I’ve long been interested in alternate history and things of that ilk, so when I first heard the premise of Victor Gischler and Tazio Bettin’s The Order of the Forge published by Dark Horse Comics, I was intrigued. And, upon reading the trade paperback comprised of the first three issues, I was riveted from the beginning.
An action-filled and gloriously ribald re-imagining of our colonial history, it starts with a twenty-one-year-old George Washington taking an axe to the legendary cherry tree in anger following an argument with his father, which awakens an ancient native spirit that gives him a power that is as much a curse as it is a blessing. Fleeing to Philadelphia, he enters the employ of the ruthlessly ambitious Lord Hammond, who through occult research hopes to find a long lost and powerful weapon that will allow him to carry out a sinister and treasonous plan. To prevent Hammond from attaining his goal, Washington teams up with Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin (who I am pleased to see is portrayed, in contrast to sanitized schoolbook accounts, as every bit the dissolute voluptuary that he was), and Lord Hammond’s niece Kate, with whom Washington develops a certain amount of romantic tension. Along the way, thanks to a crucial bolt of lightning and Washington’s axe, all of them are invested with superhuman powers which stand them in good stead as they battle Hammond, his henchmen, and his wolves, as well as some undead Vikings they meet along the way.
Tazio Bettin’s art is quite dynamic, with an eye for detail and rich color which adds to the enjoyment. Several pages of character sketches are included at the end, and between the chapters we have some excellent additional art by Juan Ferreyra, who also did the cover.
Overall, this was a decidedly fun read which I’d recommend to history buffs, alternative history enthusiasts, or just anyone who likes a good story.