In Review: Orphan Age #2

The journey to survive has begun and the first stop brings trouble.

The cover: A hand hovers above a pistol that hangs from a hostler on a character’s hip. This character’s identity is hidden to get the reader to flip the book open to see which character reaches for their gun. The background is another part of Willa’s map with the word MALL just visible underneath the AGE of the title. Excellent tease from interior artist Nuno Plati. This event is indeed in this issue and is from the most intense part of the book. I’m all for covers that tease an incident and Plati has done this beautifully. Overall grade: A

The story: Princess wakes and crawls out of her tent to see Daniel is already up and cleaning his pistol. She asks why he’s doing that since they’re far from the Church. “Gotta keep your tools in order.” He says they’ve got a long way to go to Albany; they need food, medical supplies, and ammo. He also needs to get a gun for Princess. Willa enters the conversation when the young girl is shocked at carrying a weapon. “You don’t wanna use one. Fine. That means someone’s gonna use one on you.” She adds that her map has a place they can go to to get what Daniel needs and they get on their horses to go to a mall. Surrounded by a monstrous metal wall and guarded, the trio are greeted by Kent and his son Billy. Money can be used as well as barter for things inside. This situation from writer Ted Anderson seems like the trio’s prayers are answered, until Willa notices something about one of the sellers on Page 11. This complicates things considerably. What follows is an extremely tense situation that’s diffused the only way possible, and it’s not pretty. The final two pages are an outstanding conclusion to what’s occurred, followed with a quote from Robert Hass. This was a great story that even those who missed the first issue — and shame on you if you did — could easily understand. This was a riveting read. Overall grade: A

The art: I’m also really enjoying the artwork of Nuno Plati. The first panel is solely a setting: a deserted gas station covered in growth with a fire that is smoldering out. The gun in the foreground of the second panel changes the tone quickly. Daniel and Willa’s matter of fact expressions as they speak to Princess adds to the seriousness of how the world now works. Having Princess look shocked at what she’s told shows how protected she was by her father, who died at the Church’s hands. Daniel looks like an oversized teddy bear and his son Billy is the exact opposite, being tiny and frail looking. I loved that their shirts were matching. I loved the joy on Daniel’s face at the bottom of 6. The point of view that ends 9 adds much strength to what Kent tells Princess that can only be appreciated later in the book. Willa’s reactions on 11 shows she’s not one to mess around with. The intense close-ups of characters on the following pages increase the tension exponetially. I also love the bugged out faces of the younger people in the interchange. The entrance at the bottom of 15 is outstanding: it’s a game changing moment and it holds a lot of power. The visual reaction that starts the next page tells the reader who’s now in charge of the situation. The tear that tops 17 is killer. Pages 18 and 19 have only one word of dialogue, requiring Plati to communicate the story to the reader with his visuals and he does a perfect job. Plati is really grabbing me with his visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: João Lemos colors the book in several shades of brown, giving those pages a heavy tone. Considering all the tragedy that happened last issue, it’s appropriate. I love the use of pastels for the dawn in the first panel: it’s unusual looking but gives the visual a classic look, like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Notice how the background lightens when Willa enters on Page 3, with the sky going a brilliant light blue at the bottom of the page. The colors are brightest on 8 and 9 when someone tells a story. Though look how they dim considerably in the final panel on 9; this adds immensely to what’s to come. The interior setting is dark, but contains enough color to highlight characters. Once outside, the colors are brighter, yet still dim, highlighting how the situation has tainted everyone. Excellent work by Lemos. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, yells, a quote from Robert Hass, and the three word tease for next issue are created by Marshall Dillon. Most of Dillon’s work is adding dialogue, but when someone yells or sounds occur they explode off the page. The quote that closes the issue is in a thin font that employs lower case letters, giving it a very classical and academic feel. The three word tease is in bold caps, visually teasing that the action will continue in thirty days. Overall grade: A

The final line: The journey to survive has begun and the first stop brings trouble. I really liked the story, with a familiar location revealing to be a haven for more than merchandise. Princess is going to be the most changed character by this trek/series and she’s a great way for the reader to see the world. The visuals are excellent, with art and colors enhancing the story on every page. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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