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REVIEW: ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2 – BOOM! Studios

orcs the curse 1 2

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ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2 bring us back into the fantasy world of ORCS! as our band of lovable orcs face strange new threats. Larsen comes back with all the humour and charm of the first ORCS!. The limited series is written and illustrated by Christine Larsen.

The Details

  • Written by Christine Larsen
  • Art by Christine Larsen
  • Lettering by Christine Larsen

ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2 are available for purchase from Boom! Studios, and is available in stores from June 8, 2022 for #1 and July 27, 2022 for #2.

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ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2 Story

Larsen brings us back into this rather crazy fantasy world in perhaps the only way that makes sense, with an evil wizard and an orc dance party. This is honestly the best way to dip back into the Known World, as it is not only fun but truly chaotic. It is a true representation of the orcs and how they live. They are wild and truly just want to enjoy themselves whenever they can.

The first issue also does a great job re-introducing the characters, something I look for whenever a new volume or even just storyline starts. Not only should new readers be able to quickly learn what they need, but returning readers should also have a nice refresher. This just helps with pacing, since the readers shouldn’t have to stop to remind themselves of who anyone is. We get the orc names alongside their distinctive looks and it is easy to know who is doing what.

The ‘Great Wizard of the Obsidian Tower’ always gives us some surprising world-building in terms of the power and social dynamics of the world. What is perhaps my favourite detail is that the orcs have been taken advantage of before by the powerful, and so now only hire out to those that enter into a contract with them. They know their worth and refuse to take less, and they certainly do not take favourably to those who consider themselves entitled to their service.

We are also introduced to a race of crow people that serve the wizard, and quickly learn that they were made to serve him. There are some interesting dynamics here as some of these people feel they owe the wizard for gaining full sentience, while others resent knowing of their own servitude.

The end of the first issue gives us a battle that oddly, though in a good way, reflects the final climax of the first volume of ORCS! as they fight against a chaotic monstrosity. Whether intentional or not, the similarities between the two fights suggest to me the idea that now the threats are bigger than before, that greater dangers await our band of orcs.

Issue 2 takes us back into the adventures of the orc hero Drod and the party that has gathered, in one way or another, around her. It is so much fun to see these characters again and learn more about the world of ORCS! through them. The stories themselves, and Drod’s actions that make her a hero to the orcs, help explain much of how the orcs see themselves. I truly live for these insights into orc culture.

Now, in reviews for the original volume of ORCS! I made numerous remarks about how Larsen clearly has a good knowledge of DnD or related TTRPGs and how it shows through the story. Since then Larsen has commented on Twitter that she finds it funny so many reviewers assume she has DnD knowledge since the truth is that she knows almost nothing and has certainly never played.

If she hadn’t said so I would still assume she did, since this Drod story once again gives me very strong DnD vibes, even if only from Drod jumping into a bad situation while the others even encourage or watch on in horror. Even if Larsen has no DnD background, this is definitely a strength of the story as it would be very easy for players to relate and invest in the story due to these, evidently, accidental similarities.

The rest of this second issue largely follows some magical hijinks as Pez tricks Bog into drinking some random potion the Witch brewed up, which sends every woman that smells his farts into a state of obsession. It’s a fun story that also helps prepare the story ahead as we get to explore more of the Witch and the things she does for the tribe, especially as she takes Utzu to help cast some protection spells.

We definitely start to get the sense that our orcs might be facing something more than they can handle. Magic does not seem to be something they can so easily fight with fist and club and blade, their strength alone may not be enough to save them. With more magical trouble on the horizon, our orcs may be in some real danger.

It’s really just great fun to be back with the orcs and their hijinks. They’re great characters that don’t have to work hard to make you like them, or even make you relate to them. ORCS! remains just a joyfully good read, even into this new volume.

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ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2 Art

Larsen’s art continues to be fantastically expressive, managing impressively to never pass the point where they become too over-the-top to maintain their emotional truth (for lack of a better term). The orcs are expressive, greatly so, but they still feel true to the emotion they’re expressing. None of it feels forced or overplayed.

I am particularly fond of the design of the crow people. It’s fairly simple but just works so well. Talking about expressions again, Larsen manages to make them fully expressive without ever making you doubt that they are birds. They walk that fine line between realism and stylisation which means they never feel completely detached from reality, yet are still able to have the character they need.

The monstrosity the orcs battle at the end of the first issue is also pretty impressive visually. A mass of chaos that is almost amorphous yet retains a sense of power and threat about it. It is especially eery in the way that it retains hints at the nature of its creation, which adds an extra layer of horror and gloom to the fight.

But no matter what there’s always just a fun nature to the art. It’s an actual joy to look at. This is art and story going hand-in-hand, it works so well for what the comic is. It certainly helps when writer and illustrator are one and the same, but this is what comics should be. There should never be any feeling of conflict between the story and the art. In ORCS!: The Curse they both work to tell the same story, in the same way.

Check Out ORCS!: The Curse #1 & #2

If you’re eager for some orc fun, then you can inquire at your local comic shop about a physical copy. Issue #1 is available from June 8, 2022 and issue #2 from July 27, 2022.

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