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Black Orchid [Paperback]

Neil Gaiman , Dave McKean
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Paperback --  
Paperback, Aug. 29 1991 --  

Book Description

Aug. 29 1991
From one of the most highly recognised and award winning comic writers on the scene today, Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Death, Violent Cases), and his sometime collaborator, innovative artist Dave McKean (Arkham Asylum, Cages, Violent Cases) comes a haunting and stylish exploration of birth, death and renewal. Both human and flower the heroine, Black Orchid, undertakes a hazardous journey to uncover her true origins, providing a moving ecological parable for our times. This work by Gaiman and Mckean is an early showcase for the talent we know today.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I am not a DC comic fan or collector, so please bear with me in giving you this review from a non-comic owner perspective.
While not a follower of the comics, I do love Neil Gaiman. This is the story of how Black Orchid comes to life and seeks out a meaning for, literally, the life given to her. She wants answers to the questions "Who am I? Why am I here?" and is desperate to find a place that she will belong.
Her tale is told with cameo appearances by Batman, Swamp Thing, and Poison Ivy; and you should not miss the nightmarish visit to the Arkham Asylum where a skeletal, sleepless man spills his nightmares on the floor, and the x-ray man weeps burning tears onto the floor.
She awakens as the Black Orchid in the greenhouse at Dr. Phillip Sylvian, with the memories of a woman named Susan Linden. Phil tells her about a little of her background, and tells her of those who he went to college with, without whom she would not be alive; Dr. Jason Woodrue, Pamela Isley and Alec Holland.
But before he can reveal everything to her, Phil is killed and the Black Orchid is on her own. Her ex husband Carl Thorne finds out about her plant-reincarnation, and makes a visit to her, killing all but one of the smaller plants that Phil has been nurturing. Black Orchid takes the little one with her, "Suzy", to Gotham city where a tip from a friend sends her off along to Arkham Asylum to speak with Poison Ivy. Suzy is snatched by Lexcorp, but after a quick visit with Swamp Thing, Black Orchid rescues Suzy and they fly off to the Amazon Rainforest where Black Orchid can plant her seeds.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's done better June 30 2004
Format:Paperback
First, the good news. McKean's art is a real asset. It's varied, skilled, and very expressive.
The story just didn't work for me, though. It was a little too close to the super-hero-in-spandex genre, with character crossovers from Superman, Batman, and I don't know what all else. There's a market for SHIS stories, but I'm not in it.
Gaiman's done some incredible work. He's set a standard for thoughtful, unusual characters and settings. The problem is, he set the standard so high that not even he can reach that mark every time. I really expected something more mature from Gaiman and McKean - maybe next time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid June 13 2003
Format:Paperback
One of the most beautiful graphic novels I have ever seen! Vivid colours and an excellent story (it's neil, of course the story is fantastic). I LOVE that the only things in the novel that are in colour are connected to Mother Earth and Nature. A brilliant statement!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but still a journeyman work Jan. 26 2003
Format:Paperback
I picked this up for three dollars at a remainder fair in Denver while I was there for Anaconism, and read it on the plane coming home. It was a whim purchase, based solely on my good impression of Gaiman from Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett) and his comic series, "Sandman." Black Orchid is a comic, and unlike "Sandman" for the most part, it is set in the superhero populated DC Universe (Batman, Swamp Thing, and the current inhabitants of the Arkham Asylum feature prominently in the story). Gaiman's treatment of the superhero genre is similar to Alan Moore's ("Swamp Thing," "Watchman")--much grittier, much more introspective than the usual porcelain doll pip-ups engaging in the endless slugfest. You know from the beginning, as stated in the introduction by Rolling Stone writer Mikal Gilmore, that something is different: the villain captures the heroine and, instead of revealing his plans to her, he kills her. It is startling in its suddenness and its other-worldliness (at least for superhero comics). Nudity? Sex? Language? These are not taboos anymore in the comic world, but to actually *kill* a character, and in such a matter-of-fact, realistic way, that's shocking. The rest of the book (actually a collection of three comics published in series in 1990) tries to live up to that moment, and sometimes comes close, but ultimately it isn't quite satisfying. Gaiman's willingness to find the trigger makes him someone to search out.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Has To Start Somewhere March 28 2002
Format:Paperback
As a big fan of Neil Gaiman's novels and Sandman series, I was truly looking forward to this. Of course, as seen in the early issues of Sandman, Gaiman wasn't a natural at writing comics (but, then again, who is?) and he needed a bit of time to develope his "sea legs" so to speak. As such, this work of his was a little weak, nowhere near on par with his later efforts in works such as Mr. Punch, American Gods, The Books of Magic, Neverwhere (the novel), and, of course, Sandman.
Dave McKean's artwork, though, is always a treat, so I should point out my review is focused more on Gaiman's writing for this rather than McKean's artwork.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Sept. 21 2001
Format:Paperback
This TPB was very strong. I love the art, the dialogue, nearly everything about it. Sure, there are "distracting" cameos by Swamp Thing and Batman, but when you realize the context in which this is made (McKean wanted to draw rainforests and Swamp Thing, and DC didn't want to stray too far from the mainstream), then you can thoroughly enjoy this, in my opinion.
It's not the most intellectually stimulating work, but it's enjoyable, and I find it to be a great book to pick up when you don't want to analyze too much.
In addition, I find McKean's depictions of Luthor and the Mad Hatter to be classic.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's graceful, introspective tale.
About the same time that Neil Gaiman took a little-known hero called the Sandman and created the rich mythology of Dream and the Endless, he reinvented another obscure character,... Read more
Published on July 7 2003 by Tom Knapp
4.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman delivers
I don't like everything that Neil Gaiman writes but I have to say that I DO like this book. Philip, an old classmate of Alec Holland (who became Swamp Thing later) has never had... Read more
Published on July 12 2001 by Ron Tothleben (tothleben@hotmail.com)
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Beginning
Black Orchid was first released at approximately the same time as Sandman #1 and was the second major work by both Gaiman and McKean after Violent Cases. Read more
Published on May 25 2001 by Blahblahblah
3.0 out of 5 stars Passable
Love the artwork, but every time I read this, I just end up scratching my head. It wanders, and just doesn't get anythig interesting done. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2000 by C. Bickford
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid, A Woman Done By Top Two Men in Graphic Novels!
I bought this before "Veils", also reviewed by me, and was very happy since this work, unlike most "comics" work, was more clearly aimed at women. Read more
Published on May 28 2000 by carol irvin
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Story From the Protean Days of Gaiman/McKean
Fans of the Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean collaboration which revolutionized the comic art form will find "Black Orchid" an interesting look back at this alliance in its... Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2000 by Jeffrey A. Veyera
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but not great either
this is the one gaiman/mckean work that had escaped my collection until recently and to tell the truth I was a bit disappointed. Read more
Published on Dec 22 1999
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