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‘Burn the Orphanage #3:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Co-writer Daniel Freedman and fellow co-writer and artist Sina Grace are back throwing punches and making jokes in the third and final issue of their Burn the Orphanage miniseries, Born to Lose.  Working as both a continuation and conclusion to the previous issue’s Demons storyline, this issue, titled Wise Blood, offers more in the way of character development for Lex and Bear, while Rock is spirited away to try and make things right on a distant planet.  There is less brawling here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still see some battles and bruises, though, at times, they come more in the form of volatile relationships and hurt hearts.  The story splits focus more evenly between Rock and Lex and Bear this time around, and the two friends contemplate and plumb the depths of what it means to be in love and what love even means, where the stakes can be just as high as in an actual fight, and the injuries possibly even more long lasting. This introspection is still delivered in the raucous and irreverent style as those following the exploits of Rock and his friends have come to expect, and the energy behind the musings make the dialogue more kinetic than conjectural.

Fear not, those of you who want nothing to do with love, emotions, or matters of the heart, for Rock’s battle is not a metaphorical one, but a physical struggle between life and death, though it does have a bit of a magical element to it.  Without giving away any spoilers, Freedman and Grace still manage to deliver a tongue-in-cheek helping of butt-kicking nostalgia, here in a more stylized, less thematic way, and the result catches you off guard and slaps a big, goofy grin on your face.  There are a plethora of two-page spreads and creative page layouts that give the action a swift pace and provide a grand scope befitting Rock’s larger-than-life situation.  These scenes flow smoothly and utilize the environment in their staging, and throughout the issue Grace delivers the same level of engaging, energized artwork that he did in the previous two issues, deftly handling both scenes of dinner talk and of otherworldly fighting, and creating a sense of urgency to each. Assisting once again are John Rauch’s bright, fanciful colors, and they especially shine in the Rock storyline, and Rus Wooton’s lettering helps to tie it all together.  

If the overall story seems a little discombobulated, a little short and quick here and there, I chalk it up to the two interesting, though unconnected, storylines and Freedman and Grace spending more time to further develop Lex and Bear, as opposed to just letting them remain relegated to the position of Rock’s sidekicks, which I think is a smart move.  While the storytelling may be slightly off kilter, the entertainment value and creativity are still all there and on point.  I sensed that Freedman and Grace were chomping at the bit to get into a new story arc, and I was pleased to find out that their miniseries has been successful enough to have spawned a monthly series, and they are enthusiastically up to the challenge.  In fact, the short and honest letter from the two co-creators at the end of the issue makes you want to see their ongoing Burn the Orphanage series flourish even more, and to see where they take their heroes next in the wildly unpredictable, violent, and hilarious world they’ve created.  The end of this third issue offers up a tantalizing and rollicking new adventure that is sure to deliver thrills, laughs, and epic-scale fisticuffs.  So, bring on the next level, but, first, make sure you beat this third level, because it will make what is to come all the more rewarding.