Burn the Orphanage is back, and this time it’s an ongoing monthly book, kicking off with part one of the five-part Reign of Terror miniseries. The story picks up where the last issue, Wise Blood, left off, where Rock was transported back home after an interplanetary adventure and straight into harm’s way. But, the world that Rock knew only two months ago is gone, and he finds himself in a dystopian, dangerous futurescape that he doesn’t understand. Luckily, some familiar faces are there to help introduce him to this new world, including his best friends Lex and Bear, and his girlfriend Jess. One thing that never changes, though, is the need for butt kicking, and Rock and company are still as awesome at that as ever, no matter the enemy or the circumstances.
Reign of Terror is longer than the original Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose trilogy, which was made up of three individual, yet still interconnected, stories, and it is obvious that co-writers Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace have big plans for their heroes, having more time to delve into character development and emotional complexity, to build up the world, and to provide context and backstory that goes deeper than an issue or two. Due to this, this first issue is a little heavy on exposition, as everyone tries to bring Rock up to speed on the way the world is now. But, thankfully, Freedman and Grace are well aware of this and humorously call attention to it, assuring us that they know what they’re doing and are in control of their story. For my money, some of the best, funniest dialogue comes from Lex, and I greatly look forward to seeing how these characters grow and interact as Reign of Terror continues. Grace’s artwork here is a little rougher, a little grittier than in the original trilogy, and it took me a few pages to get accustomed to the new style, but it eventually grew on me. The action is still hard-hitting, fast, and exciting, and this new nemesis is unlike anything Rock has faced before. He’s fought demons and otherworldly creatures, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this new foe and this new alien environment. Also new is Renee Keyes on colors, and she helps to contribute to this new, unique artistic vision.
As always and always enjoyed, Freedman and Grace pay homage to some classic genres and genre tropes, but that’s all you’ll get out of me; the rest is for you to discover on your own. If you’ve been reading Burn the Orphanage from the beginning like I have, you’ll be intrigued and enthusiastic to see where this ambitious five-part story leads, and you already know you’re in for some unexpected revelations and outrageous battles. If you’ve never read Burn the Orphanage before, then Reign of Terror is the perfect place to start. Then, if you want to see how it all began, and if you’re curious as to why the series is called Burn the Orphanage, check out the Born to Lose trade paperback and get in good with Rock, Lex, and Bear, because you want to be on their side once things get crazy. And, in Freedman and Grace’s world, things eventually always get crazy, and that couldn’t make me happier.