Page 45 Review by Tom
There's the general consensus that SCOTT PILGRIM was the forerunner of a new wave of American comics and that his peers, Reyyy, Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, etc. were riding in the wake of Bryan's success. But that just doesn't wash with me, I prefer to think of SCOTT PILGRIM as the first hit in a powerful combo and if that's the case then be ready for a pummelling with ORC STAIN. James' art defies conventional analysis. I am aghast at the level of detail here, I don't think I've ever read an artist's work that can match the scale of this yet retain the nuances needed to distinguish his characters. James does, and with concepts which rip up the conventional trappings of fantasy genre. In fact there is little to relate James' work to that of his peers until you read the dialogue, which is as fast-paced, imaginative, and rife with inventive references as anything by Brandon Graham or Bryan Lee O'Malley. If KING CITY was Hard Boiled Hip Hop, then ORC STAIN is a Spaghetti Conan by way of Terry Gilliam with a script by an early John Carpenter.
In the beginning there were Orc; an indomitable convulsing infection on the world. In a constant state of war and looting they were their own worst enemy, too motivated by base greed and lust for nymphs to be organized into a lasting empire. Until now. In the southern jungles an Orc with a bigger Gronch than any other has risen to unify the tribes and rule the world. He is the Orc Tzar, and he searches for the Ganga Gronch, a lost organ of a forgotten god, to ensure his dominance over all Orc kind. In the northern mountains a skilled thief called One Eye literally cracks safes with his unique skill to see the fault line in anything, wrecking untold damage with his small (yet perfectly crafted) hammer. And while he's used to the double-crossing ways of his less gifted ilk, when a blood feud over a few chits descends into a rampaging mob cutting into his bath time, and mysterious, bearded ninjas begin throwing every one-eyed Orc in the Mountains into living death camps, One Eye's salvation may lie in the biggest threat to his Gronch of all: Bowie Enocraz Yaramund, Poison Thrower, Swamp Ramba, She-Devil. You're probably wondering what the hell Gronch and chits are. Well if it isn't completely evident with the first few pages James has included a wonderful, illustrated glossary of Orc terms. Complete with a stomach-churning depiction of how chits are made from an Orc's Gronch. You will wince.