Monday 13 February 2012

Orcs: Forged for War, by Stan Nicholls and Joe Flood – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Two sets of humans are at war: the monotheist Unis, waging a “crusade against the vermin that infest this land”, and the pantheist Manis, who have allied themselves with the fantastical races. The orcs of the title are a band of brothers (and one sister) fighting for the Manis: the Wolverines. Whichever set of humans win, the magical races know their time is limited. The Wolverines are orcs (and one dwarf) on a mission, Dirty Dozen-style. Having successfully blown up a bridge (or rather, dissolved one of its legs with a magical potion to make it collapse), they are sent by merciless witch queen Jennesta (who for some reason we get to see topless) on an escort mission, taking goblin sorcerer Eegett-Qinx on the road to test a powerful new weapon.

Although the art style is cartoonish, there is lots of nicely vicious action. The orcs look very similar, but if you can’t always tell who they are by looking, you can from their dialogue. The language is often fruity: Haskeer describes goblins as “two-faced little pricks”, and describes their mission as “to babysit a bunch a fucking goblins in charge of a fucking weapon we don’t know about, under orders that ain’t fucking clear”. So, not suitable for children, but I enjoyed it. I hadn’t read the novels the comic is based on, erroneously (if they’re anything like this) thinking them Pratchett-style comedies, but am now quite keen to give them a try. One can’t help rooting for these orcs, even when they are smiling at the scent of roasted human flesh, or chomping on fairies.

Orcs: Forged for War, by Stan Nicholls and Joe Flood (First Second, tpb, 208pp).

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