Started by Tony Stark as part of the Initiative to redistribute America's superhuman protection. The California division of the Initiative was first to be called the "Champions", reminiscent of the short-lived team based in Los Angeles. This was soon changed to "The Order". In addition to its duties, the team is being used as a social experiment: there are eleven members, each with powers based on Greek gods, but each set of powers is removable and repeatable. Thus, if a member breaks the team's rules, their powers can be removed and another person can take their place. After a year, each member will also be stripped of their powers and codenames and return to civilian life, at which point eleven new civilians will replace the former team.
The team is comprised largely of celebrities known for making a difference through charitable work, and through a process involving a viral genomech payload developed by Hank Pym each one is given superpowers modeled on the pantheon of Greek gods and trained at a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Arizona. However, this process causes great strain on human bodies allowing the users limited time as superhuman (roughly a year).
After defeating Infernal Man, some members failed to follow the morals clause in their contract by going out drinking, and were subsequently fired and had their powers removed. Their replacements, Milo Fields, Mulholland Black, Magdalena Marie, and Becky Ryan were given different powers.
The team would come into conflict with various villains, most with a connection to General Softly and the mysterious "M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W." military group, including hordes of Zobos (mechanized zombie hobos), Cold War supervillians, Gamma monsters, Namor, and an all girl gang called the Black Dahlias who have been given superpowers via the same process as The Order by M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W. as well as deal with a murder case involving a former Order member.
The team is later evicted from its Bradbury, California headquarters and the M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W. is revealed to be a collection of General Softly Androids first devised by the Super Human Development and Operation (S.H.D.O.) fifty year before; around the time of the real General Samuel Softly's death, and now part of a collection of villains (including Black Dahlias and Maul) led by the son of Iron Man enemy Obadiah Stane.
Quote from Matt Fraction regarding The Order: "The Order is a modern superhero book, in terms of how it's been created and how it's managed, and, behind the scenes, in terms of how Barry and I are telling their stories. But below the surface, everything about the team-- how it's run, who's on it, and what they can do -- follows a classical tradition by being modeled after the Greek pantheon of Gods... the first Order, if you will, of heroes. Inside and out, The Order is organized around the same principals that held together those twelve legends. Tony Stark sits on top, playing the role of Zeus. His girl Friday and the on-site leader of The Order is Pepper Potts, playing the symbolic role of Hera. And on and on, down through the ranks. All of our characters have a mythical, symbolic role they fulfill, along with their quite-literal new superhuman identities.
"The Greek gods were really kind of the original superhero team-- and if (artist) Barry Kitson and I were going to be launching a superhero team of our own, it seemed like following the order of the oldest and the best wasn't such a bad idea!"
The Order was originally to be called The Champions
- 16 Order (Initiative) (Earth-616) Members
- 26 Appearances of Order (Initiative) (Earth-616)
- Minor Appearances of Order (Initiative) (Earth-616)
- 3 Media Order (Initiative) (Earth-616) was Mentioned in
- 3 Images that include Order (Initiative) (Earth-616)
- Team Gallery: Order (Initiative) (Earth-616)