ORCS! #5 Review
ORCS! #5 finds our troupe of orcs taking part in some shopping as they try to determine their place in the Known World. The series is written and illustrated by Christine Larsen (Adventure Time, By Night), with variant covers by Sweeney Boo and Andrew MacLean.
Bog’s band of orcs take a well-earned break from hijinks as they partake in a little shopping adventure. As they plot a way to get back home Pez and Zep express doubts about whether they even should. Yet destiny may have other plans for them.
ORCS! #5 is published by BOOM! Studios under their imprint KaBOOM! And is available from June 9, 2021.
ORCS! #5 Story
ORCS! #5 gets very much into some typical Dungeons & Dragons tropes, starting off with a shopping adventure and later seeing our heroes get caught up in an overly protracted discussion about what to do next. We’re also given a little bit of world-building for the dwarves of the Known World, learning how they grew to trade with the surface races.
Dwarves are perhaps the most consistent of all fantasy races, yet Larsen still finds a way to wave her own little twist onto the core concept. I also really love that Larsen goes for the bearded female dwarves, as well as giving us a lesbian relationship that without putting focus upon it shows us that such things aren’t questioned in the Known World.
This series continues to catch me off guard with how it injects emotion and character study into the story. ORCS! would work well enough as a purely fun and humorous book with characters only deep enough to support the misadventures, yet Larsen pushes it further by giving us beautiful moments with our orcs where we learn how they’re emotionally coping with everything happening to them as well as how they feel about each other and themselves. I absolutely love seeing a tender orc family moment and wish we got to see so many more in other media.
It also may be a bit late for me to make this observation given we’re five issues in, yet I’ve realized just how much Larsen likes to set up tension or conflict only to undercut it. This can be a negative if handled poorly, and even when done well it is not something everybody will appreciate, but I feel it works so well at keeping the story surprising and also maintaining the light and humorous tone of the series.
ORCS! #5 Art
I’ve talked a lot about why I love Larsen’s art in previous reviews, particularly the dynamic expressions of the characters, so I’m going to shift a bit for this one. Firstly, I want to talk about how this issue really focuses upon brilliant backgrounds and landscapes. Previous issues have often been simpler in backgrounds to put focus on the characters, as well as the fact that in most cases the backgrounds did all they needed to establish setting. Yet now we’re in grand dwarven halls and we’re given the chance to fully enjoy them.
The colour tones were also great for this issue, switching up between scenes. We see more warm and golden tones while they shop, a calmer green tone when they rest, and cooler blue tones when the orcs are in moments of contemplation or personal insight. The colour just makes it easy for the reader to get a sense of the scene without any extra information needed.
ORCS! #5 Conclusion
ORCS! is headed for a climax as all the points that we’ve been following appear to be coming together in some way. It seems clear that our orc heroes are about to face something that will completely change their place in the Known World and the path they’re on, and it seems clear that if you’ve been with the series thus far that it only makes sense to see exactly where this is all headed.
If you haven’t read any of the series yet, it seems odd to read a review for the fifth issue but I can only suggest that you do what you can to enjoy this series from the start because it has most certainly been worth it so far.