Publish date: August 7, 2013 Publisher: Image Comics
Burn the Orphanage. Good title, that. It made me want to read the book, which of course is the first and last job of every element of a comic book, outside of the interior pages themselves. I guess it should also say a little something about what’s going on in those pages, too, which this does, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. What I will talk about that’s going on in these pages is a loving homage to everything great from the late ’80s and early ’90s. Everything from those ninja movies that we all love to hate to sleeveless jean jackets and video games—specifically 2-D brawlers like Street Fighter—is represented here. From the main character’s headband right down to a panel with the word “FIGHT” filled in with red ink between the two opposing parties, this comic constantly reminds me of the arcades and consoles of my childhood. At times, the simplicity and silly extravagance of the story itself also made me think fondly of those days when every problem was solved with the press of buttons marked “punch” and “kick”.
To call this book simple and leave it there is doing a real disservice to the writing, though. I was honestly impressed with how much character development the creators fit into this volume. Three really interesting, diverse, and believable characters populate these pages, and their interaction was probably my favorite thing about this comic. The connections between these three characters also made me reminisce over some of the friendships I formed during that same period of life when I hung out in video arcades—friendships that I’ve had the good fortune to maintain into my adult life; a deep, unshakable bond that transcends age, gender, location, and time. I’ve gone for almost a full decade before without seeing the two guys I’m thinking of, but every time we get back together, nothing has changed at all.
I can’t explain where that kind of commitment starts. It’s like falling in love, in a way. A friend of mine told me not long ago that a friendship like that is the family that you choose, while Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman, the co-writers of this excellent tome, described it in a way that actually put tears in my eyes—”I loved her like a good record or a great burger.” I guess that’s the bottom line I took away from my experience reading this book. A renewed appreciation for some of the small things that are easily overlooked, but that spell the difference between just going through the motions or having each day explode in a torrent of awesomeness.
That profundity, coupled with some great one-liners and ridiculous over-the-top action made this one of the best reads I’ve had in a while. It was a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely check back in with the next two issues to see how this trilogy turns out. I might even share it with a couple really good friends of mine.
I’m a lifelong media junkie, with a special love for comic books and geek culture. There’s a fine, blurry line between a good time, and art that actually means something. I’m interested in exploring the ways that both sides of that line impact our lives, and the things we can learn about ourselves and each other.