In Review: Orphan Age #3

The ultimate orphan appears in this issue and it's a frightening thing.

The cover: The character in profile that’s screaming into the bottom right corner is known as a Feral, Wild Child, or one of the Wolf People. This individual is the focus of this issue’s “Wild.” This cover by Nuno Plati, the interior artist, isn’t striking only because of the design of this character, but the white lines that are streaking through the character making him look as though he’s moving very quickly. This aspect of the Feral is key to the story. The minimal colors of the character on a white background really makes this stand out on the racks. This is a great tease of what’s to come. Overall grade: A

The story: On a road that’s becoming overrun by vegetation that’s not held in a check, a rabbit runs off after the glass bottle above it on the barrier is shot. Daniel is giving Princess lessons, since guns are a necessity as they make their way. They’re interrupted by Willa telling them that two people are approaching. Daniel talks to them and he, Willa, and Princess join the pair on their horses. As they ride, the man says, “Everybody’s on edge ’round here. Something been breakin’ through the fences and taking our animals…Whole farm’s on the hunt.” Daniel tells them they’re just passing through and they soon part ways. Ted Anderson has set the stage for what’s to follow. As they ride, Princess hangs back seeing something in bush . She gets off her horse and encounters the Feral. Willa and Daniel tell her why this old man is the way he is and it’s a sad and brutal thing to read. Princess is warned to stay away from the Wild Kid, but, being a naive child, she thinks the man can be helped. This leads to a conflict that goes badly for one person. With this threat resolved, Daniel reveals some backstory about himself to Princess that shakes her. His final two lines are brutal truths. This was a story that’s quickly read, but an effective one nonetheless. Overall grade: A

The art: Nuno Plati’s art is engaging because his visuals tell the story or add to it when there is no dialogue. The opening panel shows the state of the world through the unkempt state of the highway. The two panels that follow are excellent precursors with how wild things are treated. Three panels on the second page contain no dialogue, forcing the reader, along with Willa and Princess, to figure out what’s being said from a distance. Look at how closely Plati pulls into Princess on the fourth page as she wrestles with what Daniel says: it’s a neat visual way to watch her think about his words. The reveal in the third panel on page 7 is enough to make anyone scream. The full reveal of the Feral on 8 has it as a ghastly gaunt thing, looking as though it would fall over at any moment. Notice how Plati doesn’t show what Daniel is doing, but the gesture and Princess’s action answers any questions the reader may have. I love the embers that flit about on 10  – 12, creating a terrific atmosphere for what’s being told. Notice how the embers are gone with Willa’s dialogue, making the reader wholly focus on her words and giving them immense weight. There’s no dialogue on 14, but the reader knows exactly what’s going through one character’s mind with the final panel on the page. The two panels atop 17 form one larger image, but by separating them Plati emphasizes how they are worlds apart. The progression of actions that follow are frightening. Page 18 is beautiful for the actions and its conclusion. The reaction that starts 19 is great as is the lack of emotion that follows — this lack of emotion is the only way to survive in the world. The final page has intense close-ups to emphasize what’s being said, with Daniel’s final panel brutal. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The book opens with the most colors of the issue: the sky is a pale blue-gray and the characters are colored in browns. The backgrounds are in all engulfing sea of greens to emphasize the scale of the woods that surround them. Things darken when a character goes into those woods and the darkness magnifies the horror of what’s found. The conversation around the campfire has flecks of yellow embers brightening up the night. The climatic scene in the woods is given a harsh orange to intensify the actions and it does so extremely well. Notice there are no colored bits of ember on the final two pages because after this issue’s events everything has gone dark for one character. João Lemos has done an great job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Marshall Dillon is the letterer for this issue. His work consists of sounds, dialogue, yells, the concluding quote, and the three word tease for next issue. The sounds really magnify the emptiness of the woods, keeping me on edge as I read. There are several types of yells, with some understandable and others indecipherable. The concluding quote looks scholarly in a thin font that uses lower case letters. The three word tease is done a bold, chunky font, making the continuing story seem large. Overall grade: A

The final line: The ultimate orphan appears in this issue and it’s a frightening thing. The lessons that Princess is learning are painful, but necessities to survive. Princess seems to be losing more of her humanity as this series progresses, making her an orphan from others around her. It makes me really interested to see where Anderson is leading this title. The visuals are really strong, with them giving the reader insight even when there’s no text. This is the sign of a strong artist. This is a series to follow. 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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