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‘Orphan and the Five Beasts #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

James Stokoe is a monster of a creator: a creator’s creator. His artwork is tremendous and detailed, and his stories are strange and epic. Orphan and the Five Beasts is exactly those things while paying heavy homage to the manga and anime from the era of Fist of the North Star.

A stranger with a branding on his forehead appears on the grounds of a temple somewhere deep in a beautiful forest. The aged kung-fu master tells a tale to his student Mo (the orphan referenced in the title) about what that branding means. Some time back, he made a deal with five strange creatures to teach them his ways in the fighting arts, and, in return, they would defeat a great evil and return to be a part of his school. Things did not go as planned, and now Mo has become the one who will have to take care of her master’s mistakes.

The characters here are not only larger than life, but many of them are bigger than they should be. This is an ode to Berzerker (not the Keanu Reeve’s one, but the epic anime) and, as I stated above, Fist of the North Star… just wait until Thunderthighs is introduced. Even the lettering is lovingly reminiscent of manga! Did I mention kung-fu? Much of this feels like Chinese-styled mythology. It’s wicked cool and wildly weird.

Every panel is full of a dynamic tension, a heightened realism, and unfettered bad-assery.

Looking beyond the art, Stokoe is also a tremendous storyteller, having been nominated for several awards in the past. Seeing a creator like Stokoe put work into the world is something I live for. There is a very specific vision that comes directly from how they see the world and the things they love.

Already, this is a fun ride, and Mo is going to be amazing. Here I come, issue two.

Creative Team: James Stokoe (script, art, letters, cover), Daniel Chabon (editor), Chuck Howitt and Konner Knudsen (assistant editors), Adam Pruett (digital art technician), Ethan Kimberling (designer)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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