Pullbox Reviews: Orcs! #1 – Adventure, a Ninja Orc, & savage wildlife

Cover A (main)
  • Orcs!
  • Boom! Studios
  • Created, Written & Illustrated by Christine Larsen
    • With special thanks to H.E. Gregory for Flats
  • Variant covers by
    • Sweeney Boo
    • Miguel Mercado
  • Available February 10th, 2021

For fans of The Adventure Zone and Critical Role, meet Bog and his misfit crew of Orcs as they adventure through the Known World courtesy of acclaimed cartoonist Christine Larsen (Adventure Time). After being banished from their Orcish village by King Hrograhgah (it was a simple misunderstanding, involving an acorn-related prank!), Bog and his crew venture out into the world to seek their fortune, and hopefully find their way back home again. Tag along with Bog, Zep, Pez, Utzu and Gurh as they venture through the dreaded Eerieasallhel Forest, face off against Trolls, Gnomes, squirrels and more, and follow in the footsteps of the legendary Orc hero, Drod One-Eye! Every issue of Orcs! is oversized, featuring more than 30 story pages.

‘Ware, gentle reader, lest this tale of danger drag into the depths of… danger.

Lemme start again.

Oh, lament this tale of danger most foul, as we follow the intrepid troupe of adventurers into the deadly shadows of Eerieasallhell Forest. There the heroic Bog, dashing Gurh, & feisty Utzu will face off against a swarm of vicious feral…

Okay, look. There are books out there featuring adventure & daring do, led by courageous heroes out of myth & lore. Stories where the stakes are high as honorable explorers plow headlong into the jaws of peril for the defense of the defenseless and the honor of the realm. If that’s the tale you’re looking for, you’re gonna want to look somewhere else, because this is something else entirely.

The brainchild of Christine Larsen (follow her on Twitter & Instagram), Orcs! is a fantasy story that’s more likely to deliver a case of the giggles than chills. It starts out recounting a story from the legend of Drod the orc adventurer as she discovers a mysterious and secluded isle. Then we’re introduced to Utzu as she says goodbye to her little orclet Sprog, before heading out into the wide world of adventure. Finally, we’re introduced to the gang- the aforementioned Bog, Gurh, & Utzu, now joined by Pez & Zep. Each part of the issue flows into the next, giving readers a glimpse at the different characters in their natural habitat before moving along. While it might give the impression of being disjointed, it actually read sort of like an episode of Life in Pieces. Through it all, Larsen invests her story with humor, both wry & sharp, secure in the knowledge that at least some part of her readership is going to be made up of gamers who are going to get the joke (we’ve all been part of that group, sitting down with the idea of playing the Heroes of the Abyss, only to wind up more in the neighborhood of Monty Python).

Sure, in a comic like Orcs! the artwork is going to be pretty important. Christine Larsen can’t just sign anyone onto her project without carefully considering how an artist’s style will gel with the tone of her story. It’s a tricky balancing act, to be sure. Luckily it’s one that is easily overcome if you have the talent to draw as well as write. Hey, kinda like Christine Larsen! With an approach that’s more cartoony than Critical, Larsen takes her written word and uses the same whimsical sensibility to bring her action to the page. I mean, it’s not all jokes and snide comments… there is action, and it’s pretty well done for all that it’s as much slapstick as anything else. And I got a kick out of her character designs, showing a much more diverse group of orcs than Lord of the Rings might have given them credit for.

Plus, there’s Zep the orc ninja!

While you might initially think that Orcs! just isn’t for you, that you’re much more aligned with a more serious tone when reading fantasy, let me just say that I thought the same thing. This isn’t the kind of story I’d normally get into, and I do enjoy the many adaptations of Conan, Fahfred, & occasionally Elric. But as in all aspects of life, “how do you know you won’t like it if you’ve never even tried it?” There will always be comics of Doom & Gloom on the market, following the adventures of dark fated heroes. But every now and then, consider that it might be nice to relax a little. Lighten up and have a little fun with your comic book reading.

If you try Orcs! and decide that you don’t like it, just shoot me an email… I’m not offering any kind of money back guarantee, but at least then I’ll know that you’re a big ol’ stick in the mud who dislikes the funny. I will then continue to review hilarious and whimsical books until your eyes bug out from the sheer angst of it all.

Final Score: 12/13

Cover B by Sweeney Boo
Cover C by Miguel Merdado
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