Protocol – Orphans is a tense thriller perfect for fans of fun spy fiction like TV’s Alias or Mission: Impossible. I enjoyed the kick-off of this limited series quite a lot!


The characters lived in my imagination so much I often forgot they were fictional.
The script moves at a strong pace, with dynamic art to match.
It’s a little too dark for my tastes, especially when people are in a room. Lights, please!

Overall Rating: ★★★★½



Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Mariano Navarro
Creators: Peter Facinelli & Rob DeFranco
Editor: Eric Harburn

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in PROTOCOL – ORPHANS: 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 amongst us, ready for “the family” to call them back into action.


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 happens in this debut issue.

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!

The most dramatic part to me, a dog lover, was when Lewis remembers when, as a child, he had to try to rescue a puppy’s life. Based on the memories we see, it didn’t turn out all that well!

There’s a powerful cliffhanger on the last page of this issue, so don’t miss it!


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 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.

Still, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the issue very much at all. Maybe future issues will be a little more striking.


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!

Rating: ★★★★½


About Author

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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