By: James Stokoe (writer, artist, colorist & one would assume letters, although it doesn’t say that)

The Story: One-Eye the orc finds himself captured by agents of the Orctzar, but why does the Orctzar want to capture our hero?

What’s Good: This is a really fun comic and whenever it releases, it is always among the “best comics of the week”.  This issue is no exception.  There is really nothing wrong with this issue or anything to find fault with.

As you can see from the credits above, Jame Stokoe is doing this entire comic himself and each issue has been ~30 pages long.  So, you would not really expect him to maintain a perfect, monthly release schedule (although it comes out more regularly than some other comics that have 4-5 dudes working on them).  But, Stokoe does what all comics should: It give us a quick, two paragraph recap of the story so far.  Why can’t all comics do this?  Not only did this recap serve as a reminder of what happened in issue #4, but it gave a nice recap of the main plot of the book.  Nicely done…

As for the story, Orc Stain = Fun.  The story is just delightful and off-the-wall as we watch One-Eye trying to evade the forces of the Orctzar and the designed traps that they lay for him.  One of the fun things is that One-Eye seems to have about 50 IQ points on all the other orcs and is almost annoyed by their feeble attempts to slow him down.  It almost has a Roadrunner/Coyote feel to it.  Again, much of the humor of the book comes from the word “gronch”, which is orcish for an orc’s junk.  In this issue we learn that one reason orcs are so eager to chop off another orc’s gronch is that it can then be spent like money.  Ha.

The art design in this book is just outstanding.  It would be nice to know a little more about Stokoe’s background because he has a wonderful imagination.  Everything in this world is alive.  The sexy swamp ramba’s (read: witch) cloak isn’t just an animal skin…it is a live animal with bulging eyes that mutters to her constantly about its desire to murder all of the orcs by smashing them.  The prison that One-Eye is trapped in is actually the belly of some enormous beast that the Orctzar had his minions excavate from the mountains.  The art is just delightful and vibrant.  There isn’t another comic that has this look and color palate.  It’s great stuff.

It is also appropriate to give a tip of the cap to the comic itself.  Orc Stain is always printed on nice, heavy paper stock.  Image pretty much leaves these decisions up to the creator, so we can toss another kudo towards Stokoe for having a lot of pride in his work and wanting to see it well represented on the page.

What’s Not So Good: Nothing really.  A typical complaint would be that it is hard to keep track of the narrative of these creator-driven, original stories (because their stories don’t swirl in constant, easy-to-remember circles like mainstream superhero titles), but Stokoe avoids all of that with a recap paragraph.

Conclusion: Unless you simply cannot be bothered to read anything that doesn’t have men and women covered in skin-tight spandex, you should check out Orc Stain.  It is among the best comics put out by any publisher.

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell