Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Advance Review: The Order #2


Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Barry Kitson

Marvel Comics

The Order is California's home-grown government-sponsored, media-friendly superhero team, based on the Greek Pantheon. Tony Stark is Zeus, high commander high on government dough; Pepper Potts is Hera, team leader from a safe distance with a next generation iPhone; Henry Hellrung is Apollo, field leader, recovering alcoholic and washed-up actor with his tongue firmly planted between his Iron-highnesses rivets. The rest? Well, we're slowly finding out.

Fraction seems ready to teach Advance Team-book Plotting and Character Introductions 401. Many new team books today fall into common traps and lose their readership's interest by the middle of the opening arc. They either force a massive info-dump on the reader in the first issue, throwing all their cards on the table but failing to catch the reader's interest with any one character (SHADOWPACT being a more recent example), or they push plot decompression to the limits by taking one issue to introduce each member of the team, with the team not appearing together until the 6th issue of the story, by which point the readers are so bored the series is canceled (don't believe me? Look for back issues of THE CREW or the Tsunami NEW MUTANTS relaunch). Fraction knows the golden cut here; The team is already in place from the first issue, with each issue featuring a done-in-one adventure that furthers the overall plot, interjected by the audition interviews of one member each issue; keep the reader interested with action, qualify the 'team' title, while you slowly introduce the cast one by one forging a connection between each of them and the reader. Think of the idea behind MIGHTY AVENGERS but executed properly.

The first issue was dedicated to Henry Hellrung or Anthem, while #2 spotlights Becky Ryan, the team's Venus or as the story title dubs her: Teenager of the Year.

Becky is the Marvel Universe's answer to pre-drugs Britney Spears. a child celebrity, winning pageants, selling platinum albums, etc, with a sunny disposition and a repressed personality after growing up with an adult constantly dictating how she should act and look, what she could eat and how she should think, if that.

In the interest of poetic justice, Fraction grants this girl the power to 'be whatever [she] wants to be'. The next scene cuts to Becky ecstatic at the prospect of super-punching a coimmunist bear in the face. She is a superhero actually having fun. And that communicates well from her to the viewer/reader.

I think it's at this point I thought to myself 'This is so good. I'm so happy I could punch a bear too'. Once in a while, a book comes along which pushes certain buttons and becomes an instant favorite, like love at first read.

PREACHER, X-FORCE/X-STATIX, NEXTWAVE, FABLES, RUNAWAYS, YOUNG AVENGERS; When the ORDER was first announced I had a good gut feeling, and the first issue touched on a lot of favorite soft spots, but it wasn't until this second character introduction that I realized this is the book that's going to get me running every month to the comics store to read .

What else goes on in the issue? A Who's Who of Russian criminals attacks, from trolls to Bears and metal-plated commie chicks. Someone dies (but that was obvious since last issue). The team's Hestia/P.R. shows up and she demands to be cherished. Nixon Bobblehead helps reach an important decision. A former Order member copes with life without fame. The bluetooth sword speaks. Much kicking, punching and running on water. Euthanasia. Nuclear bombs. Giant seafood. Becky rules. (but we already covered that)

This is the gold 'cool' standard superhero comics should aspire to.

(Did i already mention I'm in love with this book?)

Grade: 9/10

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