S.W.O.R.D. #1

S.W.O.R.D. #1 Review

S.W.O.R.D. #1

X Of Swords was not a perfect crossover event. It had its fair shares of ups and downs. But when all was said and done X Of Swords created even more opportunity for the X-Men franchise to continue to expand in intriguing ways. One of those ways is for the Quiet Council expanding Krakoa’s reach beyond Earth. That is something they briefly touched on with several missions in the past but X Of Swords looks to have accelerated how far they want to take Krakoa’s reach. To accomplish that the Quiet Council have decided to team with Abigail Brand to create a new version of S.W.O.R.D. With this new initiative what will it mean for the greater Marvel Universe? Let’s find out with S.W.O.R.D. #1.

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist: Valerio Schiti

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Magneto teleports into the S.W.O.R.D. space station one, Peak. Cable (the Security Director of S.W.O.R.D.) along with his SubDirectors, Random and Risque, welcomes Magneto to Peak. Magneto reveals he is there to inspect S.W.O.R.D. on behalf of the Quiet Council.

Magneto then begins using his powers to move Peak around much to Cable’s surprise he is able to move the space station.

Station Commander Abigail Brand shows up and takes over escorting Magneto through Peak. After a tense conversation Commander Brand takes Magneto to the Technology Suite (named “The Red Zone”) where Wiz-Kid is running experiments to see if Krakoan plant-tech is able to bond with Peak’s original system, something that ends up working perfectly. Magneto compliments Wiz-Kid for the work he is doing and labels him one of the architects of Krakoa’s future. Commander Brand reminds Wiz-Kid of their mission that starts in a little bit and then takes Magneto away.

While they walk through the rest of Peak Magneto notices Commander Brand is not in a good mood. Commander Brand brings up Magneto’s whole “Krakoa’s Future” speech. Magneto says that while The Six of S.W.O.R.D. (Wiz-Kid, Armor, Manifold, Peeper, Risque and Fabian Cortez) aren’t as essential as The Five they are still important to contributing in building the future. Commander Brand wonders if this future is just for Krakoa. Magneto reminds Commander Brand she is part of Krakoa. Commander Brand reminds Magneto she works with the Quiet Council as part of their agreement but does not work for Krakoa.

Commander Brand then goes over how there is so much going on in the universe and previously did not have the resources with Alpha Flight to make S.W.O.R.D. efficiently work in protecting the universe. With that said while she is grateful for Krakoa’s help Magneto should know that she cannot be only concerned about the interest of one island while taking care of the bigger picture of protecting Earth and Sol.

S.W.O.R.D. #1
Commander Abigail Brand makes it clear what S.W.O.R.D. mission statement is to Magneto in S.W.O.R.D. #1 click for full page view.

Magneto reminds Commander Brand that Peak is staffed by mutants and is a mutant space program. He then asks if S.W.O.R.D. speaks for Sol who speaks for S.W.O.R.D.

Magneto and Commander Brand then go meet Frenzy in the Diplomatic Suite One called “The Stranger Room.” There Frenzy defeats Paibok of the Kree/Skrull Alliance in a ceremonial fight while giving him a tour of Peak. Paibok says he is impressed with S.W.O.R.D. and will make recommendations to his leadership accordingly.

Paibok does bring up there are still issues they must address much to Magneto’s confusion. Commander Brand reveals that labeling Scarlet Witch, who is the mother-in-law of Emperor Hulking through his marriage to Wiccan, an enemy of Krakoa is not ideal. Magneto whispers Wanda’s name while calling her “The Pretender.”

Magneto quickly changes subjects to the mission of The Six and heads over to meet with them. Paicon asks Frenzy if she knows Magneto well. Frenzy reveals she once worshipped Magneto.

Elsewhere Fabian Cortez reintroduces himself to Magneto by getting down on one knee and calling Magneto “Lord” in order to get on his good side. Magneto takes Commander Brand to the side and asks why she made Fabian Cortez one of The Six. Commander Brand says that the choices were small with such short notice.

Over at the Jump Suite The Six along with Manifold’s Teleport Team made up of Blink, Lila Cheney, Gateway, Vanisher, and Amelia Voght. Wiz-Kid tells Magneto that with his skills he has been able to get mutant technology to work with the Teleport Team’s powers to give them the power needed to get them anywhere they need to be.

Magneto is then surprised to see Pepper is part of The Six. Pepper says his eyes come in handy on missions and when he is not on missions he is able to do his Analysis work.

As Magneto and Pepper continue to catch up Fabian Cortez is stunned by their interaction. Commander Brand tells Fabian Cortez to stop getting distracted and get in position.

With everyone in position Manifold leads the Teleport Team to open a portal through the Multiverse. As The Six go through the First Stage named Translocation to their mission Magneto cannot help but be impressed at what he is seeing.

The Six then get to the Second Stage known as Manifestation/Retrieval. At this stage Armor channels her powers through The Six so everyone can have a Psionic Exoskeleton-Armor to protect them. The Six then enter the Multiverse portal.

The Six make it into the Land of Couldn’t-Be Shouldn’t-Be. While they struggle through their journey The Six make it into the White-Hot Room. There The Six work together grab an item.

In Peak, Magneto tells Commander Brand that they are now have a geostationary orbit over Krakoa. Commander tells Magneto to be quiet as she detects something. Commander Brand then orders the Teleport Team to maintain their connection with Manifold and bring The Six back home. The Teleportation Team successfully bring The Six back to Peak.

Manifold talks about what they saw and shows that they were Mysterium Tremendum back with them. Stunned by The Six’s success Magneto admits that while S.W.O.R.D. is the mutant space program what Commander Brand and the others are doing is beyond anything what the Quiet Council could dream of.

Commander Brand smiles as she takes the Mysterium Tremnendum and tells everyone “This is what comes next.” End of issue.

The Good: S.W.O.R.D. #1 is a definition of a set-up issue. That is in no means a bad thing as Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti make sure to maximize the page count they are given for the story and providing information on concepts introduced in S.W.O.R.D. #1 .

What makes S.W.O.R.D. #1 standout from how other X-Men series have started since House of X and Powers of X is that this is the first series that feels like a genuine expansion of the franchise. S.W.O.R.D. isn’t just some new team that falls under the Krakoa umbrella. Everything that we see in S.W.O.R.D. #1 shows that this series is about taking what’s already been established for this era of the X-Men and taking it to the next level. That next level is what does it look like when the X-Men actually put in a full effort into expanding their reach beyond not only their island nation but also Earth.

Having Abigail Brand take the lead in this expansion is the perfect choice. Abigail Brand has a long history with the X-Men as she debut during Josh Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men run. Since then we have seen Abigail Brand’s status as a Nick Fury-like figure in the Marvel Universe only further expanded on as she has interacted with the Avengers and other Marvel heroes. All of that development has built an aura of credibility that when we see Abigail Brand in a comic book that the reader understands she is a person of authority.

S.W.O.R.D. #1
Details on who The Six are as shown in S.W.O.R.D. #1 click for full page view.

Ewing takes that credibility to instantly make everything Abigail Brand says and does as Commander of the new S.W.O.R.D. be something you do not question. Which works extremely well against Magneto’s role in S.W.O.R.D. #1 as the Quiet Council’s representative to see what Commander Brand has done on the Peak space station. Magneto constantly talking to Commander Brand as if he is her superior because he is a Quiet Council member and founder of Krakoa was a good way of channeling what was expected from the new S.W.O.R.D. Everything Magneto says you get is also the belief of Charles Xavier and Krakoa’s Quiet Council as they are bank rolling S.W.O.R.D. now.

That is where Commander Brand making it clear that while she is working alongside the Quiet Council it does not mean that S.W.O.R.D. only works for Krakoa standout even more. What made Commander Brand’s speech here work so well is that she calls Magneto out on his line of thinking being too small. If S.W.O.R.D. is to work now that it falls under the X-Men umbrella Commander Brand and those running it need to take the greater Marvel Universe into account. That is well backed up with how we’ve seen small minded thinking impact the way things ended up going most recently in Empyre and X Of Swords.

Which made the mission that The Six of S.W.O.R.D. go on in the second half of this issue even more important. It wasn’t enough for Magneto to hear this from Commander Brand. As arrogant as a person Magneto is he needs to see with his own eyes why everything Commander Brand told him was a fact. The adventure into the White-Hot Room is a great way to establish the larger-than life scale of things that S.W.O.R.D. will be taking on. Because it isn’t just about things going on in other planets. There is an established Multiverse that must also be considered as things that should be monitored.

The mission also works in establishing why The Six of S.W.O.R.D. will be an important group within the franchise moving forward. Yes, The Six of S.W.O.R.D. are a random assembly of characters with specific powers. Commander Brand admitting that she put The Six of S.W.O.R.D. together quickly was a good character moment. It did not take away from the importance of The Six of S.W.O.R.D. because we do see how Commander Brand has confidence in her choices for the team through the mission they go on. Wiz-Kid, Armor, Manifold, Peeper, Risque and Fabian Cortez all brought something different to the table to make the mission in the White-Hot Room a success.

Adding in how there are also branches to the structure of this version of S.W.O.R.D further added to how Commander Brand has thought this through well. Even with having to rush the formation of S.W.O.R.D now that she is working with Krakoa the experience Commander Brand has allows her to understand what is needed for this type of group to run. It further adds to how having freedom to run S.W.O.R.D the way she wants will be key in making this expansion from Krakoa’s side work.

The fact that everyone we see in Peak not questioning any orders added to that. Because it would be easy to see someone like Cable or Wiz-Kid quickly try to assert their position to even Commander Brand. But that does not happen. There is a maturity that needs to come from even the young members of S.W.O.R.D to make this all work.

At the same time Ewing makes sure to let each character we see working for S.W.O.R.D shine. Whether its Wiz-Kid nerding out with Magneto about how he has integrated Krakoa’s tech with Peak or Frenzy bringing up her past worshipping Magneto, every X-Men character had a moment to show their personalities. It gave S.W.O.R.D #1 a sense of history to what is taking place while further establishing how this series is about moving forward with a bigger picture in mind.

Speaking of big picture, Ewing also made good use of what we saw established in Empyre with the Kree-Skrull Alliance to further this series concept. Having ties to what is going on in the greater Marvel Universe opens the door for S.W.O.R.D to explore mutants relationship with the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and other groups. It also makes tie-ins to bigger events like King In Black make more sense for S.W.O.R.D to involved in because the mission statement for the organization does position them as Earth’s first line of defense for those type of threats. This furthers the whole idea that even if Krakoa is now bank rolling S.W.O.R.D it does not mean they will be limited to only protecting mutant interest.

S.W.O.R.D. #1
The Six of S.W.O.R.D first mission takes them to the White-Hot Room in S.W.O.R.D. #1 click for full page view.

Valerio Schiti does a fantastic job making S.W.O.R.D #1 look like the coolest comic around. The design for each of the characters and how their costumes all differ depending on the branches of S.W.O.R.D they work for is so cool. There is a clear overarching design that makes it clear they all work for S.W.O.R.D but each character is given room to alter their costumes to fit their personalities. It’s a little touch that goes a long way in giving this series a style that feels its own.

Schiti also nails all the big cosmic-level storytelling that Ewing was aiming for. At all times you are very aware that this series is involved in the greater Marvel Universe through all the visuals. That is further amplified with how intense Schiti made the entire mission in the White-Hot Room look as we do see The Six of S.W.O.R.D struggle even with all the powers they have.

The Bad: Nothing.

Overall: S.W.O.R.D. #1 accomplishes everything you can hope for from a first issue of a new comic book series. Al Ewing establishes the new mission statement for this version of S.W.O.R.D. and how it ties into what is going on with the X-Men franchise post-X Of Swords. In the process we get a firm understanding of who each member of the cast is and what their roles will be moving forward. Valerio Schiti further elevates all of this with how he gives S.W.O.R.D a vibe that just makes this series feel cool from character design to the setting of the Peak space station.

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