W – Bob Salley
A/C/L – Shawn Daley
The great thing about comic books is that you just never quite know what you’re going to get once you open up that cover and start flipping through the pages. Sure there are tag lines and solicits that are meant to either summarize bluntly, or sell you the on the book. Very rarely are those brief synopsis a true glimpse into the characters and worlds within. OGRE was solicited as A reclusive ogre escapes imprisonment from a tower during a castle siege and must work with humankind if he wants to survive. This new journey sets him on an adventure he’s not prepared to embark upon. Sure, we get that but what Bob Salley and Shawn Daley gave us with OGRE is so much more.
My take on summarizing OGRE is this: War sucks and everybody suffers because of it regardless of any ultimate good in its conclusion. All throughout there are microcosms that either mirror the larger scale or provide a doorway for clarification, understanding, and even enlightenment. This is what we find in OGRE.
Our opening is bleak. An entire land lay in shambles as a human war has ravaged the countryside as well as it’s inhabitants. The physical and emotional toll of war has more than set in. The ramifications have wholly set in and weigh heavy on the land and those still alive. Inherently violent [as war is violence] the characters in OGRE have found themselves in a position where they have to fight not for the cause of war, but the cause of survival. Prisoners of the war, and of lost causes, the group that the book introduces us too is given a freak chance to escape both.
Without detailing too much, the book does present the prevailing war that has presented the circumstances through which our Ogre is able to have his journey. The broader effect of the war has provided the microcosm within the prison setting that opens OGRE. The big burly “monster” we follow is sitting in a cell along side humans that are also prisoners. The Ogre though is chained to a corpse. Together the corpse and the war are used to frame the journey we take by way of cause and effect and how we react to things that can and cannot control.
We are quickly introduced to one of the worst horrors of war. The dark side that resides within all of us is represented, appropriately, by trolls that enter the picture as profiteers of the war. With no regard to either side or the destruction being wrought the trolls seek only to gain for themselves. This element adds another layer to the story of OGRE that many will find to be surprisingly deep. On the surface the book, like war, appears to be cut and dry. Two sides are at odds and fight it out. A big ugly monster is at odds with man and they fight it out. Except that is not the story at all in either case. The driving factor behind our tale is the internal conflict that rages within our Ogre as the journey to survive unfolds. While the book never explores the war itself, the trickle down from it is everywhere. The humans are effected, our Ogre is affected, and even the trolls are too. Each is dealt their own hand but the dealer is the war. This allows for fleeting, intricate relationships to be just as powerful as the longer ones that brood, fester, and ultimately decide how the events turn out.
The identifiable themes of racism, classism, love, hate, despair, and hope are all on display and woven together in a touching and poignant fabric. From doubt to hope, hate to sympathy, and ignorance to understanding OGRE unveils a timeless tale of personal struggle that takes the worst in us and turns it into the best of us. The eternal war within about we can and cannot control rides right alongside the struggle of whether or not we are capable of true change at all. OGRE uses its devices perfectly and delivers on all fronts.