Protocol: Orphans from BOOM! Studios is a tense thriller ideal for fans of fun spy fiction like TV’s Alias or Mission: Impossible. I enjoyed the second issue of this limited series quite a lot!
Here’s how the series kicked off: “Grabbed up by the United States government and thrown into training camps, orphans around the country have been raised to become America’s next generation of superspies. Now, as adults, they live among us, ready for ‘the family’ to call them back into action.”
And here’s the description of the second issue: “Being a member of this family means a lifetime of death, danger, changed identities and buried memories. After the mysterious murder of a fellow orphan, our agents are thrust head first into another mission. On the tail of the high society funders of the terrorist-operation Black Friday, our agents are further from the truth then they could ever imagine.”
I’ve long felt that Michael Alan Nelson is the most underrated writer in comics today. He make the characters in his stories “breathe” so deeply that I often forget that they’re actually fictional people on paper!
Not only that, but he integrates those characters into a tale that I often have to remind myself that this was written as a script. It feels so real to me!
Mr. Nelson brings all these talents to bear in his latest BOOM! Studios miniseries, this one called Protocol: Orphans.
I heard the following in a lecture one time: “Every family is a dysfunctional family.” (I just wish I could remember who said it!)
Based on a concept by Peter Facinelli and Rob DeFranco, Protocol: Orphans follows a spy “family” which is run by a “Dad” and has several young adults training and working together to accomplish missions, be they fake or real
As always, Mr. Nelson can artfully take another creator’s concept and make it sparkle on the printed page. That’s what’s happening in this mini-series.
Each of the “family” members is clearly identifiable from the others. Some are better at combat, while others can use today’s tech better than those who invented it could. There’s a lot of “sibling” rivalry going on, as some of the “kids” vie to be “Dad’s” favorite. It’s a fascinating concept for any of us who grew up in a family setting. Maybe we could have been spies as well!
The book contains a lot of surprises as well as twists and turns that keep the reader moving forward quickly. There’s a lot of action, alternating between fist fights and car crashes, so it’s never boring!
In this issue, there’s a lot of plane action that made me, who has acrophobia (fear of heights) squirm a LOT! Also, we continue to learn about the family and how they interact!
Newcomer Mariano Navarro does an excellent job matching the fast-paced plot with easily understood and vibrant artwork. Whether it’s action or interaction between the characters, I found myself drawn into the book.
My only concern in the first issue had to do with Gabriel Cassata’s colors. I realize that a spy drama often calls for darker, more subdued colors, but I think I would have preferred more brighter tones in some of the sequences. In several of the room scenes, I couldn’t imagine how anyone there could see or read anything, it was so murky.
However, in this second issue, the colors are much more vibrant, and that made what’s going on so much more understandable to me. Good job!
I guess it’s true that many stories have to do with teens “coming of age,” much like Hunger Games and the like. We can’t be help but be attracted to parts of life in which significant change starts to take place.
Protocol: Orphans is a strong read, something for adults young and old. I’m sorry that’s it’s only a four-issue miniseries because I’m already sure I’d like to see more than three more books about this setup and these characters. I hope the sales will warrant it.
If you are as big a spy story fan as I am and am looking for a different take on the genre, give Protocol: Orphans your attention! I think you’ll find a tale that will grab your attention and keep you coming back for more!
Check out the cover and several of the book’s first pages below: