Sometimes you come across a premise that is so beautifully bat-shit insane that you can't help but take a pause and just let it all sink in. The Order is that premise.
Die Mensch Maschine is the first trade collection from The Order, a story ripped from the pages of 2000 AD by scribe Kek- W, letterer Annie Parkhouse and art droid John Burns, the latter of who is still producing incredible work even his advanced age.
How to describe The Order. It's about Teutonic robot knights, time travel, steam punk, giant invading alien worms and romance. I wasn't kidding about the bat-shit part, but I'll be damned if it isn't a solid, fun read.
Die Mensch Maschine contains two stories, each set in different time periods. We begin in medieval Europe as the tale of the German knight Kohl is being told as he stood against the Wolf Nation (a literal army of werewolves) and ultimately fell. The storyteller quickly discovers that the lady in his presence is Anna Kohl, the knight's daughter, who is looking for information on how her father met his demise. We soon find out that the storyteller isn't all he seems as he transforms into a wolf and dukes it out with Anna - this scene being one of the most grounded in the book. Anna is told her father was a member of the Order, a secret society of warriors and great minds who banded together to destroy wurms - an alien race who are invading reality through different time streams. Oh, and that's after Ritterstahl comes to the fore - a mechanical German knight who exists only as a head when he's found.
What follows is a dive into a supremely weird adventure, filled with action (Medieval rocket launchers, anyone?) and historical nonsense, but it a good way. Burns excels with historical art and it's clear here that it's something he's incredibly comfortable with. Nothing seems static, everything flows, which makes for some great action sequences. His characterisation is top notch and on the whole this is a brilliant book to just look at.
The second story, The Court of the Wyrm Queen, is set in the late 16th century, but i feel like saying any more would spoil the book. It's safe to say that this second part is even better, upping the story ante and taking the weirdness to a whole new level.
If you love history and science fiction, The Order is tailor made for you. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: a copy of this book was sent to me for review.