Black Order is not a series anyone wanted and it was not something that picked up acclaim over time. But for those of us that stayed with it and know it was well written and best of all was able to avoid the “villains become anti-heroes” narrative that many villain centered comics turn into. Derek Landy has a following already as a fantasy author and now is dipping his toe into comics with Black Order and some work on Secret Empire as well.
Philip Tan is somewhat more experienced artist across the comic world but hasn’t quite hit his home run yet but his art in Black Order is underrated if not great.
In the first issue we are introduced to the main plot of the miniseries through narration by Corvus Glaive stoic leader of the Black Order who spends the beginning and end of the issue contemplating on whether or not he has a sense of humor. We’re also introduced the main antagonist of the series Emperor Attican of the Attican Empire, who the Black Order have been assigned a mission to destroy.
Issue two is narrated by Corvus Glaive’s love interest and all around blood thirsty warmonger Proxima Midnight. Proxima Midnight sees everything as if it were a battle including her relationship and conversations with Corvus Glaive. This issue introduces Krannig the Peacemaker leader of the Resistance and closest thing to a good guy in the series. Derek Landy has disdain for actual good guys by writing Krannig’s heroes as comedic … Krannig tells the Black Order the reason Attican is able to subdue planets so quickly is because of the Bow of Gabriel, a weapon of a former herald of Galactus. The Resistance and the Black Order form an uneasy alliance and plan to destroy the Bow of Gabriel and end Attican’s reign. Secretly the Black Order plan to steal the bow for themselves.
The remaining issues are narrated by Black Dwarf, Black Swan and The Ebony Maw. The separate narrators per issue are a highlight of the writing mechanisms Landy uses throughout the the series along with heavy doses of humor in between scenes filled with imperialism and genocide.
Standout funny scenes are when Emperor Attican attempts to kill the Ebony Maw with a laser gun and asks how to set it to the flesh incinerating setting. He is told it doesn’t exist and he wonders aloud if he dreamt it. The Resistance fighters have members named Punch Fist and the Foot. “I punch with my fists.” “They’re what I run on.” In issue 3 the brutish Black Dwarf uses intergalactic poetry to push forward his narrative.
It doesn’t appear this series made any big waves in the comic community and while it was running the Black Order was used in the first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, in a way shrugging off the story that was taking place in a different galaxy. But those of us that read it know how good it turned out to be. I doubt we see them in dollar bins. The series was never expected to fly off the shelves with average to below average print runs.
The Black Order was fun well written side story in the Marvel cosmic universe, by a creative writer and an artist that knows how to tell a story with his pictures. The Black Order have a somewhat generic look and use and this creative team was able to flesh out a lot of personality to produce a series that is worth any Marvel fan’s time.