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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Orchid caused my love of Graphic Novels to bloom!, 17 Mar 2004
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
I am not a DC comic fan or collector, so please bear with me in giving you this review from a non-comic owner perspective.
While not a follower of the comics, I do love Neil Gaiman. This is the story of how Black Orchid comes to life and seeks out a meaning for, literally, the life given to her. She wants answers to the questions "Who am I? Why am I here?" and is desperate to find a place that she will belong.
Her tale is told with cameo appearances by Batman, Swamp Thing, and Poison Ivy; and you should not miss the nightmarish visit to the Arkham Asylum where a skeletal, sleepless man spills his nightmares on the floor, and the x-ray man weeps burning tears onto the floor.
She awakens as the Black Orchid in the greenhouse at Dr. Phillip Sylvian, with the memories of a woman named Susan Linden. Phil tells her about a little of her background, and tells her of those who he went to college with, without whom she would not be alive; Dr. Jason Woodrue, Pamela Isley and Alec Holland.
But before he can reveal everything to her, Phil is killed and the Black Orchid is on her own. Her ex husband Carl Thorne finds out about her plant-reincarnation, and makes a visit to her, killing all but one of the smaller plants that Phil has been nurturing. Black Orchid takes the little one with her, "Suzy", to Gotham city where a tip from a friend sends her off along to Arkham Asylum to speak with Poison Ivy. Suzy is snatched by Lexcorp, but after a quick visit with Swamp Thing, Black Orchid rescues Suzy and they fly off to the Amazon Rainforest where Black Orchid can plant her seeds.
But there are still those who hunt her down; her ex husband who is trying to kill her again, and the Lexcorp minions sent into the rainforest to bring her back alive so that she can be dissected. What a girl...er...plant, to do?
Brief comic strip type prose does not stop Gaiman from bringing to life a fully fleshed out story, and the artwork of Dave McKean is to be applauded. Moving from shades of gray to brilliantly splashed pages of vibrant color, he paints brutality, horror, and the sereneness of nature in the same ethereal fashion. This is an excellent choice for those who are just starting to dip their toes and get their feet wet in the world of Graphic Novels. Enjoy!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great., 28 Dec 2000
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
The other reviewer comments purely on Dave McKeans brilliant art. This was (I think) before he went on to draw Arkham Asylum and is in a very different style. The colouring is interesting, apart from the heroine who is purple, every human character is in black and white against gloriously coloured backgrounds, very odd, but what we'd expect of Dave McKean. Now onto Neil Gaiman's story. It actually begins with the death of the character Black Orchid in a brilliant take on the usual superhero style dilema. "I know the bad guy usually takes the time to explain his plans in great detail around now, but I'm not. I'm going to kill you. Right now" or similar (I've not got the book in front of me). And he does. the rest of the book follows a new-born Black Orchid, a plant woman who is still a child, but has memories of the other one who just died. She goes on a journey to discover who she is, and along the way bumps briefly into Batman, and makes a trip to Arkham Asylum to meet up with Poison Ivy. She makes enemies who want to kill her. Neil Gaiman, in the introduction, says that when the finale came out originally, (part 3) people were asking when part four was due. There is a rather suddenness to the ending, but it is also the last thing you would expect to happen in what might be seen to be a (shock) super-hero story. Neil Gaiman does it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something a little different, 25 Sep 2012
By 
This review is from: Black Orchid - Deluxe (Hardcover)
Neil Gaiman's graphic novels have consistently redefined the comic book genre, from his fantastic sandman right through to this lesser known work, Black Orchid. The first impression on opening the book is the artwork by Dave McKean. It is absolutely amazing, it takes realism to a whole new level. Anyone familiar with Neil's work has no doubt come across Dave's artwork before, which usually takes the form of quite surreal imagery which is quite unlike anything else I've ever come across. This is unrecognisable as his artwork, and he really shows off his artistic ability in this novel. It is at times breathtaking

Then we get onto the story itself. It doesn't take long before Neil has drawn you into this comic book world, with a difference. Almost straight away we have the villian holding the hero prisoner. But here there is no monologuing whilst the hero figures out a way to escape and save the day. No, quite the opposite in fact. I don't want to spoil the introduction for anyone with what actually happens, all I will say is that right away the reader is confronted with a twist they don't see coming, which really sets the scene for what is still to come in this tale.

Interspersed throughout the novel are familiar comic book characters, most notably Lex Luther. I suspect there were a lot of references and characters that were above my head, not being overly familiar with comic's from that era (In my defence this was originally released the year after I was born) however I don't think no prior knowledge detracts from the story, it's enough to know that Lex Luther is a villian. Indeed, if you didn't know it wouldn't take a genius to figure it out. And any extra knowledge would only seek to enhance your enjoyment of the story.

This was originally released in three installments. After I finished the novel my first thought was were's the next part? I have since read that this was a common thought after finishing the third installment, many readers eagerly awaited the fourth, but were to be disappointed. In another move which bucked the trend in comic books the heroine, Susan, didn't seek revenge for an early on act of violence. Which is where the story appeared to be heading. But after having a little bit of time to think about the work as a whole, and let its impact sink in, I realised that this was intentional. It wasn't a tale of revenge, in fact it was quite the opposite.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes comics, or indeed those who don't but are fans of Neil Gaiman, in fact I would even go as far as to say I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well told story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Neil gaiman is a great storyteller, 21 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
Loved this as I love all his other writing. If you're a fan u won't be disappointed. Still thinking about this story.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 29 May 2013
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This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
I ordered this book and it arrived in a condition exactly described by the seller. It made a wonderful early birthday present for my friend. The illustrations are gorgeous and I feel fortunate to have found such an early edition of this book.
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0 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark as Arkham Asylum..., 27 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Orchid (Paperback)
Arkham Asylum has best graphic language by McKean but Black Orchid has another taste a little bit. Not much exciting but specific...
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Black Orchid Deluxe Edition HC
Black Orchid Deluxe Edition HC by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover - 25 April 2012)
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