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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 29

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson’s The Order!


The Order was a spin-off of Marvel’s Civil War storyline (you can read about The Order in this week’s Comic Book Legends Revealed). It was California’s representative in the Fifty State Initiative (where each state in the US got their own government-sponsored/government-trained team).

Writer Matt Fraction used the California setting to do a riff on “superheroes as celebrities” by having the book set in Los Angeles. The conceit of The Order is that all the members of the team are real life “heroes,” like notable charity founders, famous pop stars, anti-war protesters, etc. In addition, the powers given to the members of the team would only last for one year.

The book had a very nice mixture of character-based stories as well as some over the top action.

Here is a very cool bit where Fraction plays with the whole “role models” mixed with paparazzi angle…

And then, after having something character based like that, the issue ends with…

That was the kind of book The Order was.

In addition, Fraction would drop details about each character (as these were all new characters) with an interesting “interview format.”

Here are samples of interviews from issues #1-6, spotlighting five members of the team as well as their Public Relations manager…

Kitson did strong work on the art, but one of the drawbacks of the book is that Kitson’s style is SO distinct that it was hard for fill-in artists (even strong ones like Khari Evans and Javier Saltares) to fill in for him.

Fraction brought a lot of the coolness of this comic along with him to Invincible Iron Man, which is one of Marvel’s very best superhero titles right now.


I’ve always wondered about getting this book but this seals the deal. What about featuring Captain Britain and the MI:13 – another brilliant series that died too young.

I came close to getting The Order when it first began, but my money was very limited at that time. (It still is, but it was worse before last year.)
It’s hard for me to tell from this whether I would’ve liked it or not. The characters seem kind of artificial and formulaic, but new characters often start that way. It takes a little bit of story before they start to feel real.
I haven’t been too impressed with the two Iron Man issues I’ve read, so I’m still not sure what I think of Fraction. But he clearly has some good writing skills. Even though it’s just exposition and plot advancement that you show here, the dialogue does feel kind of natural.

Yeesh, those Initiative rules sound ridiculously strict. Any job that sets limits on what you can do on your own time is unacceptable to me.

The Gremlin is alive now? What idiot brought him back? His death is what removed any last hope in the Armor War. After that, Stark had no choice but to kill Iron Man and replace him. Reviving the Gremlin just cheapens one of the best Iron Man stories ever.
(By the way, when Stark’s identity as Iron Man was finally revealed, how did he avoid prosecution for all his crimes during the Armor War. Did he still claim that that was a different Iron Man and that he was just the newest one?)

Aaarrgghh! I’m not thinking very clearly, I guess. (It’s very late and I’m tired.) I completely forgot that Fraction wrote several recent X-Men which I have read, so I should be able to formulate an opinion of his writing.
Well, some of the story ideas in X-Men have been a little weak, but they’re filled with lots of cool details, and his dialogue and characterisation have been great. So I figure the characters from the Order shown above were simply still in the process of being formed and probably became more real as the series progressed.

So I guess I do like Fraction, although he’s not one of my favourites, at least not yet.

Mary – You should get Casanova when you can. It was an Image series that Fraction did with Gabriel Ba in the ‘slimline’ format. Each issue was a dense, but assured, 16 page story with Ba’s fabulous art done in monochrome. The first trade, Luxuria, is sold out on Amazon but and the second arc, Gula, hasn’t been collected.
Fraction has said that Marvel will be rereleasing the series in full-colour soon and will then collect the trades. I hope they keep the Fraction-written backmatter the original singles do. That should be either $1.99 (the original cover price) or the more standard $2.99 or $3.50.
Those books are to Fraction what something like Powers is to Bendis or the Invisibles is to Morrison. You should read those because they are unfiltered Fraction and I’d love to hear your opinion then.

I find the lack of “OHMYGOD Y’ALL I’M FIGHTING A BEAR” in this post disturbing.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 30, 2010 at 8:14 am

Any art from Barry Kitson is always pretty good.

Never cottoned to Fraction, but they can’t all be like BKV or Morrison or Ennis or Ellis.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

That’s not the original Gremlin (or Mongu, or Titanium Man, or Unicorn). The story reveals they’re a bunch of inferior copies made as “backups” by the Soviets that have been reactivated.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 30, 2010 at 11:39 am

Sorry, meant to say Crimson Dynamo and Ursa Major; these are all cheap imitation versions produced by Soviet efforts to duplicate their existing superbeings.

” The Gremlin is alive now? What idiot brought him back? His death is what removed any last hope in the Armor War. After that, Stark had no choice but to kill Iron Man and replace him. Reviving the Gremlin just cheapens one of the best Iron Man stories ever. ”

Even if this were the Gremlin, the story itself didn’t have Tony face any meaningful consequences for his actions, so why would any other writer be held to that standard?

I liked the Order, but it was sort of… less than the sum of its parts. The character bits were, as you point out, very well done. But each character got an issue (or half an issue) and then… the story moved on. It never came together.

In the end I liked it just fine, but felt it could have been better.

Doug M.

Wonderful book. It’s a shame that the cast hasn’t been around at all since it ended. I had hoped that they would be folded into Fraction’s Iron Man or The Initiative and it never happened.

loved how the order showed how the fifty state ininitive was more a burcracy and fraction showing how some wanna be heroes prefer fame and fortune. even if Marvel only used the name because they could not use the champions any more the book was good should have lasted longer

Great series. I wish it would’ve lasted longer. And that Kitson would’ve given it his full attention towards the end. It seemed to me like he was phoning it in towards the end of the series.

What I love best about the Order is that it created characters with original histories based in real-world celebrity culture, and drew from sources well outside the stereotypical reach of comic book continuity. Fraction could easily have made these characters act like stereotypes ( especially ersatz-Britney Alarune ); it’s a testament to his incredible skill that he didn’t.


January 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm

This series had some great action, and great characters – the only thing holding it back – and I wonder if this is why Fraction abandoned it – were the over continuing sub-plots.

For instance, the zobo’s were fun for an issue, but I didn’t really care where they came from, and the Muholland Black and her former gang story weren’t interesting enough for the amount of issue they take up.
I also feel like I’m missing some pages in my collection in regarding the Man From S.H.A.D.O.W – I’m not sure where the team hears about him, or he gets introduced – he just suddenly appears and everyone knows who he is.

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