The Sting of her Groves: Black Orchid #17: Long Lost Longbox

By Last Updated: February 9, 2015Views: 2229

Welcome back to the Long Lost Longbox. We continue with Black Orchid, albeit with a bit of a gap (as I’m missing issue #16) and start a six-part storyline: A Twisted Season.

So who is Black Orchid? Or maybe I should say what is Black Orchid? Well, as far as the character origin Black Orchid started as Susan Linden-Thorne. Miss Linden-Thorne was a crime fighter and a master of disguise. After her abusive husband killed her (we’re in the 90s people everything has to be extreme or tragic or both) she was revived by a scientist friend into a human/plant hybrid; which is perfectly reasonable. Later Susan is killed again while attempting to infiltrate LexCorp but two plant clones survived and became the new Black Orchids.

The first clone, Flora Black, was a morally gray character often described as a femme fatale, but as I don’t really care for that term I won’t. Flora has pheromone powers of mind control and attempts to take over a major corporation with them but is killed. That is a ridiculously condensed version of a very long story arc, but what you gonna do?

The final Black Orchid is Suzy who was significantly younger than Flora and was raised as her “daughter.” After Flora’s death an adult Suzy takes over the mantle. It is Suzy that we will be dealing with in these issues.

Suzy has had super strength, flight, and can absorb nutrients from the air and can generate seductive pheromones. I don’t think she uses them as mind control to take over corporations but that remains to be seen.

That brings us to…

Cover Dated: Jan. 1, 1995
Dick Foreman: writer
Rebbecca Guay: pencils
Dick Giordano: inks
George Freeman: colors
Clem Robins: letters
Dave McKean: cover
Lou Stathis: editor

A Twisted Season Part I: Black Orchid #17: Long Lost Longbox

Previously on the LLL: Black Orchid helped banish some demons with the help of a red-bearded magician and a woman made of wood.

On the Outside

Another Dave McKean cover that is extremely cool. Again, I will admit to being a McKean fan and as such this little bit of the posts will probably get tedious and boring as I will just say things like ‘awesome’ and ‘beautiful’ repeatedly with the occasional ‘cool’ thrown in for good measure. You can skip this part if you are so inclined.

The cover is streaks of bright yellows and orange tinged with black like a dimming sunset over a clouded mountain range; a sharp, geometric figure floats over a desolate and dying land. Yes, it is cool.

On The Inside

In Africa an old woman goes to a sacred grove to speak to the ancient tree spirit Asase Yaa who tells the old woman that a foolish nymph will soon arrive to bring a vision to her people. When the nymph arrives she should be brought to Asase Yaa for a reckoning. Dum dum duuuummmm!

Meanwhile Black Orchid is traveling the world planting her seeds in secret groves. She considers it her “great work” and hopes to spread a fragrance throughout the world to “heal” it.

In New York Tanawah the dryad is inspecting one of Black Orchid’s groves and finds it sprouting with strange, disturbing and misshapen things. She wonders why Orchid is wanting to spread her ‘race’ upon the earth and why she hasn’t told anyone about it.

In London an author, Martin Relf, is compelled to write about a severed goddess whose children are mistakes and aberrations. He too is concerned with disturbing and misshapen things.

Eventually Black Orchid makes her way to Africa, to the same village from the opening and attempts to spread a vision through her pheromone power. She feels like she is being drained of her power however and does not complete the vision. Instead she feigns weakness and is lead to the sacred grove by the old woman.

In an alternate reality of some sort Suzy meets with the Horae (embodiments of time and nature) who tell her that the time of the nymphs are in decline and they have her think through the eyes of Asase Yaa and see the Black Orchid she once knew as “mother.”

The Black Orchid in Africa confronts Asase Yaa. Asase Yaa gives an ultimatum to Black Orchid to save herself by relinquishing her groves. Black Orchid refuses. The two fight and it seems Asase Yaa has the upper hand but Black Orchid surges with anger and tears Asase Yaa apart saying she is too old and Black Orchid is the new.

In the alternate space the Suzy Black Orchid is told that the other has spurned her chance at redemption and will succumb to the frost, the icy grip of death.

Thoughts

Okay, so obviously there was some information I missed by not having the last issue. The Suzy version of Black Orchid is different from the Black Orchid planting groves and tearing apart tree goddesses. Are they the same version split apart into good and evil parts like Kirk in a terrible transporter accident? Or is the other Black Orchid Flora back from the dead? Honestly I don’t know. And it’s kinda fun not knowing.

There is just enough here to keep me interested and guessing. Yes, it is a bit frustrating having to guess at certain things but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the issue. The world of Black Orchid is rich and there is plenty going on to keep things moving. There are plot seeds being planted (excuse the metaphor) and hopefully it will pan out in future issues.

I will admit that I was rather hoping that this series would be more standard superhero fare with a bit of Vertigo maturity; alas we are in full spirit world and goddess mode. I’m not saying this is a bad thing mind you I just had my expectations pointed in a different direction. I may have had my fill of dark, gritty reinterpretations from the Animal Man run, although this is by far better written and executed than that.

As a standalone issue it was well written and well-drawn. There were some plot elements that were missing and obviously if you had been reading this from the beginning of the run it would have made more sense but not anything that would keep you out of the story completely.

I continue to enjoy this comic.

Next time on an all new episode of Long Lost Longbox: Black Orchid #18, We continue the Twisted Season arc (in order this time!) and look at the artists on this particular run.



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