On her master’s final orders, Orphan has tracked down the first of the titular five beasts, a dreaded bandit leader known as Thunderthighs. Formerly a hero, the gangster is now a force of destruction who rules the valley with his massive, indestructible legs and ‘Two Trees Bearing Heaven’ fighting style.
James Stokoe backtracks just a little in the opening pages of Orphan and the Five Beasts #2, so that we can get some more background on the first boss. Orphan Mo’s master tells her that, of the five, none were more dedicated or tireless than Thunderthighs. I do wonder, if this guy is the baddest, why he’s up first on the dance card.
I think this style lines up roughly with Toad from Five Deadly Venoms, and I’m fairly certain it was the fifth style? Don’t quote me on that. It’s been a minute. Toad is the first to eat it, though, so I guess that tracks.
Most of the dialogue in this chapter is the puffed up posturing of a bully who’s bought into his own bullshit, which is perfect. Thunderthighs underestimates Mo, and is so caught up in his monologue, he makes a few costly errors.
Nobody bought this for the dialogue, though, did they? The action scene, which takes up 90% of this installment, is amazing. Stokoe is in rare form. I mentioned the depth of detail in my review of the first book. The exploding veins, the drops of sweat and blood, flyaway hairs, sweaty pit stains, and holes in fabric…
All of that beauty is in motion in chapter two, and the fight is something to behold. The action is quick and dirty, and there’s even a false finish before Mo goes over in the most gloriously violent way possible.
If this is only the first level, things are about to get ridiculous in chapter three. Four beasts and only two chapters remain. Do the math.
Orphan and the Five Beasts #2, Dark Horse Comics, 21 April 2021. Script, art, letters, and cover by James Stokoe.
Business is about to pick up in Stokoe’s Kung-Fu epic hero’s journey. A violent, graphic feast for the eyes. This is exactly what I signed up for.