I have read a lot about this graphic novel over the years, and finally picked it up while travelling in a city with a comic book shop. I love Neil Gaiman, I love Dave McKean, but I just did not love this book.
I did not know very much about this one prior to buying it, and I actually really loved the beginning of the book. We are introduced to a conference room full of villains, and one of them is gradually revealed to be the Black Orchid. She is a crime fighter with some interesting powers, and the whole scene is quite mysterious and intense. Black Orchid seems to have been killed by the end of that scene, and it seems like the kind of thing that would take, although the reader knows the series namesake can’t be gone for the entirety of the book’s run. It was a very strong opening, shocking and intriguing.
After that great opening, the story seems to get convoluted and a big vague. It felt experimental, with a few really strong vignettes accompanied by an attempt to try and slot in some characters from other series (eg. Lex Luthor, Swamp Thing). I did not have any strong feelings about any of the characters, despite the story being quite sad overall. The art is quite lovely, and I enjoyed the addendum of the notes from the editorial staff about the original story proposal. It certainly wasn’t a terrible book, but I had high expectations, and was a bit disappointed.