As the end of the world draws closer, there’s no shortage of post-apocalyptic tales. In Orphan Age, we don’t really know how we reached this dystopia, just that one day every single adult suddenly died, leaving behind only the planets children. Fast forward 20 years and those children are all grown up. That’s where Ted Anderson and Nuno Plati’s series kicks off.
After the New Church ran roughshod through Dallastown, a trio of survivors — Princess, Daniel, and Willa — set out on a path to Albany following an unknown plan created by Princess and her father Brian, the mayor of Dallastown. A plan that will lead them across the United States, encountering a sampling of the different cultures that have established themselves.
The inevitable showdown with the New Church feels like it’s intended to be a slow burn, so the brief altercation at the end of the volume feels like a strange moment to end on. The focus for this entire volume seems to be world building, and in the case of a post-apocalyptic tale that makes perfect sense, but due to the almost sudden ending to the book it feels as though too much exploration is missing.
The New Church are prominent but mysterious antagonists, and their sudden arrival at the end of issue #4 means that we haven’t really learned much about who they actually are…but the same can also be said for most of the characters within this volume. Daniel, Willa and Princess serve as an interesting mix of protagonists, and although we start to learn more about Daniel when the story reaches Albany, it does feel like there’s still a lot to learn about Willa and Princess.
I feel like the greatest strength of Orphan Age is Nuno Plati’s artwork. Lurking somewhere between modern Archie and late ’90s Cartoon Network, it’s a style that you might not expect to accompany this kind of story, but it works wonderfully throughout this volume. It feels all the more poignant when taking into consideration the cartoonish style in a comic about a world without grownups. Plati’s character designs vary greatly and everyone feels like an individual within the story.
Although I appreciate that the journey within Orphan Age is what really matters, I think the lack of answers becomes frustrating, and I would like to think that further volumes would serve to answer some of these questions. Moreover, I do find the culmination of this volume to be even more frustrating — simply put, there just isn’t an ending. At the conclusion of these five issues, the narrative simply ceases to continue. If that’s a cliffhanger I think that’s completely fine, but it doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger, rather more like an unintended ending to a story that’s far from finished.