Dick Foreman

Black Orchid 4 (December 1993)

3505This issue, with all its magic, ought to work. It’s about water nymphs and forest spirits and all sorts of earth magic and it just doesn’t work. The problem is Foreman and Thompson are too literal. Thompson even paints a full page but it doesn’t help.

Foreman opens with his dumb freelance reporter from the first issue, who doesn’t do anything but bookend the story. Then Sherilyn, the hooker with the heart of gold, considers leaving Black Orchid–who’s passed out most of the issue–and go back to the real world.

Throw in a rich Greek expat with a mansion in Tennessee and a sad flashback about his romance with a water nymph and there’s nothing else to the comic. Foreman’s coy about resolving the previous series; he’s also slacking on developing Black Orchid as a character.

Thompson’s handling of the lengthy flashback is charmless.

Orchid continues to underwhelm.

CREDITS

Acts of Faith; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Jill Thompson; inker, Stan Woch; colorists, George Freeman and Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg and Lou Stathis; publisher, Vertigo.

Black Orchid 3 (November 1993)

3504Bill and Ted guest star this issue. Thankfully, Foreman only gives them a few pages. Reading his dialogue for stoners, one might guess Foreman has never gotten stoned, much less tripped.

But besides them–and the lame narration from Black Orchid’s call girl friend–it’s the best issue so far. It’s not good, as Foreman comes up with a crisis then resolves it without explaining the crisis or the resolution, but it’s better than what he was doing before.

Oddly, it’s the worst issue for the art. Thompson is a boring action artist and the setting–a forest of fungus–isn’t the most interesting in her style either. She never gets trippy, which might have helped. It’s just a lot of Black Orchid and Sherilyn (the hooker) walking around.

Foreman also hasn’t done much to define Orchid, except as a liar and manipulator. Still, the hooker isn’t likable either.

Eh.

CREDITS

The Tainted Zone; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Jill Thompson; inker, Stan Woch; colorist, Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg and Lou Stathis; publisher, Vertigo.

Black Orchid 2 (October 1993)

3503If so inclined, one could admire Foreman’s commitment with the second issue. He takes everything bad about the first issue and enhances it. Except maybe the bad narrator.

Instead, he has a bunch of villainous military industrial guys who talk a lot. No pop culture reference, which is both a surprise and maybe Foreman’s best move as a writer, but their dialogue is awful. And there’s lots of it.

There’s also a strange sequence where Black Orchid’s working girl friend is identified on the street as a working girl by some toughs. Only she’s not wearing anything provocative; it’s like Thompson refused to play into Foreman’s weak plot choice.

Black Orchid’s presence brings the comic’s only pulse. Thompson and Woch draw her better than anyone else and the mystical realism aspect is neat. Foreman doesn’t go for that angle, however; he’s committed to doing a realistic superhero comic.

He’s not.

CREDITS

Black Orchid; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Jill Thompson; inker, Stan Woch; colorist, Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg, Tom Peyer and Lou Stathis; publisher, Vertigo.

Black Orchid 1 (September 1993)

3502Weird comic. Especially for a first issue. Dick Foreman’s narrative choices don’t help it much either. He makes Black Orchid the subject of the issue, not a player. She’s an urban legend and so on; Foreman’s got a lame investigative reporter narrating and trying to find her.

There’s a lot about how great it is to drink coffee in the narration. Probably two or three hundred words. It’s sort of uncomfortable to read, it feels so amateurish and I’ve liked Foreman’s writing before.

The Jill Thompson pencils (with Stan Woch inking) are cool, but they don’t really make the issue worth it until the finish. When Black Orchid finally does have a scene, Thompson and Woch do wonders. Before her arrival, it’s just an interesting looking comic. The style’s not quite mainstream, but going for it.

For a first issue of an ongoing series, Foreman fumbles big time. Big time.

CREDITS

Sightings; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Jill Thompson; inker, Stan Woch; colorist, Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg and Tom Peyer; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 139 (January 1994)

16109Foreman relies heavily on dumb pop psychology to “cure” Alec, but Rebecca Guay on pencils and DeMulder on inks make up for some of it. Black Orchid and her sidekick guest star, traveling through Alec’s mind (literally… he’s turned it into a plant art installation in the swamp).

There’s some really bad dialogue and some strange ideas Foreman never really explores (why does Alec’s superego parrot Superman’s truth and justice ideals). It does read somewhat slow, but the art’s fantastic at the beginning so only the end is sludgy.

Literally nothing is resolved from the previous issue. Alec has just shut down, which probably wouldn’t be allowed since he’s got to protect the Green. Having a Black Orchid tie-in doesn’t fit the story at all. Foreman doesn’t dwell on the dumber leftovers of Collins’s run, however.

It’s not a good comic, but Guay’s great and Foreman’s ambitions aren’t trite.

CREDITS

The Mind Fields, Part Two; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Rebecca Guay; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Black Orchid 5 (January 1994)

3506Oh, good grief. This issue ties in to Swamp Thing, with Black Orchid and Sherilyn the hooker with a heart of gold heading to Louisiana. Black Orchid, it turns out, is a Swamp Thing expert and thinks she can help him through his relationship troubles.

Foreman doesn’t even try to explain how Black Orchid knows so much about Swampy. Maybe she’s been reading the comics.

But until the lame walk through the swamp mind of Swamp Thing (he’s physically creating his thoughts out of plants), Foreman has Sherilyn narrating the issue. Except, however, when he opens it with his idiotic reporter guy.

The reporter falls victim to a laughing fit; a Joker cameo, unfortunately, does not materialize.

Thompson and Woch do okay in the swamp, but all the human scenes–Foreman centers on Sherilyn–are rather rough going. The artists being bored with the writing is never a good sign.

CREDITS

The Mind Fields, Part One; writer, Dick Foreman; pencillers, Jill Thompson and Rebecca Guay; inker, Stan Woch; colorists, George Freeman and Digital Chameleon; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Julie Rottenberg and Lou Stathis; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 126 (December 1992)

16096Dick Foreman coming in to do a guest writing spot gives Swamp Thing the break it needs. Even Eaton does a little better, since he’s not drawing people as much as grandiose cosmic events. Though he does take the chance to mess up Linda Holland.

Alec stalks a cartoonist he used to read–or Alec Holland used to read–and gets him stoned in hopes of inspiring him. That Swamp Thing would take the time to do such a thing is out of character for what Collins is doing, but who cares. A book needs something different occasionally and Foreman provides it.

The only time he loses track is when he has Alec explain the cartoonist’s place in the universe. It’s a real “show, don’t tell” moment; Foreman botches it. Can’t rightly blame Eaton.

Still, the rest is good–and the finish is great. It’s a rather successful fill-in.

CREDITS

The Big Picture; writer, Dick Foreman; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 116 (February 1992)

16086Guest writer Dick Foreman tries a little hard to be precious, but the issue’s still a success.

Foreman and Shawn McManus tell a traditional boys’ story. A kid with a crappy, absentee father discovers a Swamp Thing body and plants a still living tuber. The tuber grows into something magical–Foreman doesn’t mention it, but the anthromorphized plant inards suggest it’s too old a corpse… from pre-Alan Moore.

But Foreman’s not going for continuity, he’s going for a solid little story. McManus helps a lot with it, making the mom likable just through that sad but happy McManus face. And the kid’s sidekick is a lot of fun in his few pages.

Then the dad gets home and the story takes some predictable turns and some unexpected ones. The end should be better but Foreman tries to hard.

It’s still excellent stuff. Especially for Swamp Thing without Swamp Thing.

CREDITS

The Growing Season; writer, Dick Foreman; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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