Arts & Entertainment, Books

‘Orcs in Space’ is bloody cute

Fantastical bloodthirsty main characters? Check. High-speed space-chases? Check. Modesty? Not quite. Orcs in Space, Justin Roiland’s new graphic novel published by Oni Press, features 100 pages of amusing, carefree adventures in an uncanny outer space backdrop, all illustrated by Montreal-based artist François Vigneault

Slated to be the first volume of many, Orcs in Space follows three goblin ruffians who, by a stroke of luck, obtain access to the galaxy’s most technologically advanced spaceship and its A.I. operator—who eventually becomes their close companion and confidant. Gor, Kravis, and Mongtar are not afraid to spill blood—and other fluids—on the run in this brash but comedic space odyssey. Alongside these non-traditional heroines stands an array of enemies and allies as diverse as the stars in the sky. Cyborgs, pirates, and tentacled seductresses beware. 

Vigneault’s illustrations leap from the page. Loaded with vibrant hues, his cartoony style soaks the novel’s characters and settings in gaudy, unmoderated detail. Such creativity reigns without restraint throughout Orcs in Space: Every scene, whether it be a bar fight at “the hippest club in the galaxy,” or a laser-blaster shootout with “Space Rats,” presents a smörgåsbord of details that keep the reader engaged and amused. 

Orcs in Space secures the reader’s laughter as if holding a knife to their throats. Each protagonist—one little, one big, and one extremely bloodthirsty—fills a different conversational niche, keeping the plot animated and humorous. Ironic and self-referential Gen-Z comedy bleeds into the realm of the uncanny and bizarre; zany and avant-garde plot twists remind the reader that the story is, literally, out of this world. Jokes leave the reader constantly gasping for breath.

Just as the story takes place in many weightless environments, Orcs in Space makes no claims of having gravitas. Its tight plot and eccentric graphics provide a purely fun and brazen read that will have the reader turning pages at light speed to see the next dismemberment. However, the narrative’s easygoing atmosphere does not override artistic integrity; on the contrary, it bolsters it. The novel presents aesthetics, characterization, and plot development with expertise. Readers may be just going for a joyride, but they should still buckle their seatbelts. 

Volume two of Orcs in Space is currently slated for a February 2022 release. Vigneault’s other works include Titan (2020) and 13e Avenue (2018).

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