I love history. Thanks to Sleepy Hollow, I’ve come to love twistory, that thing where clever writers take known history and turn it on its ear for a dramatic/comedic purpose. And when I picked up The Order of the Forge #1, that’s what I was expecting. It both is and isn’t what I got.
I have two degrees in history, specializing in colonial and revolutionary-era American history. I’m not saying this to act like an authority on the time period, really I’m not. I’m just saying that I’ve read and written a lot about the Founding Fathers, basically “living” with them for years at a time. Because of this, it’s sometimes hard to put what I know about them to the side and just enjoy a story. I liked The Order of the Forge a lot, but there were some things that distracted me and took me out of the story. I’ll start with those.
First and foremost, George Washington was one of my ginger brethren in real life, and in the pages of this comic he had black hair. Tiny detail, I know, but jarring enough to take me out of the story a bit. Then there’s Paul Revere and George Washington working together as servants in Philadelphia. (George was in fact in Philadelphia in both military and governing capabilities over the years, but Paul wasn’t, and certainly not in 1753. And I’m not really sure why the decision was made to make them servants.) George and Paul certainly weren’t helping Ben Franklin with his experiments with electricity, but what the hell, I went with that just like I went with Ben first turning up in a whorehouse. He’s Ben Franklin, after all, and that’s where popular culture expects him to be.
Unlikely setting and friendships put aside, The Order of the Forge does have some fun moments. Washington going to town on his father’s cherry tree with an axe is one of my favorite bits, particularly the way he phrases his resentment towards it in thoroughly modern language. Victor Gischler’s tongue is planted firmly in cheek throughout the comic, especially when spinning these myths that everyone “knows” about the Founders (like Ben and the whorehouse), but he has a knack for character as well. There’s a plot involving an Anglo-Indian woman, Lady Kate, who is trying to figure out her place in the colonies and in her uncle’s house. Kate’s character (and her uncle’s plans for colonial domination) were the most interesting parts of the story for me.
It’s these two characters that have ensured that I’m going to read issue #2 (although I probably would have picked it up just for the Ben Franklin content, let’s be real). I’m just going to have the battle of fact vs. fiction going on in my head as I read, because so far the twistory of The Order of the Forge hasn’t swept me up enough to make me stop thinking about facts. I hope it gets there eventually, but in the meantime, I give issue #1 3.5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
THE ORDER OF THE FORGE #1
Creator: Donn D. Berdahl
Script: Victor Gischler
Art: Tazio Bettin
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover Art: Juan Ferreyra
Original Character Design: Ernesto Ochoa
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: April 29, 2015
And don’t forget to check out my interview with Victor Gishler, where he gives us some insight into the how and why of this particular twistorical adventure!