James Stokoe’s Orphan and the Five Beasts is continuing to be as deliciously weird as I was hoping it would be! Taking its inspirations from manga and anime like Berzerker and Fist of the North Star and Hong Kong kung-fu cinema, Stokoe has fashioned a tale full of Chinese mythological world building and epically daffy anime-style battles. It’s perfectly magical and freaking badass.
The orphan in question is Mo. She’s been trained in a powerful form of martial arts, zipping around almost unseen with her naginata (staff with a blade at the end). The five beasts are five people that long ago came to seek help from Mo’s master to overcome a mutual enemy, and once they were taught fighting styles specific to their personalities and defeated the enemy, they broke their promise to come back and went off to become “beasts” themselves, plaguing the valley with their horrible ways. Now, Mo is heading into the world to stop them.
In this issue, she takes on Thunder Thighs (Can you guess his martial arts power?), a king of thieves. This confrontation is a raucous, violent, and – for lack of a better way to put it – absolutely righteous, bro.
This issue would be fun with the story alone, but Stokoe is a visual force of nature on the page. His imagery is so visceral, so damned epic, that it’s the equivalent of eating the meatiest stew you’ve ever eaten, but for the eyes! It’s also elegant and hammy, and ridiculous and beautiful, sprinkled with amazing, anime-style declarative sentences with incredible lettering on top. It’s the perfect combination of everything.
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.