Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 25: The Order (Part 2)

[Discussed in this post: The Order #6-10.]

Oh my god, we've reached the halfway mark! How the hell did that happen?

Anyway, the second half of The Order revolves around the overall plot put in place by Ezekiel Stane in his effort to fuck with Tony Stark. The M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W. is his as are the Black Dhalias, a group of LA women that Mulholland Black was once a member of -- something the Order is not aware of. Mulholland has psychic powers that tap in LA's collective unconscious and she's got an attitude.

One of the best issues of this bunch is #7 where Henry sits down and has a talk with Namor, who has erected a wall of water around the coast of San Francisco and demands to be arrested. Atlantis is no more and he figures he can be a bigger help to his people as a prisoner of the evil humans than anywhere else -- a figurehead they can all get behind. Henry and Namor's conversation is some of Fraction's best writing as Henry stays with Namor every step, finally outplaying him and forcing Namor to take the wall down. If you weren't convinced that Henry was the real deal yet (and I wasn't), that does it.

The confrontation with Stane and his flunkies doesn't go well for the Order as they lose the powers given to them by the program, which results in the death of one member. Stane nearly destroys LA before the team finally stops him -- but he gets away to fight another day in The Invincible Iron Man. What's interesting is that Stane's flunkies aren't much of a match for the Order -- Stark's team is better than Stane's. A subtle little jab at the villain.

Fraction calls the team a social experiment in the book. I've been trying to figure out what kind exactly. An experiment in social responsibility? People aspiring to be bigger and better themselves? Will the public get behind regular people who sacrifice their personal lives to help others? Is that enough to win people over?

The answer is no, of course.

The Order was a Marvel superhero title featuring classic-style heroics, easy-to-relate-to characters, very good art and writing, and it didn't sell. What do the people want?

Well, what they're familiar with. Characters whose names you don't have to learn is always great. Costumes you recognise is a plus.

In that way, The Order really strikes me as Matt Fraction doing a Joe Casey book. It's not hard to see the leap from Wildcats Version 3.0 to The Order. The Order was Matt Fraction's best work for Marvel, I think.

Later, I'll be discussing The Invincible Iron Man and why I don't like it. Should be fun.

But, in 30 minutes, it will be New Avengers: The Trust.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]