Monday, June 16, 2014

Burn The Orphanage, Volume One: Born To Lose

 If you REALLY loved old 1980's console side-scrolling video games, this is the comic for you.

 The rest of you can probably take a pass.

 I have no idea what possessed creators Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace to do a book like BURN THE ORPHANAGE, but for an old fart like me, who fondly remembers such classic games as STREETS OF RAGE, STREET FIGHTER II, DOUBLE DRAGON, and MORTAL KOMBAT, this seemed like a no-brainer.

 The "no-brainer" part was correct, because this is, intentionally or not, one of the dumbest books I've ever read. The story, for what it's worth, revolves around Rock, a bandana-clad loner who is still, a decade or so too late, looking for the rotten so-and-so that burned down the orphanage he grew up in. He's joined in this violent quest by his hulking friend Bear and Lex, a cute but violent female ass-kicker. The first portion of BURN THE ORPHANAGE, VOLUME ONE: BORN TO LOSE sees Rock and company finding, and dispatching, the orphanage-burner, in a side-scrolling battle that is torn right from Sega's epic STREETS OF RAGE game. From there, the book takes a bizarre turn into MORTAL KOMBAT territory, as Rock is abducted and forced to fight in an other-dimensional death-match tournament against brutal aliens and other assorted creatures. This is where my attention was briefly engaged. I've never wanted to see anyone, about to be on the receiving end of a Zangief-like spinning piledriver from a goat-headed Luchador, clamp down and bite off their whole package, twig and berries alike, RIGHT THROUGH THE ESTRETCHY PANTS, but, having now seen it, I can say that it's the kind of thing that gets one's attention in a big way. The giant "PTOO!" as Rock spits out the goat-man junk is just an added bonus.

 Unfortunately, the book returns to demented mediocrity as soon as the MORTAL KOMBAT interlude wraps up, and the book ends with a truly strange trip to another alien world that channels SONIC THE HEDGEHOG and SUPER MARION BROS. Like I said, this is weird stuff, but it's not engagingly weird, it's just weird-trying-to-evoke-nostalgia weird. Didn't work for me.

 The art, by Sina Grace, is sketchy and off-putting...it reminded me of Michael Avon Oeming with some kind of Palsy that caused him to twitch uncontrollably while he was drawing, if that gives you any kind of visual.
BURN THE ORPHANAGE, VOLUME ONE: BORN TO LOSE is kind of a one-joke story that doesn't know when the joke is over.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.