REVIEW: ‘Burn the Orphanage: Reign of Terror’ #1

(Image Comics, 2014)

Written by Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman
Art by Sina Grace
Colors by Renee Keyes
Letters by Rus Wooton

The films I love from the 80’s can be listed single-spaced on ten or twelve sheets of college-lined paper.  Alphabetized and organized by year and release date, these films wander through genres as easily as I do through by back yard.  Slasher films (oh 80’s, you sure knew how to kill a bunch of sexed-up teenagers), monster films (Jaws, Jaws, always Jaws), science fiction (Terminator, Predator, Aliens…oh my), and the ever-popular teen comedramas…(“you mess with the bull…”).  Some hold up, some not so much, but they all have a special place in my heart because they evoke for me that feeling of being a kid and seeing someone say “F*@k you” to someone in authority.  (Despite my undying love for Red Dawn…boy…it’s a long movie.)

This was the same feeling I got from reading Burn the Orphanage.

If the character design weren’t the first tip-off, the feeling would still be the same after a few minutes.  Rock, our protagonist, has just returned to Earth after being drugged by one of his former allies.  He arrives in a denim vest with ripped sleeves and a red headband, (Wolverines!) just in time to join his friends in a fight against the Manncorp robots that are keeping the city in a martial law lockdown.  Rock now has to find his way through the sordid mess that has become the city, and try to find out who his friends and enemies are.

I had never heard of this title before, though after some quick and easy research (thank the internet for stuff like this) I see that Burn The Orphanage originally came out in 2013 as a three-issue mini-series.  In this new series, writers Sina Grace (Walking Dead (ed.), Li’l Depressed Boy) and Daniel Freedman (Secret Avengers, Daredevil Noir) take us back to a troubled Earth in the near future.

The art evokes films like Red Dawn, from the wacky 80’s type styles to the robot enforcers; everything feels like a John Milius film, which is great for my sense of nostalgia.  Can this hold up for a modern audience?  Perhaps someone who didn’t grow up in the ever lovin’ 80’s?  I think so.  There is enough intrigue built into the plot, enough tension and mystery to keep anyone involved, enough robot destruction to keep even the most avid fan interested.  And the great thing about the comics is that you aren’t limited to 80’s tech and effects.

Burn the Orphanage is an 80’s movie.  It’s Red Dawn and Terminator, Double Dragon and Bruce Springsteen.  If you have a fondness for this stuff, than Reign of Terror is a great place to jump in.  Nostalgia can certainly fuel a comic, but it’s the talent of creators like Grace and Freedman that keeps it going, making it a good comic in it’s own right.



Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.

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