THE DEFENDERS: THE ORDER 1-6
The Order begins in Defenders 12 (v2), the second story in Marvel’s ‘Nuff Said series. The Defenders are battling Chronarch, the King of Time whom they defeat. However, this is the final straw. Being magically spirited away and having to battle a second rate villain not worthy of their attention leaves Strange in a foul mood as he is fed up with the curse. The Big Four abandon the Little Three (except Kyle follows) and seek out Gaea to ask that she break the curse when she says she will not, the Big Four attack her physically, but to no avail. They are all teleported to the Himalayas where they promptly form a pact: they will no longer be supplicants to the curse, they will chart their own course as The Order: Defenders Against the Earth!
|The Order #1: Nighthawk remains stranded in the Himalayas while The Big Four are presented as darker versions of their former selves. First stop: Murtakesh, where they aim at ending terrorism they do so aggressively and with disdain. Back in the States, we learn of Valkyrie’s "civilian-life", a little of her new-origin and meet her parents. Papa Hagg and saves Kyle from freezing to death but is still presented as somewhat of a mystery. Is he all that he appears? Meanwhile the Big Angry Four attack the US Navy and, not surprisingly when they refuse to submit, they are defeated. When the Little Three arrive to intervene in the affair, they are handled rather easily, and forcefully. We learn this disturbs the green Hulk who is a prisoner in his own mind. The Little Three are teleported...elsewhere...by Dr. Strange. Why the Order? Dr. Strange explains: "We did not seek to be champions of the planet...if we must adjust to the role, then the world must adjust as well. To prevent further disruption, we chose to be not servants, but masters..."|
|The Order #2: The Hague, home of the United Nations. The Order enter the UN and explain their desire. After demonstrating how serious they are, they set off to find a new base, "a lofty citadel, as far above humanity as we are". They arrive at the floating island city of the Red Raven and after a short battle, he casts the population into hibernation, then transforms the sky-island into four mini-cities, each appropriate for one of the Big Four. In the centre of the "island cities" a golden throne is discovered . Strange does not know why he created it, because he did not do so consciously...hmmm...the plot thickens. Back in New York, the Parrington’s create a new home-base for the Little Three. Papa Hagg spirits the Defenders to an astral plane where they find the Big Four’s "human sides" shackled to posts. The Big Four explain that Order represents their darker sides. Suddenly, the Big Bad Four arrive in spirit and attack the Defenders. For awhile, the little guys hold their own but eventually they are overwhelmed. Hagg whisks them back home before further harm can be done, where they find their base-computer is a large pink bunny (don’t ask). Finally, when the Order ends all oil drilling, this gets the attention of the US president...who asks the Avengers for help!|
|The Order #3: While Hagg and the Little Three work on ideas to "re-balance" their old team mates, The Order confronts the Avengers (there are some nice battles and witty banter, but in general, the Avengers cannot believe these heroes have become so...dark hearted). Later a Defenders plan takes shape: Hagg needs women! Val summons Namorita from Atlantis, Hellcat recruits She-Hulk. Then, the new five Defenders travel to a dark dimension where they convince Clea to join them. Meanwhile, Strange and the Surfer finally use their full power and the Avengers are overcome. The Order starts to show some cracks when it is learn that the Hulk is uglier then they planned (he alludes to rape). Back in New York, Hagg explains they have a female analogue of each member of the Order...except the Surfer, and that is the hard part...|
|The Order #4: The curse works on, the Order is forced to battle the Locust and again, are annoyed at the nuisance of it all. After winning the battle, the Hulk again refers to raping some of Red Raven’s winged citizens which disgusts the others who promptly blast the Hulk and imprison him in a energy sphere. Using the Star of Capistan, Strange calls on the green Hulk to replace the amoral grey brute. Back in New York, the Defenders spent a few moments going over Samantha’s (Valkyrie’s) baby pictures. Hagg arrives with the plan to get a female Surfer analogue. Meanwhile, remember that unoccupied throne at the centre of the Order’s floating citadel? Something swirls from the shadows...and begins to take form. Meanwhile, The green Hulk meanwhile physically protests the Order’s goals but Strange and the Surfer manage to change him into the Professor Hulk. The Defenders observe this secretly and when they get the Surfer alone, the overpower him and stab him with a mystic knife. Clea utters a spell and removes the blade from the fallen Surfer, he bleeds light and from him is born, Ardina! They explain to her their plan and she agrees. Suddenly, the Order arrives and a battle ensues...But Strange quickly ends it by sending the Defenders to another dimension. Back at the throne, a cloud with a smile forms...|
|The Order #5: The Defenders’ pink bunny computer reports to the Parrington’s that the Defenders are not on the Earth. It also summarizes the current status of the Earth under the Order’s rule...who are attempting to "make the world a better place". Later that night, as the Order slumbers...the cloud in the throne take shape and, in the realm of Gaea...she questions her decision to allow Yandroth’s curse. In Manhattan, the Avengers, Mr. Fantastic and Prof. X search for the location of the Order while the Defenders try to figure out what dimension they are in! Suddenly, they are attacked by a giant snail (again...don’t ask, it ‘aint pretty) then a giant bat. They meet Dr. Christopher Ganyrog (who looks surprising like DC’s Adam Strange) Scientist Supreme. Hellcat figures out they are on the planet Yann and who is behind all the trouble, the planet’s previous Scientist Supreme, Yandroth! (There is a great reference to Julie Schwartz for those in the know). Ganyrog explains that Yandroth has been channeling the Order’s battle energy back into himself, hoping to be re-born, this time with god-like power at the cost of Yann! Back on Earth, most of Earth’s mightiest heroes plan out their attack while on Yann, Ganyrog explains they must defeat the Order without fighting! The heroes meet the Order...is a battle royale about to happen? The smoke ghost of Yandroth laughs from the citadel throne.|
The Order #6: They face each other; Earth’s greatest heroes and the Order: Strange, Hulk, Silver Surfer and Namor. They are about to collide. Yandroth observes the fracas...his shape taking more form as each moment passes...fed from the battle. Suddenly, the air above the battle crackles...and the Defenders arrive! The female analogues intercept the Order while the Little Three attempt to convince Earth’s heroes to stand down! Nighthawk gets a few moments to explain to Cap and Prof X about Yandroth’s use of the Big Four and his attempt at resurrection. However, it is not enough proof for them, and they push through to met their foes. Nighthawk summons Christopher Ganyrog and the Masters of the Mental Arts from Yann...they use inertia-sorb blasters to make sure no energy is released...none may attack the Order. Momentum is checked, power bolts drained, and like the non-team Defenders, a non-battle occurs. Papa Hagg arrives...he assembles the female analogues while the Little Three block the Order from conflict. The females are the correcting balance through the bonds each has with their counterpart, they are the "human" part which was lost. Suddenly, Hagg is struck by a bolt of energy from nowhere just as the heroes break through the Yannian Guard. The women heroes leap to the skies to block the attacks. Here is the climax: Each is pierced by a energy bolt...Clea is hit by Wasp’s which passes through her to then hit Strange. She-Hulk is hit by Cyclops’s blast which passes through her to strike the Hulk. Namorita is hit by Yellowjacket’s blast which then hits Namor. And, Ardina is hit by a laser blast (from either Mr. Fantastic or Nick Fury?) that pierces her and then strikes the Silver Surfer. This process returned humanity to the Big Four (NOTE: if you read the "Return of Superman" series you might remember that this is exactly how Supes got his full powers back after the Eradicator was blasted by the Cyborg Superman, the blast blew right through him and into the "real" Superman, a transfer of sorts). While everyone floats around dazed, Cap looks up to see a massive Yandroth (ah, we see who fried Hagg now!) who attempts to taunt the heroes into battle, but the Order intercedes. However, instead of fighting, they pull back. They realize that he wants them to fight...to get the energy he needs to finally become the being he so long desires...and as they watch, he grows enraged...but with no source of energy, he cannot fully convert...he begins to shrink to man-size. The Yannian Guard take him into custody as Strange and the Surfer return the Sky Island to its previous shape and awaken the Red Raven and his race. Earth’s heroes largely stand around and scratch their heads. The Big Four thank the Little Three in a touching (*sniff!*) reunion. Papa Hagg invites the analogue heroes to an island spa for a little R ‘n R. They seem to oblige! Meanwhile, Red Raven is not so happy...he wants the Order punished for their actions. Even Cap suggests that a reckoning must occur. A battle seems imminent after all, but the Big Four Defenders fly off, they have never been a part of the "normal" superhero world anyway. They are heading back to Manhattan, to their new HQ, when Gaea appears. She announces that she has ended Yandroth’s curse but asks that they continue to Defender her by choice. Strange says they will! The group gathers at HQ, meeting Valkyrie’s (Samantha Parrington’s) parents in the process. Privately, Nighthawk learns from Gaea that he has a new power, the ring he wears contains a small portion of her power which can be used to summon the Defenders at anytime, should the need arise, to safeguard the world in the future. The Defenders head off for a banquet to celebrate....th-th-th-that’s all folks!