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Comic Book / The Order (2007)

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The Order.

The Order was a Marvel Comics comic book series written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Barry Kitson.

It featured California's post-Civil War (2006) team, called, well, the Order, and their struggles to deal with a superpowered all-girl vigilante gang, a Cold War sleeper cell, and a conspiracy to undermine the Initiative, among other things.

The Order contains examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Order gets almost no respect from the people of California, and is mostly seen as Tony Stark's vanity project. The fact that it's run by his ex and his AA sponsor probably doesn't help.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Black Dahlias, who Veda described as "Tim Burton sponsors a women's golf team."
  • An Arm and a Leg: James Wa lost both his legs to a drunk driver, ending his baseball career. He went on to invent a versatile set of prosthetic legs and made a fortune.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Quadriplegic Heavy dies horribly after Stane disables the nanites that keep his damaged lungs functional.
  • Bury Your Gays: In the end, Henry Hellrung is forced to kill lesbian Mulholland Black after her powers go out of control.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Several of the Order's members lost their previous careers to injuries.
    • "Calamity" James Wa was a track and baseball star throughout high school and into his college years, due to his phenomenal running speed. He was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated, referred to as "the boy most likely to succeed." Not long after, he lost his legs in a car accident.
    • Milo Fields was a former soldier who was shot through the spine after becoming an anti-war protester.
    • Dennis Michael Murray was a warrant officer who was critically wounded and paralyzed during the incident that led to Tony Stark becoming Iron Man.
  • Celebrity Superhero: The team is half-way between this and Celebrity Masquerade, being a group of existing celebrities who were given artificial superpowers as part of the short-lived Avengers Initiative project after Civil War (2006). Despite their publicity-oriented origin, they ended up as a well-intentioned and quite competent superhero team, until Ezekiel Stane picked them as C-List Fodder to be curb-stomped as his first major act of supervillainy, leading to the death of two of their number.
  • Comically Missing the Point: As Henry Hellrung struggles to locate Becky, Milo, and Mulholland Black and deal with a sudden invasion by Atlantis, Tony Stark is too engrossed with trying to buy a fancy new headquarters.
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy: All the female members wears revealing outfits, many baring their midesctions as seen in the page image. Justified, as they're supposedly a celebrity team and the series was published in the 2000's, at a time when this kind of look was practically compulsory at all times for any female celebrity under forty.
  • Dead All Along: Sam Softly has been dead since the late '50s. The one the Order faces is actually a series of Ridiculously Human Robots built in his image.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kate Kildare can be very deadpan when she wants to be.
  • Death by Depower: Heavy dies almost immediately after Ezekial Stane deactivates the team's powers, because his own powers were the only thing keeping his previously-damaged lungs functional.
  • Discard and Draw: Mulholland Black lost her mutant powers after M-Day, and was recruited into Tony Stark's Fifty State Initiative and given an artificial version of her powers. Then when she was depowered by the bad guys, it reactivated her original powers. Or so she thought. It was really Stane rebooting Stark's tech-based powers, but more potent and less controlled.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Zobos, down-and-outs turned into zombified cyborgs by the Big Bad.
  • Downer Ending: The whole team gets curb-stomped by Ezekiel Stane, whose actions force Henry to kill Mulholland Black to prevent her Stane-induced Superpower Meltdown from destroying LA. To add insult to injury, he only did it to piss off Tony Stark, and none of the Order members get to play a role in taking him down when he turns up in Iron Man.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Becky Ryan was initially kept off the team because her psychiatric evaluation suggested that there was a good chance she might try to kill herself. Naturally, her first mission ends with her trying to absorb a nuclear explosion. Thankfully, she survives.
    • Mulholland Black alludes to having been suicidal in the past, especially after M-Day took away her powers.
  • Former Child Star: Before becoming a superhero, Rebecca "Becky" Ryan was a former child country star, with much of the attendant mental baggage.
  • Fusion Dance: Milo and Becky manage to fuse into a single hybrid form after their powers and equipment are disabled.
  • Fun with Acronyms: We never learn what "M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W." actually stands for. Seeing as how both M.A.N. and S.H.A.D.O.W. were made up by Ezekiel Stane, there's a very good chance that it doesn't stand for anything — he just wanted something cool-sounding.
  • Genius Ditz: Mulholland Black may not be terribly refined, but she is a huge expert on the history of Los Angeles. She has to be, as that's the source of her powers.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the first issue, the fledgling team defeats a villain who was causing a huge wildfire in Los Angeles, and are so happy they decide to have a night on the town. Avona isn't so sure, but Maul doesn't see any harm in it: "What are they gonna do, fire us tomorrow?" The next day, everyone who went out that night is fired — turns out they violated the morality clause in their contracts.
  • Handicapped Badass: Milo Fields, the Supernaut, was a former soldier who is wheelchair-bound after being shot for protesting America's actions in the Somali Civil War. At one point, his armor craps out in the middle of a desert, and he still manages to fight off a giant scorpion.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Order retains the services of one of the best PR firms available, but S.H.A.D.O.W.'s machinations and the ensuing destruction tests the limits of this firm's abilities.
    "I ran two press conferences today... One explaining that California is safe in the hands of these maybe-dubious super-celebrities, and another explaining that the Teenager Of The Year personally absorbed a 20-kiloton nuclear blast, but, really, everything is fine now... It was a little rough.''
  • Home Porn Movie: One of these nearly ruins Becky's career.
    Kate Kildare: You don't happen to have some dirtbag ex-boyfriend out there somewhere that might have cam-phone footage of you two rutting? And he wouldn't happen to be the kind of dirtbag ex-boyfriend that might try to sell that footage, would he? Because, guess what? You do. And he is.
  • Hypocrite: The Black Dahlias were founded as a vigilante group dedicated to fighting the exploitation of women. Their leader, Wendy, intends to use Mulholland Black's powers to further the group's goals, regardless of whether or not Holly was willing.
  • I Have Brothers: Kate Kildare attributes her success in public-relations management to the fact that she had nine brothers growing up, which meant that she had to learn to stand up for herself.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: "Calamity" James Wa, a former baseball prodigy and track star who lost his legs to a drunk driver, well... let's just say his game still revolves around speed, with his state-of-the-art cybernetic legs allowing him to break the sound barrier. He's also adept at improvising "bats" out of nearby debris, at one point splattering the brains of dozens of zombies with an uprooted parking meter.
  • In Name Only: Has nothing to do with the previous book and team called The Order, which was about an increasingly ruthless incarnation of The Defenders. But it was a trademark Marvel still owned, unlike Champions. (If the book had used that title, it would at least have followed the original in being the Californian superteam).
  • Intoxicated Superpower Snag: Any powers granted by the Soma process are disabled if the person gets intoxicated, in order to prevent the spectacle of California's state-sponsored heroes going on drunken rampages. As the process was personally developed by Tony Stark (a recovering alcoholic) and Hank Pym (who had several incidents due to untreated bipolar disorder), making sure that the powers could not be compromised was a top-of-mind issue.
  • Junkie Parent: Mulholland Black's parents were drug-addicted rock stars who both overdosed when she was little.
  • Mama Bear: Magdalena Marie is a devoted advocate for orphans and the homeless. She is deeply offended when S.H.A.D.O.W. sends an army of zombified homeless people after the Order.
  • Mecha-Mooks: S.H.A.D.O.W.'s got plenty. The M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W. is actually the M.E.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W., and they make up 90 percent of Stane's fabricated No Such Agency.
  • Meaningful Name: Mulholland Black. She used to be one of the Dahlias.
  • Naturalized Name: Magdalena Marie was born Magdalena Marie Neuntauben. She dropped her surname because nobody could pronounce it properly and she got tired of having to explain to people how to pronounce it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the very first issue, a third of the team manages to get fired after they decide to celebrate their first victory by getting wasted. This creates a publicity problem for the rest of the team.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Subverted. It looks like by deactivating Holly's Soma-provided powers, the Dahlias accidentally manage to reactivate her mutant powers, which are much, much stronger. It soon turns out, however, that Stane merely got her Soma-powers to work right, and he deliberately did so as part of his Evil Plan.
  • No Such Agency:
    • S.H.A.D.O.W., led by General Sam Softly, the M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W. A top-secret government agency that no one has ever heard of before, who makes life hell for the Order at every opportunity for reasons no one understands. It's not until near the end of the series that we finally learn that there really isn't any such agency. Ezekiel Stane, a terrorist with a hatred of Tony Stark, took a few Mooks and a couple hundred Ridiculously Human Robots to create a fake secret military organization.
    • Tony later works out that there was a top-top-secret organization named S.H.D.O. back in the late '50s, who tried to create an army of super-solders for every state — not unlike the Fifty-State Initiative Tony is trying to execute now. It's what Stane based his false group on, co-opting its old, abandoned base in the Salton Sea.
  • Power Incontinence: Holly has a lot of difficulty getting her Soma powers to work properly. Ezekiel later gets them to work right — so he can induce a Superpower Meltdown and take out all of Los Angeles.
  • Prelude to Suicide: Becky Ryan was initially kept off the team because her background check revealed a string of self-destructive behaviors, including drug abuse and eating disorders, but she ended up making the cut after half of the initial team were kicked out for public drinking. After she pulls a very public attempt at a Heroic Sacrifice on her first mission, Henry pulls her aside and asks her point-blank if she was trying to kill herself.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Played with. Wendy isn't really insane. She was, however, a terrible girlfriend who took advantage of Holly in the hopes of having someone with superpowers in her gang, and she appears to harbor delusions that Holly still loves her.
  • Psycho Lesbian: The Black Dahlias. According to Mulholland, they used to be more benign, just roughing up pimps and rapists, but it's clear that gaining superpowers has greatly changed their methods.
  • Psycho Rangers: The Dahlias were given powers based on the Order's initial roster, with Wendy being a counterpart to Avona, Lisa being a counterpart to Pierce, Marie being a counterpart to Calamity, and Rae-Ann being a counterpart to Heavy. Presumably, they expected that Mulholland would rejoin them and serve as a counterpart to either Maul, Anthem, or Corona.
  • Recovered Addict: Henry Hellrung used to be a nasty drunk, the result of his playing Tony Stark on a TV show and becoming the real Tony's wingman. After his career went down the toilet, he got heavily into AA, and became Stark's sponsor when he got sober. Incidentally, upon becoming the leader of the Order, California's post-Civil War (2006) official team, he instituted a strict no-alcohol policy.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: Discussed. Milo Fields was a fourth-generation marine who grew disillusioned with the military after seeing how the Somali Civil War — in which he and his platoon fought — was turned into propaganda to convince impressionable kids to sign up for the war in Iraq.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Holly's mutant powers come back, she exacts her vengeance against the Dahlias.
    "I suppose I'd exact my slow and unholy revenge on everyone that ever did me wrong, one wretched soul at a time, until the sounds of their screams slaked my unnatural thirst for their sorrows." (beat) "Ha ha. Just kidding." (beat) "But not really. I'd totally go even some scores. That's cool, right?"
  • Romantic Wingman: Henry Hellrung used to be Tony Stark's wingman back before he got sober.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W that Becky and Milo fight in the desert is revealed to be an android duplicate of the real man when he starts blasting them with eye beams. In fact, every Sam Softly we ever met was a robot duplicate of the real man, who died decades ago. Stane just needed his Mecha-Mooks to look like authority figures ordinary people wouldn't question.
  • Romantic Wingman: Back before he hit bottom, Henry used to be Tony Stark's wingman, which he gleefully exploited in order to keep his job, even as his drinking problem became well-known.
    "Hell, after we'd slept with everyone in town, the papers tried to pair the two of us up."
  • Sisterhood Eliminates Creep: The Black Dahlias were originally a girl gang devoted to beating up pimps and rapists in order to protect women. After one of their former members, Mulholland, became a member of the Order, they became dedicated to hunting down and killing members of the Order.
  • Sparing Them the Dirty Work: During The Order's first mission, Calamity is sent to track down the Soviet sleeper agents who are mentally controlling a team of cloned Russian superheroes who are trying to nuke Los Angeles. He discovers that the agents are literally sleeper agents — they were put on ice way back in the sixties and don't realize that the Cold War is over, and there is no way to wake them up in time to stop the bomb, and thus someone will have to kill them. Calamity, having no experience with killing, can't bring himself to do it, so the team sends Omninaut, who used to be a soldier, to do it for him.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The series takes elements of two earlier Marvel titles, X-Statix (C-list celebrities as superheroes), and Strikeforce: Morituri (volunteer normals given time-limited superpowers), but is much lighter-toned than either - unlike in X-Statix the characters actually care about doing good, and unlike in Morituri the process won't kill them at the end.
  • Sports Hero Backstory: James Wa was an up-and-coming college baseball player before losing both his legs in a car accident.
  • Stage Mom: Becky Ryan's dad forced her to become a country music star at a very early age.
  • Stepford Smiler: Becky has a tendency towards smiling even when she's not happy. Kitson actually makes a point of making her genuine smiles and forced smiles look distinct.
  • Super-Soldier: The Order is essentially a grouping of applied phlebotinum media darlings; a team crafted to be popular AND powerful. One of the few teams that Tony Stark had a personal hand in building. Unfortunately, these superbeings have a time-limit on their careers: each person is under contract for only one year (otherwise the idea would get "stale", plus their granted powers might kill them).
  • Sympathetic Sentient Weapon: Poor Mulholland Black was turned into a living WMD by the Black Dahlias.
  • Take That, Audience!: There's a fan theory that the Sudden Downer Ending, in which Ezekiel Stane curb-stomps the entire team just to piss off Tony Stark, is a metafictional Take That! with Stane representing Marvel fans who are only interested in decades-old characters and don't support series starring newly-created characters.
  • Talking Weapon: Athena archetype Avona's talking sword is technologically crafted and named "Bluetooth".
  • The Man Behind the Man: S.H.A.D.O.W. was made up by Ezekial Stane.
  • The Only One: The Order runs on the premise that they're the only superhero team available to deal with fallout from the Civil War (in part because the Civil War forced the Runaways into hiding - nice job breaking it, Tony...)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Henry delivers one to Mulholland after finding out that she withheld information about her past with the Dahlias.
    • He also delivers one to Tony Stark after Stark won't shut up about the Demeter.
  • The Remnant: One of The Order's first battles is against a nuclear-armed team of Russian supervillains who are completely unaware that the Cold War has been over for two decades.
  • The Teetotaler: Henry Hellrung is a former drinking buddy of Tony Stark. After it ruined his acting career, he became a sober celebrity and ended up helping Stark get sober. He himself has been sober for at least two decades.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Henry still attends AA meetings when he can, and tries to get Tony to do so as well.
  • Vigilante Militia: The Black Dahlias were originally a gang of vigilantes who attacked pimps and rapists in the Los Angeles area. After the events of Civil War (2006), they turned to assassinating current and former members of the Order, realizing that they would not be able to continue their former non-lethal activities as long as California had a government-sanctioned super-team running around.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: This is essentially Pepper Potts' power - she is connected to a computer network that allows her to communicate with the team in the field.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Becky Ryan can be anything she wants to be...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Black Dahlias were originally founded to protect women in Los Angeles from exploitation, and their opposition to the Order is based on the notion that it's unfair to restrict the right to be a superhero to a bunch of well-connected C-list celebrities. That said, their methods of fighting back against this system are very, very wrong.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Anthem is a washed-up actor and friend in long standing of Iron Man's. How bad is he? Not only had he sunk into depression and become a severe alcoholic, he was resistant to the idea of a comeback because he felt he didn't deserve it. Luckily, he got better before the series began.
  • Younger Than They Look: Becky's asshole dad illegally passed her off as one year older than she actually was in order to enroll her in pageants.

Alternative Title(s): The Order