[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
The Black Order has been resurrected by the Grandmaster for his game with the Challenger. After their conflict with the Avengers, they were set loose back into the cosmos to do the bidding of the Grandmaster wherever he pleased. This has now brought the Black Order into conflict with Sinnarian Empire. The Order has sacked three of the empire’s planets and is drawing the attention of Emperor Attican, a famously mad ruler. Attican gathers his armies and most deranged warriors to plan a response to the Black Order’s violence.
How does one write a story centering on Thanos’ Black Order? In all of their appearances, the Black Order, also known as the Cull Obsidian, has been shown to be a unanimously brutal and silent crew with little personality beyond viciousness and evil itself. Their visual designs are good, but it never seemed to be Jonathan Hickman or any subsequent writer’s goal to give them distinct identities.
Well, Derek Landy, wisely, has crafted personalities for the Black Order, and it adds a lot of flavor to what could have easily been a misfire of a comic.
The first line spoken aloud by Corvus Glaive asks Proxima Midnight if he is funny. Corvus Glaive is afraid that, in his career as leader of the Black Order and endless path of mayhem across the universe, he has never developed a personality. He wants to be funny, and it is one of the most oddly charming things I’ve seen in a comic in recent months.
“Charming” is not a word I expected to use in describing The Black Order #1, but it is an apt descriptor. Corvus is strangely neurotic, Proxima Midnight just enjoys killing but adores Corvus, Black Dwarf is surprisingly soft-spoken and polite, and Black Swan is the cooky goth girl. Ebony Maw doesn’t receive much fleshing-out in this book, but I’m sure Landy has something in mind for the most prominently-featured Black Order member from Avengers: Infinity War.
The drawback is, well, you want to know where Thanos is, and Thanos is dead thanks to Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato Jr.’s Infinity Wars event. You’re left longing for the Mad Titan’s return, and I don’t think it’s a guarantee in this miniseries.
I am a little disappointed that Supergiant has been left to the sands of time and her fate in Hickman’s Infinity. That’s really only because I’m a nerd and, I guess, a Black Order completionist.
Philip Tan does the Order brutal justice in their depictions in this comic. As I already said, the team always had really good visual designs, especially Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight. Those hold up here, and the action scenes show how cruel these five beings can be. Black Swan and, at times, Proxima Midnight fall victim prominent T&A posing, but she’s still allowed to look like a badass in many scenes. Jay David Ramos does a good job in coloring the book, keeping a dynamic and vibrant color balance throughout that still highlights the ominous presence of the Black Order.
The Black Order #1 is a shockingly charming read. It relies on awkward humor and the lack of social skill that comes with being a perpetual engine of cosmic genocide that rarely has a conversation with anyone. It’s a delightful read and earns a far stronger recommendation than I expected to give this book. Check it out.
The Black Order #1 comes to us from writer Derek Landy, artist Philip Tan, inkers Marc Deering, Guillermo Ortega, and Le Beau Underwood, color artist Jay David Ramos, letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles, cover artist Philip Tan with Peter Steigerwald, and variant cover artists John Tyler Christopher and Inhyuk Lee.
[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]