S.W.O.R.D. #7 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #7S.W.O.R.D. #7 by Al Ewing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For the second time in its short seven issue run, S.W.O.R.D. is interrupted for a crossover. Previously that was King In Black, but this time it’s for The Last Annihilation. So far, four out of the seven issues of S.W.O.R.D. have been tie-ins to crossover events. Wait…wasn’t #6 a tie-in to the Hellfire Gala? So that means that only #s 1 and 5 have been nothing but pure, unadulterated S.W.O.R.D. It’s to Al Ewing’s credit that he’s managed to pull it off flawlessly.

For those not reading The Last Annihilation, of which I’m one, Ewing manages to tell a story that doesn’t make you feel hopelessly lost. I mean, it helps that I read Empyre and those issues of Captain Marvel that introduced Lauri-Ell, and I’m a Wiccan and Hulkling fan so I’m up to date with what’s going on with them…but still, I didn’t feel like I needed to have read something I haven’t read just to understand this comic. And all the bits with the Kree and the Mindless Ones were pretty cool.

And then there are the parts where Doctor Doom has dinner with Storm on the planet Arakko (formerly Mars). Ewing writes Storm as the goddess she is, and Doom as the arrogant shit he is.
Artistically, Schiti has long been a favourite of mine, and the book’s aesthetic stands up alongside the work of Larraz in the main X-Men book. Basically, this book is gorgeous.

All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book, but I’m very much looking forward to it finally settling into a proper arc of its own, free from crossovers and events.

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S.W.O.R.D. #6 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #6S.W.O.R.D. #6 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For those who shrugged and said, “Why should we care?” after the events of Planet Size X-Men, here’s your answer. As that specific question is levelled at Abigail Brand by the group of intergalactic diplomats who’s gathered on the Peake to witness the terraforming of Mars.

After all, what’s the terraforming of one planet to the Shi’ar Imperium?

But, of course, there’s more to it than that, and Brand’s revelation could turn the galactic economy on its head. Which, you know, should probably be boring, but it’s not boring when Al Ewing writes it.

And then Doom turns up and demands to know who’s king of the solar system. The answer is, of course, obvious, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet.

the final scene is one that’s been a long time coming and will certainly have major repercussions moving forward, but…once again…spoilers!

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S.W.O.R.D. #5 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #5S.W.O.R.D. #5 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabien Cortex is an entire bag of d**ks.

So, it’s a testament to the skills of Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti that they manage to make us feel sorry for Cortez while still reiterating that he is, indeed, an entire bag of d**ks.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, Amelia Voght is teleporting a mysterious assassin around and bumping off the various contenders in the Snarkwar…the war for the throne of the Zn’rk empire.

And these two seemingly unrelated plot points…Cortez being a bag of d**ks and the assassination of Zn’rk royalty are connected both thematically and plot wise. Which, you know, is kinda’ impressive. Well done, that man.

It’s also good to see the Arakko mutants finally have some involvement in one of the X-books. It was beginning to feel like X Of Swords was going to have no real ramifications, which would have been a shame.

And then there’s that big space warehouse full of mysterium…

(And Abigail Brand looks good in a green suit).

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S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #4 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #4S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #4 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This continues to be excellent and I’m very much looking forward to it being able to get on with doing what it does without also tying in to King In Black. But Ewing and Schiti have done an excellent job of tying in to King In Black and using it to further their own plot.

Manifold is the real revelation of this book so far. Last issue was magnificent and this issues fight with the Knull possessed Cable showcased exactly what Manifold is capable of.

And, on my, Frenzy! So good to see her back and kicking ass, and also good to see her time with Scott Summers in Age Of X referenced.

Fabian Cortez continues to be unable to catch a break, but it was amusing to see his pony tail survive where his face didn’t. Don’t worry, he’ll be back…and it seems that Magneto has plans for him…because that’s always gone well in the past…

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S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #3 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Manifold is a new character to me. I know he’s been around a while, in Hickman’s other work, and also in Black Panther, but I’ve not encountered him before…and he’s a really interesting character. A teleporter who’s not really a teleporter, but can talk to space and get it to do what he wants, whether that’s crossing vast distances in a single step, or cloaking him from view while he infiltrates the Alpha Flight space station and spies on Henry Gyrich.

And spy on Gryrich he does, and discovers that he’s working with ORCHIS, which is a very bad thing indeed. You see ORCHIS were the ones who were building a giant Master Mold in orbit around the sun…ORCHIS are the ones who are trying to create Nimrod.

We also see Manifold visit the Snarks, who are currently in the middle of Snarkwar, an all out war for the Snark throne. Being an old school Power Pack fan I always get excited when the Snarks appear. Manifold tries to recruit their aid in the fight against Knull, but they refuse to make a deal with him. Oh, yeah, did I mention this is a King In Black crossover? Because it is, but it’s done so well that it just feels like a natural part of the story.

Of course we’re reminded on the final page that Knull has taken over Krakoa by possessing Cable. But I guess we’ll be dealing with that next issue…

Anyway, this stuff is great, Ewing is an exceptional writer, and Schiti, who’s aided here by Ray-Anthony Height (another artist I’ve inked in the past) and Bernand Chang (although you can’t see the joins, thanks, in part, to Marte Gracia’s superb colouring), is an exceptional artist.

Bring on S.W.O.R.D. #4!

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S.W.O.R.D. #2 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. #2S.W.O.R.D. #2 by Al Ewing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest, I could have done without the King In Black storyline crossing over into the X-books. I’ve been reading the main King In Black book out of morbid curiosity, but it really hasn’t grabbed me, but if any writer was going to take it on them I’m glad that it was Al Ewing, because he’s done a great job…especially as tying into a major crossover in its second issue could have completely killed the momentum after what was a superb first issue.

The focus is still very much on S.W.O.R.D. and their personnel, and the deep dives into the history of the Marvel universe continue this issue, as Mentallo is added to the restore, as the best telepath Abigail Brand could find. And, like, the only telepath she could find….given that Nate Grey has gone missing (hope he hasn’t got himself possessed by a symbiote or anything…).

There is more great stuff with Cortex this issue, a sentence that I thought I’d never type, as his old, scheming self comes to the fore. I seriously doubt that Magneto is likely to fall for his old tricks, don’t worry…but it’s fun watching Cortez think he might.

The art is utterly jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Valerio Schiti has been a favourite of mine for a while now, and I hope he stays on this book for a long time. He and Al Ewing certainly make an amazing team!

Really, the only think I disliked about this issue was that it ties into King In Black, but it’s still an excellent comic.

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S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #1 by Al Ewing

S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #1S.W.O.R.D. (2020-) #1 by Al Ewing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was pretty much perfect. Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti has teamed up to bring us the future of mutantkind and it’s rather mind blowing.

That said, my first thought was, “What the hell is Fabian Cortez doing here?” Amusingly enough, that was exactly Magneto’s reaction too. The Cortez stuff was really funny, especially when Magneto greets Peeper as a long lost friend, but couldn’t even remember Cortez’s name.

Ewing and Schiti also manage to do the impossible in making Wiz-Kid cool. And he’s SO cool. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him over the coming months.

And then there’s the end of the book, in which we’re taken on an almost 2001-esque journey across the cosmos, during which a…thing…is recovered. What is that thing? Well, I suspect that finding the answer to that is going to be the point of this series going forward.

All in all, S.W.O.R.D. #1 delivers on its promise and more so. I can’t wait to read more!

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