Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrations: Dave McKean
Published: February 1988
Black Orchid is a story about rebirth, self discovery, greed and redemption. Set in the late 1980s Metropolis, Black Orchid is the story of a Susan Linden who takes on a new life as a plant-human hybrid following her death. Her killer, connected to one of the city’s local crime rings, thinks he has nothing to worry about. As Susan slowly begins to learn about her past and what her future holds, she must continually adapt to the information that is given to her, often putting her in new and unexpected roles. As Susan is finding herself, we are glimpsed with some of Metropolis’s most recognizable super heroes (and villains). While Susan begins to adapt to her new part plant part human body, she finds that her new abilities can help her resolve her past issues, leading her to a more enlightened state of being.
Originally published in serial format, Black Orchid set out to change the way we think of the hero/villain dynamic that is at the core of graphic novels. Through Susan’s story, we see that the standard super hero defeats villain story structure is not required to bring triumph and resolution to a hero’s story.
Beautifully illustrated in vibrant, memorable colors with fine attention to detail in each panel, the story feels more like a vivid dream than a graphic novel. This is a graphic novel for anyone who wants to see the power of illustration and text unfold before them.