Written by Daniel Freedman
Art by Sina Grace
Burn the Orphanage comes with a very interesting concept: taking the style and story of classic beat-em-ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, and translating them into a comic. It was fascinating enough to get me to pick up the book, but there's something here that's lacking.
After his orphanage was burned down when he was a kid, Rock has been looking for the person who did it, and beating up everybody in his way. And he always has his friends, Lex and Bear, to help with beating up people. Along with getting revenge, the other stories in Born to Lose feature Rock getting swept up in other-dimensional tournaments and other planets.
Part of the problem here for me is that these other stories begin to take away from the feel of the book, becoming more generalized with its video game influences. The first story is a fine one-shot, but the others begin to drag the concept down some. Rock isn't quite an interesting enough character to really care about what he's doing, and in general, the humor just isn't funny enough. There's a few moments that made me laugh, and some of the ideas here are spot-on (Bear is a big, hairy gay man...who, for good measure, also has the heart of a bear), but it doesn't happen quite enough at times. Having a whole plot reference to Mortal Kombat in the second issue means that there isn't much room for Freedman to stretch on the writing, and in spots, it feels like he's filling in space. A big example is a long scene in the 3rd issue where Bear and Lex discuss their different feelings on relationships. It doesn't really add anything to the book or to the characters. I'm also halfway on Grace's art. It's rather vivid, violent when it needs to be, and adds quite a bit to the world. On the other hand, characters tend to have weird proportions and just look...off. This may just be my interpretation of it, though.
Overall, Burn the Orphanage proves that a good concept can't hold a book up, especially when the concept is almost instantly thrown out.