With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems. Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Barry Kitson
In 2007, before he was famously relaunching Invincible Iron Man, Matt Fraction was working on a slightly lesser known Marvel property. The Order spun out of the 50 State Initiative, created by Iron Man and his cohorts to place a Government sponsored superhero team in every state. The Order represented California, and offered one of the more creative takes on the newly formed teams.
Composed mainly of celebrities, The Order represented the latest in Stark and Pym technology, offering regular joes a chance at being superheroes for a one year term. The make up of the team was one of the more interesting aspects, as characters included a bevy of Hollywood archetypes reaching all the way from Britney Spears to Angelina Jolie to even Robert Downey Jr as the team’s leader. Beyond the Hollywood types, Fraction also introduced Sergeant Major Dennis Murray, one of the soldiers who was injured in the attack that lead to Tony Stark creating the Iron Man armor, given the ability to function again with a high tech walking iron lung contraption that submerged him in fluid. This made Murray, or Heavy as he was known, the team’s representation of Poseidon, with the remaining members all representing their own ancient gods.
The Order focused it’s stories on character development, evoking a Lost-like approach through it’s use of issues dedicated to flashbacks for specific characters. Typically told in the form of their initial interview to become members of the team, the flashbacks offered a unique view into the motivations and origins of each character in a manner unlike most other comic series.
The Order also served as the introduction for one of the more important villains in modern day Iron Man – Ezekiel Stane, the son of famous Iron Man villain Obadiah Stane, the Iron Monger. Introduced as the mastermind behind all of the troubles faced by the team, Stane was revealed to be torturing the team as collateral damage on his way to destroy Tony Stark. Fraction would continue these story threads in his following series, Invincible Iron Man, and Stane continues to play an important role in that title today.
Though the series lasted only ten short issues, The Order stands as an entertaining take on the modern superhero genre. It suffers the same problems that all prematurely ended stories do, as the ending feels a bit rushed, but The Order delivers it’s fair share of twists and turns, and manages to create characters that the reader will continue to care for long after the series end. For offering a view into the future of reality crime fighting, I give The Order 4 out of 5 mechanized zombie hobos.