Daredevil #604 has unveiled The Order of the Dragon - a secretive group of Catholic warrior-priests who have battled against the darkness for centuries. Marvel's answer to the legends of the Knights Templar, the Order of the Dragon has emerged to help Matt Murdock save New York from the Hand.
Charles Soule's "Mayor Fisk" storyline has plunged New York into chaos. The Hand have struck New York in force, and the city's heroes are desperately attempting to drive them back. With Mayor Fisk in a coma, Matt Murdock has become Mayor of New York, and he's commanding the city's superheroes and police force in battle against the Hand. But #603 ended with Matt struck down by a mysterious gas, left unconscious. As clouds of mystic smoke swept across the city, a figure emerged from the shadows to help Matt. It was Father Jordan, Matt's priest, clad in a strange garb.
Daredevil #604 reveals that Father Jordan isn't just a parish priest. He's also a member of a secret Catholic group of warrior-priests known as the Order of the Dragon, who have fought to protect the Earth from supernatural threats for centuries. The Order Draconum was founded by King Sigismund Von Luxembourg of Hungary in 1408, and was initially used to protect the king's empire from threats.
About a hundred years later, the Order of the Dragon went underground, now working to protect humanity itself. In the 16th century, they fought vampires. The 17th saw the Order battle the Plague Zombies, and in the 18th they battled against the Fjord Queens. The vampires returned in the 19th century, but again were driven back; and it seems in the 20th, the Order fought against Nazi shark-mutants!
Surprisingly enough, writer Charles Soule has based the Order of the Dragon on a group who really existed. King Sigismund Von Luxembourg is an actual figure from history, and in 1408 he really did found the Order of the Dragon after the fashion of the different orders who served in the Crusades. Daredevil #604 is actually sprinkled with imagery that really does run all the way back to the Order of the Dragon, right down to their sigils and insignia.
Even that whistle-stop history of Order Draconum activity throughout the ages has its basis in history and legend. Some of the oldest vampire legends originate in the 16th century; the 17th century is famous for the bubonic plague; global temperatures worldwide really did drop throughout the 18th century, and the winter of winter of 1794–1795 was particularly harsh in the Northern Hemisphere. Bram Stoker's Dracula was written in 1897, and Dracula's an actual Marvel villain, so it makes sense that the Order took on vampires around that time. Amusingly, Father Jordan reveals that Van Helsing was actually a member of the Order Draconum. Apparently he died fighting a Yeti-demon in Nepal.
It seems the Order has never been numerous; Father Jordan only manages to bring in 20 soldiers to help in the battle against the Hand. But they're tremendously skilled warriors, and appropriately enough they can actually fly. With the help of the Order Draconum, Daredevil finally manages to begin to gain ground in the war for New York.
When the dust settles from the "Mayor Fisk" arc, the Order of the Dragon will no doubt go down as one of the most important and imaginative twists in Soule's tale. Soule's run is one of the best in decades, easily standing alongside the likes of Frank Miller and Mark Waid. It's surely only a matter of time before some of these arcs are adapted into Netflix's popular Daredevil series - and this imaginative idea is definitely an attractive one.
Daredevil #604 is available now from Marvel.