Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman’s reign of terror continues! I’m talking of course about their Image Comics series Burn the Orphanage, now on the third issue of its second miniseries, Reign of Terror. Grace and Freedman are co-creators and co-writers, with Grace also providing the artwork. Born out of nostalgia for butt-kicking video games and action movies of the nineties, Burn the Orphanage has moved on to create its own mythos and backstory, and Grace and Freedman adeptly pull in elements and characters from the fist miniseries, proving that nothing Rock and his friends Lex and Bear do is an act unto itself. Their actions have far-reaching consequences, and now more than ever, everyone is depending on them to save the day.
This issue marks the welcome return of the stripper ninjas, and it turns out Lex and the head ninja Minnie have something of a past. Amongst personal vendettas and power struggles, relationships take center stage, as old enemies are made into tenuous allies, and old wounds are re-opened in the face of possible death. Funny how the fear of unceremoniously being wiped off the face of the Earth will make you reflect on what, and who, really matters in life. Some enemies though, have no interest in reconciliation, and it appears as if Elyse will once again prove a force to be reckoned with, but now with revenge as her sole goal. You know what they say about a woman scorned, especially one with supernatural powers: she might cause some trouble and kill some people, possibly even your friends, and you, if she gets what she wants. Tensions run high in this third of five issues as the small team of rebels tries to hold onto hope, even with their numbers dwindling, and their plan on the rocks.
Grace’s fun and frenetic art is complemented by colorist Renee Keyes, who invigorates scenes with bright, bold colors and infuses the characters with emotion simply through the color in their cheeks. Rus Wooton’s lettering explodes all over the place, from sound effects to shouting matches to out-and-out fights, bringing an immediacy to even the most timid of exchanges. As in every issue of Reign of Terror, extras abound in the back pages. The book has quite a following, and there is an excellent cosplay photo and fan art to prove it. Not to mention such artistic and creative superstars as Fiona Staples and Ming Doyle, along with Kris Anka and W. Scott Forbes, providing character redesigns for many of the women in the series, including new outfits for them to sport in the last two issues.
Burn the Orphanage: Reign of Terror is entertaining, violent, and funny, and Grace and Freedman keep the tone planted firmly tongue-in-cheek, even when things get more serious for their heroes. As long as these guys continue to follow their bizarre, twisted vision and embrace their love of nostalgia and pop culture, I have no doubt their fan base will only continue to grow, as will the legends of Rock, Lex, and Bear.