Monday, February 1, 2016

Burn The Orphanage

Wow, looking at that title, I really hope nobody's taking anything I name these articles as calls to action.

I was a big fan of side-scrolling beat-em-ups for ages on video games.  Probably the game I go back to the most to play when I just want to kill time is the Streets of Rage series.  Considering how much I require most games I play these days to have a coherent story, it's rather interesting that one of my favorites will frequently have me playing as a boxing kangaroo punching out a rampaging bulldozer.

There aren't a lot of things in today's culture that take any cues from that genre of game, aside from some films like The Raid: Redemption.  I felt that Dredd was a fair approximation, since it essentially was just a few people fighting their way from one location to another with various small "boss battles" in between.

But there are not many comics that truly embrace the old style of video games, which is why I was so excited to discover Burn the Orphanage, a comic that is definitely not for kids, but so much fun to read if you had the kind of childhood that involved the aforementioned styles of games.


Here's all the plot you need: when he was ten years old, Rock watched the orphanage around him burn down.  Now as an adult he's beating up every single criminal he and his friends Lex and Bear find until he finds out the truth about what happened that day.

Short, succinct, and able to lead into everything from fighting evil corporate overlords to lowly street gangs, the three characters somehow manage to get some decent character development in between massive brawls (I particularly enjoyed a conversation between Lex and Bear comparing their love lives, Lex beats up her boyfriend for having the "nerve" to say he loves her, while Bear is constantly having his heart broken but finding new love almost immediately)..

The story continues past the first miniseries into a quasi-solo story for Rock as he branch into other video game stereotypes for a while, namely the "human who has to fight his way across an alien world" started with stories like John Carter of Mars (and probably even before that, just with the realms of Gods instead of other worlds), it came into video games so developers could still have a "human" protagonist but let their imaginations design strange and unusual worlds for them to explore.  The other major plot is the "otherworldly tournament" from such games as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.

So, once you've had gangs and alien worlds, where do you go from there?


Well, of course you do, because who doesn't want to see people punch out robots?

The story isn't going to win any major writing awards, but the artwork is engaging and the fight scenes are exciting to read (it's possible the artist copied some images from other video game-based comics, but having not talked directly to the artist, I don't know if it's coincidence, homage, or simply really liking something and copying it).  The characters have some classic "archetype" personalities (kind but tough big guy, rough back story protagonist, "the angry chick") and don't really try to flesh out much further than that at first, but eventually do grow and develop enough that you could start to try to cast them in your head for a movie adaptation.

Fun to read if you have a deep love of classic video game ideas and an appreciation for the basic beats every game seemed to hit when they came out (such as generic blond protagonists), Burn the Orphanage is...well, it's just fun, really.  What more reason do you need to read something?

1 comment:

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