Review: Orchid Volume 1 (Dark Horse)

When I first heard about Orchid (blurb and facts are down below), the brain child of Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello, I had low expectations. Admittedly, I thought he was already skilled in one area, music, what were the chances he would be skilled in another completely unrelated one, comics.

I’d read interviews and press releases that made me think Orchid would be a heavy-handed political and social diatribe vilifying politicians and the rich and babying the rest of us, barely held together with pictures– pretty much a Chick Tract for social revolution.
When I finally got my hands and eyes on Orchid Volume 1[1. A copy of this title was provided for review by Dark Horse Comics.] I found myself wrapped up in a fast-paced action-adventure starring the quirky and blindly optimistic nerd, Simon, and the surly whore, Orchid, with nothing and everything to lose.
Volume one, covering issues 1-5, is a proper set up of the characters and why we should care about them. This post-apocalyptic world is vast, feeling vaster than the current world at times.
The first couple issues start with historical exposition set over elaborate, intricate scenes. I was reading on my kindle fire and often found myself zooming in to see what all was going on. Tom Morello (writer) and Scott Hepburn (artist) brought this somewhat over done setting new life. From fascinating creatures roaming the wild to the concept of people spending generations on “the derelict barges,” it all felt fresh and exciting.

But once the characters took center-stage it was hard to notice much else– though the art stays well done throughout– with the snappy dialogue and constant progress.
Orchid, Simon, and The Mask (this is an actual, literal mask but with so much legend and power it is pretty much a character in its own right) face more than their fair share of foes and near misses. At some points the adventuring hits a lull and I realized this is seriously heavy, seriously sad, and just generally serious.
That’s one of the greatest things about Orchid; it takes the path of children’s stories and parables, the lesson and the story work so well together that I didn’t realize I was being taught.
I was attached to the story and the characters and the world as not only a fantastic place but also the home of these people who deserved better. Before I knew it, after experiencing their world, watching their struggles, triumphs, and failures, and even getting a glimpse at the antagonists, I’d joined their revolution.
Almost every character — the exception being some villains who do seem to be more symbolic power hoarders than individuals– is fleshed out with a back story, from being a simple bridge folk whore to a nerd who wouldn’t be so out of place elsewhere where he was a slave specially trained because of his aptitude[2. I thought Simon was a time traveler when he was first introduced, until his manner of being was explained away sufficiently enough to re-suspend my disbelief].
You’ll be hard pressed to read Orchid and not to be moved or inspired on some level. Maybe simply by Simon’s unwavering courage and idealism, maybe by Orchid as a strong woman, or even by one of the “villains[3. Issue #5 SPOILER: I’m not willing to call Don Barrabas an actual villain so much as a survivor/victim/pawn who aligned with a man, Tomo Wolfe, willing to do right by him to accomplish much greater wrongs.]” who was somewhat of an ugly duckling (if the ugly duckling turned out to be a duck hunter-chef).
Sure, you might not feel you’re now expertly educated about class warfare or moved to “damn the man, save the empire.” But I can definitely say through Tom Morello telling Orchid’s story I felt heard, and seen, and important as a woman, and a person of color, and a nobody with no power or clout. Generally, as a person with things that can be or have been used to marginalize me. In Orchid, all those things that they use against us were the building blocks to make powerful characters, powerful ideas.
At the end of most comics the writer includes a short essay about their thoughts on the work. While I don’t really I care about nearly any issues, including class, in the real world, the passion Tom Morello shows for this project and this message is the kind of passion that can only create great things.

I’ve always been drawn to epic tales. Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. But for me, there was always something missing. I could never entirely get behind the goal. “C’mon, subjects! Let’s get the king back on the throne!” Or “To arms, vassals! Let’s return the princess to glory!” In my book, kings and princesses are the bad guys. But what was really missing from these epic tales was the unspoken but ever present dirty five-letter word: CLASS. Who rules and why? Who has a lot and who has nothing? And why the hell doesn’t somebody do something about it?! In Orchid the cool monsters, the narrow escapes, and epic battles are front and center, but somebody finally does something about the remorseless inequality that mirrors our own world. And that somebody is Orchid.

Orchid is successful as something new and different, something intriguing and engaging, and something worth reading.
I’d stand up to The Hangman for it.
[rating:5/5]
 

The facts about Orchid Volume 1 direct from Dark Horse:

When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed. Human settlements are ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves.
Delve into the first chapter of Orchid, the tale of a teenage prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her.
CREATORS
Writer: Tom Morello
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Genre: Action/Adventure

Publication Date: July 11, 2012
Format: FC, 112 pages; TP, 7″ x 10″
Price: $17.99
Age range: 14
ISBN-10: 1-59582-965-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-965-8

 

Stress: It'll kill ya.

Stress. Our bodies natural response to emotional experiences. Stress can be good or bad, but most people agree that when the bodies natural fight-or-flight response is prevented, it can cause some problems – including but not limited to: headaches, heart attacks, strokes, IBS, stomach ulcers and over-eating. It’s important to remember that the Human Being is still an animal – a clever, emotional, complex animal yes, but most of our responses are still rooted in the animal.
You’d think that post apocalypse this animal reaction to stress would be great, right? Fight or flight? You’re going to be doing that a lot, and surely the nasty sides of stress won’t be such an issue any more.
Well, read on, my minions. Read on.
The problem with that theory is that while we are still animals, we are also still thinking human beings. Stress and trauma can be longer lasting for us, for a start. Even if the horrific expereinces don’t seem to have made a mark on your friend yet, that’s no guarantee they won’t be curled up, catatonic, in the fetal position in the next hour, week, month, year or decade. Add our huge, complex brains to the post-apocalyptic stress equation, and you have some serious problems.
And obviously, those more immediate problems come to mind – such as the heart attacks and strokes – after all, if one of your top fighters suddenly conks out in training, you’ve lost a great resource as well as a much loved member of your team. But it’s the more subtle stress problems that could be tearing your group apart from the inside. Thing like:
 
Emotional instability: which could lead to infighting, irrational thinking and even murders or suicides
Lack of sleep: Which could lead to guard missing something vital
‘Foggy thinking’ : which could lead to injury or death of the suffererand any people relying on them.
 
So, what it there to do? After all, you’re going to be extrememly lucky to have a trained therapist in your team, and the other options to deal with stress (yoga, healthy diets, etc) are going to be seriously premium.
Well, I suggest violence. Allow the stressed people to BEAT things and drink too much. It worked for the middle ages – and it’s not as if they were a time period where whole continents were ripped apart by civil and religious war while battling city states slaughtered men, women, and children… oh.
 
Well, just do the best you can.
 

5 Apocalyptic Lessons From Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach, the final installment-prequel in the Halo series by Bungie, chronicled the initial invasion and downfall of the human race on the planet Reach to the Covenant.

The planet Reach is humanity’s last line of defense between the encroaching Covenant and their ultimate goal, the destruction of Earth. If it falls, humanity will be pushed to the brink of destruction.
source

Known for it’s fairly short campaign mode and extensive multiplayer offerings, Halo: Reach is a perfect way to learn a few apocalypse life lessons. Continue reading “5 Apocalyptic Lessons From Halo: Reach”

Post-apocalyptic communications

I’ve been having Internet problems lately. Basically, my router is rebelling and refuses to connect me to my addiction the interwebs. (The robot uprising, it is starting. Maybe.)
All of this lovely yelling at my router (in child-friendly terms, which means that my router is usually a fudge-y piece of spaghetti, occasionally the son of a blimp, and sometimes other equally ridiculous things) had me thinking about communications in the post apocalypse.
Because, you know, I depend on the Internet for communication. I mean, without the Internet, I never would’ve become friends with two women I’ve never met and have never even spoken to. And if THAT hadn’t happened, believe me when I say that the world would be a less entertaining place.
Continue reading “Post-apocalyptic communications”

Fellow post-apocalyptians: The Girls' Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse

So I’m still in the middle of The Move That Never Ends. (Swear to god, guys, this has been happening since the beginning of March. MARCH. It’s now almost May.) Since my mind is almost completely consumed by the house hunting process and trying to keep my kids from blowing up the corporate apartment The Company rented for us, I have (sadly) not had the chance to give much thought to the apocalypse.
But I didn’t want to just fall off the face of the planet. So I give you… “Fellow Post-apocalyptians,” whereby I write about someone (or some people) who also write about the apocalypse.
Of course, if I do this, you have to promise to come back to ICoS immediately after visiting the other site. Understand? If you don’t, I will hunt you down and take out my house hunting frustrations on you. And your computer. Mostly your computer.**
** I’m kidding. Mostly.
Continue reading “Fellow post-apocalyptians: The Girls' Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse”

Book review — Plan and Prep: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by Alex Newton

Disclaimer: While the author and I are Twitter acquaintances, I did not receive compensation for reviewing this book, nor did I receive a free copy for review.
This review was first published on my blog. The link to the original review is here.
This book is available from Amazon in both ebook and print formats.
Amazon blurb:

Plan and Prep: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is an introductory guide to emergency and disaster planning and preparation.
This book follows Bill Jones and his family as they navigate their way through a series of emergency and disaster events, culminating in the outbreak of a Zombie Apocalypse.
Plan and Prep: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse walks the reader through basic planning and preparation techniques and attempts to answer most of the more basic questions before they are asked. Areas that are often overlooked by beginners are explored, and some of the more common misconceptions are discussed.

This book does not claim to be a survival handbook, so if you’re looking for a how-to book about how to become Survivorman(TM), you’re reading the wrong book.
Also, note that Plan and Prep: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse isn’t actually about zombies–not the Hollywood kind, anyway. It does include zombies, but not the undead-eat-your-brains version that are currently prevalent in movies and TV.
Continue reading “Book review — Plan and Prep: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by Alex Newton”

Winter and you in the post apocalypse

You might remember that awhile back, Jettica wrote about climate in the post apocalypse. She talks about different climate and weather possibilities for the post-apocalyptic world. (They’re all valid possibilities.)
One of the things she talks about is snow. I, personally, hate snow. Despise it. With the heat of a thousand fiery suns. But unfortunately, I’m moving back to Canada and snow will once again be a fact of life. For probably six months of the year.
Have I mentioned I hate snow?
Anyway. Snow usually comes during that most dreaded of seasons–winter. (Well, I dread it, anyway. I hate winter as much, if not more, than I hate snow.) Winter is hell on icy, locked up wheels for most of us now, when we still have central heating and cars with block heaters–can you imagine what it’ll be like during the post apocalypse?
Yeah. It’ll be bad. And I can’t say that you’ll survive. (Winter, it is a cold, harsh, unfeeling entity.)
I know Ann talked about surviving the winter months in this post, and she’s got some valid tips. But here are a few more things to keep in mind in terms of what you’ll need to have with you. You know, if you happen to get stuck in a part of the world where winter will be your post apocalypse hell. Like Canada.
Continue reading “Winter and you in the post apocalypse”

Post-Apocalyptic Reading – Impressions: THE INFECTION by Craig DiLouie


Description of Craig DiLouie’s THE INFECTION[1. This book was provided for review by Permuted Press]

A mysterious virus suddenly strikes down millions. Three days later, its victims awake with a single purpose: spread the Infection. As the world lurches toward the apocalypse, some of the Infected continue to change, transforming into horrific monsters. 
In one American city, a small group struggles to survive. Sarge, a tank commander hardened by years of fighting in Afghanistan. Wendy, a cop still fighting for law and order in a lawless land. Ethan, a teacher searching for his lost family. Todd, a high school student who sees second chances in the end of the world. Paul, a minister who wonders why God has forsaken his children. And Anne, their mysterious leader, who holds an almost fanatical hatred for the Infected.  
Together, they fight their way to a massive refugee camp where thousands have made a stand. There, what’s left of the government will ask them to accept a mission that will determine the survival of them all—a dangerous journey back onto the open road and into the very heart of Infection.

The best part about apocalyptic survival stories is the rogue, make-your-own-rules mentality the characters get to embody. The worst part is the reality behind why they now have this mentality. Everyone they know is dead, missing, or has been murdered (possibly at their very own hands).
Unfortunately, The Infection has much more of the latter than the former. There are at least half a dozen characters, and most of them are sad or damn-near suicidal — actually someone in their party killed himself before we, the reader, join the story. Continue reading “Post-Apocalyptic Reading – Impressions: THE INFECTION by Craig DiLouie”

Ruin is a thing of Post-Apocalyptic beauty.

Ruin is a short film – around 9 minutes – by Oddball Animation. A simple story set in a post apocalyptic world.
And it is BEAUTIFUL. Stunningly animated with wonderful music.
Seriously. Look.
 

Ruin
Wasn’t that lovely? That is how I like my post-apocalyptic worlds. Overgrown, crumbling and filled with remnants of old tech. Someone needs to give Oddball Animation a boatload of money to make a feature length thing. I would watch it, and so would you.

Book review: The Zona by Nathan L. Yocum



Publisher’s blurb:[1. Review copy provided by Curiosity Quills Press]

It started with the Storms.
The world got too hot too fast. The weather wrecked Hell on man’s shiny, pretty civilization. With the heat and wet came bugs, with bugs came new diseases, and man’s numbers and sanity dwindled.
The survivors reformed governments like petty shadows of the world’s old empires. They sought answers and justifications, they sought redemption for what they perceived as man’s holy smiting.
Welcome to the Arizona Reformed Theocracy, otherwise called The Zona.
Here the Church rules with power absolute. The laws are simple, all sin is punished swiftly. Preachers enforce the Church’s words like old West lawmen.
But what happens when a Preacher refuses to kill? What happens when men of honor take a stand against their rulers?

As I was reading this book, the one thought that kept going through my head was, “Hey look, Ann and I kinda talked about this very setting already.”
Continue reading “Book review: The Zona by Nathan L. Yocum”