In Review: Orphan Age #4

Past acquaintances are found in Albany, plus new threats.

The cover: New character Lindy is the focus of this cover by Nuno Plati. Her back is to the reader as she faces a giant map of Albany, continuing the theme of maps as backgrounds for the covers. Lindy has a solemn look on her face as she turns to the right to look at the reader. She’s missing her arm on that side, which might be a reason why she looks so dour. The dark colors magnify the intensity of her demeanor. That said, brighter colors might have made this stand out better on the racks. Overall grade: B+

The story: Princess, Daniel, and Willa have finally made it to Albany. The youngest member of the group asks Daniel if they have cars or electricity. The first is a no, the second a maybe. Princess wants to talk to someone on the city council to tell them what happened to Dallastown and arrange a rescue party. Daniel knows someone they can talk to. As they make their way through the crowded streets filled with people, including someone preaching that the New Church has answers, he tells Princess and Willa how much bigger Albany has become: “Not just the buildings — There’s always more people. I remember when this place was just a hundred kids with bonfires down by the river. Now it’s probably thousands.” They arrive at their destination and meet Lindy, who knows Daniel. Princess tells the City Councilor about what happened in Dallastown and gets a hard dose of reality. This blow is softened by the introduction of a new character on Page 15. With this character taking Princess’s focus, Willa elects to go out for a while on her own, while Lindy and Daniel share a glass of wine in private. The conversation between this pair is interesting, as things are hinted at but not directly stated. This gave Ted Anderson’s dialogue the air of authenticity. The last three panels on 18 were shocking, though nothing is specifically revealed, though much is teased. I knew that the reveal on the final page would have to occur at some point, but it came much sooner than I had expected. Things are going to get intense next issue after this installment’s calm. I enjoyed traversing Albany, the introduction of Lindy, and those questionable actions on 18. Overall grade: A

The art: The first panel of the book is a large illustration looking down upon the trio of leads riding into Albany. It’s an excellent establishment shot by Nuno Plati and is a solid introduction to the vast city. The panel that follows shows Princess’s reaction to the site, as well as Daniel’s joy at the wonder it brings her. Very nice visual moments. Pages 4 and 5 have a large panel that crosses both pages to show the number of people making their way on the street. It’s a good illustration that reminds me of the streets of New York City. The small panel on 4 that shows the New Church zealot is a great reminder of the trouble that set these three on their path to the city. Lindy look hardened by the past, but her smile gives her much warmth. I like how her face resumes a hardness when Willa doesn’t volunteer much about herself. The top panel on 8 shows how much Princess’s tale hits Lindy and it’s a great character moment. The Laughing Pig is an excellent visual change of place, creating a safe and normal location for the characters and reader. The visual that starts Page 15 is an smart way to show the passage of time without having it explicitly stated in the text. Princess’s reaction in the fifth panel and her action in the sixth are fantastic; she hasn’t had this major an emotion since the horrors of the second issue. It’s especially pleasing to seeing her get a moment to act her age at the top of the next page. Notice how Willa is visually off-putting in the fourth panel on 16 — foreshadowing! The conversation between Lindy and Daniel is fantastic to look at. There’s a tension, but not a terrible one. Every movement speaks volumes. The final three panels on 18 tease so much, though what actually happens will be saved for a future issue. Still, they left me with more dread than the final page. The last page will be familiar to anyone who’s been reading this series since its start and it contains so much promise of horrors to come. The last panel is a terrific way to end the issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: João Lemos does a tremendous job with this book’s colors. Notice the dark colors of Albany that the heroes are in as they gain entrance to the city and how once inside its borders they brighten, as if their ordeal is finally over. Among the crowd on 4 and 5 the colors darken again to create a mass of humanity, but the New Church’s signage stands out in dark crimson, which is a brilliant choice. The interiors of the building where Lindy is met are dark, but appropriate for the locale. When Princess has her talk with Lindy the colors go really dark, as if all life has been sucked out of everyone. Once outside, colors return and the Laughing Pig’s exterior is probably the brightest moment in the book, showing a return to what was once normal. Daniel and Lindy’s glass of wine conversation is colored in sexy browns. I like that the speaker on the final page is colored in bronze’s life a false idol. Overall grade: A+

The letters: A whisper, dialogue, signage, yells, the closing quote, and the three word tease for next issue are created by letterer Marshall Dillon. The whisper is slightly smaller than normal dialogue, but poses no problem for any reader to comprehend; it’s used to create amazement in a speaker. There are two signs in the book, both using different fonts that are supposed to be handwritten. The closing quote stands out for looking antiquated as it uses lower case font. The three word tease is in bold letters to create a shock to draw readers to see how this issue’s finale plays out in thirty days. Overall grade: A

The final line: Past acquaintances are found in Albany, plus new threats. The characters have reached their destination, but it may not hold the salvation they were hoping for. I enjoyed Lindy and what she brings to one character, as well as Princess’s encounter late in the book. The visuals are terrific, capturing the scale of the location and the emotion that each character feels. The colors add immensely to the story, enhancing every facet of the visuals. Orphan Age deserves a home in your collection.  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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