Orchid is a young, destitute, and impoverished prostitute living in a post apocalyptic world with her mother and younger brother. The seas have risen, animals have jumped centuries in manner and evolutionary scale, and a much wider gap has been wedged between the rich and poor. Class has become the name of the game. Own or be owned. Comply or die. A group of rebels try to liberate a mask from the ruling lord Tomo Wolfe, a blue soiled mask which belonged to General China, the Robin Hood of his time and great inspiration to those in need. Seven rebels, five of which were slaughtered, one captured, and one escaped to begin our story. This first trade volume and arc is comprised of the first 4 issues of Orchid, as well as some collaborative history provided by Tom Morello and a few rough beginning sketches by comic artist Scott Hepburn. This arc introduces the arc's main characters, Orchid and her brother Yehzu, Simon the escaped rebel, and Tom Wolfe and his most trusted compatriots, Don Barrabas and Don Gletkin. It gives us a bit of their back stories, but not too much exposition that some would consider overkill. It also comes with its own soundtrack.
The soundtrack is an interesting and novel innovation to the world of graphic novels. The first that came to my attention was Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves and the accompanying CD, Haunted, by Danielewski's sister, the musican Poe. Included as an MP3 download code in each issue, Morello, who has composed many pieces for film, decided to create a score that would work as a companion piece to each section of the arc. A very interesting number of pieces accent the content of the issues well. Welcomed, it didn't come off as a gimmick to purchase the book, but as an added bonus to the reader, almost as much as a bonus as the reprint of Issue #1, which was sold out at all stores initially.
Volume One is out now and you can pick up the previous few issues of the second arc which started in March 2012 as well, as long as you can find them. It's a welcome change to find characters who aren't such cookie cutter, one note players in a story we've already heard a hundred times before. It's also an interesting examination of how, with a few minor changes, your own life story can take on a life of its own.