of Long Lost Longbox: Black Orchid #17, what wyrdness awaits?



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