2000AD doesn’t set stories in medieval fantasy worlds very often but The Order: Die Mensch Maschine has more than enough of a nod to sci-fi to get it through the filter. As we join the story, Anna Kohl is searching for answers to the mysteries of her life by tracking down the remains of her father, who was the founding member of a team of fantasy superheroes (for want of a better analogy), keeping the world safe from irregular incursions of giant worm creatures from another dimension.
With his remains she discovers the head of Ritterstahl, a mysterious automaton, who literally reboots himself and can interface with a recently deceased body to use as a host for his computer head. With guns and other steampunk-inspired contraptions mixed up with the swords and spears, Anna finds the world in dire need of a new team of heroes, so takes it upon herself to restart The Order, her father’s original team.
There are two striking elements about this book. The first is writer Kek-W’s brilliant characterisation and razor-sharp dialogue. Despite their unusualness, all the characters are grounded and well-rounded. The plot of the two stories collected here felt a little light but when it’s so wonderfully dressed in such fine characters it becomes less of a problem. The other highlight is John Burns’ art, which fuses the fantasy and sci-fi worlds brilliantly, leaning heavily on the medieval setting but blending in Ritterstahl’s unusually modern aspects perfectly.