Marvel’s SWORD #1 asks big cosmic questions concerning the X-Men’s future

Marvel’s SWORD #1 asks huge cosmic questions about the X-Men’s future

Earth is just too small for mutantkind. The previous yr and a half of X-Men comics — launched underneath the Dawn of X banner — have considerably grown the property by resurrecting lifeless mutants, unifying the entire warring factions, and introducing a complete world of recent characters.

Now it’s time to go even greater, and that begins with S.W.O.R.D., a brand new sequence establishing the mutant house program.

Who is making S.W.O.R.D.?

The present king of Cosmic Marvel, Al Ewing, reunites together with his Empyre collaborators: artist Valerio Schiti and colorist Marte Gracia. That summer season occasion highlighted this crew’s capacity to ship massive spectacle, however S.W.O.R.D. faucets deeper into Ewing’s ability for writing structured superhero ensembles (see: numerous Avengers sequence, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Immortal Hulk).

S.W.O.R.D. pushes Schiti’s character work, each by way of expression and design, and Gracia’s colours give the sequence additional gravitas by visually tying it to his earlier work on the X-line. Gracia has coloured among the most vital comics of the Krakoa period (House Of X/Powers Of X and the X Of Swords one-shots), and his particular coloring aesthetic has grow to be an indicator that one thing massive is occurring. Letterer Ariana Maher and designer Tom Muller spherical out the artistic crew, and everybody will get a chance to indicate off on this first subject.

What is S.W.O.R.D. about?

The X-Men are going to house. Mutants have made their island nation, Krakoa, a political superpower on Earth, and now they’re increasing out into the celebs by reviving the Sentient World Observation and Response Department (S.W.O.R.D.). The Peak, S.W.O.R.D.’s satellite tv for pc base of operations, is again on-line and run by its unique director, the half-mutant half-alien Abigail Brand, who works with a employees of mutants to increase Krakoa’s presence within the identified universe whereas additionally charting a path into the nice unknown.

Why is it taking place now?

The Dawn of X is over. Despite an onslaught of threats from completely different sides, mutants have emerged triumphant, and the latest X Of Swords crossover marked a turning level within the Krakoa period. Welcome to the Reign of X, when mutants cease enjoying protection and begin making strikes to achieve energy on a cosmic scale. S.W.O.R.D. was launched in Astonishing X-Men, so it is smart for the group to symbolize mutantkind because it ventures off-world, however as this primary subject makes clear, S.W.O.R.D. stays an unbiased entity with the highest precedence of defending the bigger photo voltaic system.

A Marvel promotional collage of dozens of X-Men heroes and villains, from Storm and Mr. Patch to Nimrod and Cyclops, for Reign of X (2020).

SWORD #1 has already revealed among the teases within the Reign of X teaser collage.
Image: Mahmud Asrar/Marvel Comics

And who higher to write down S.W.O.R.D. than the particular person at present overseeing Marvel’s cosmic panorama. This has been a landmark yr for Al Ewing at Marvel: writing his first summer season occasion with Empyre, launching an impressive new Guardians Of The Galaxy ongoing, and persevering with his groundbreaking run on Immortal Hulk. Given his ardour for Marvel continuity, it was solely a matter of time earlier than he obtained a crack on the dense mythology of the X-Men, and S.W.O.R.D. is the proper title for him to make his merry mutant debut. It ties into the work he’s doing in his different sequence whereas giving him a huge new sandbox to play with, and one of many massive thrills of S.W.O.R.D. #1 is seeing which toys Ewing digs up.

Is there any required studying?

You’ll positively wish to know the present state of mutants to leap into S.W.O.R.D. #1. Reading the 12-part House Of X/Powers Of X miniseries is one of the best place to begin, however these are the important items of knowledge: mutants have their very own sovereign nation, Krakoa, they usually can’t die. This subject additionally makes reference to “The Five”, a quintet of mutants who perform as Krakoa’s resurrection engine, and “The Council,” the 12-person group that leads the mutant nation.

Empyre: Aftermath Avengers options the primary look of the brand new S.W.O.R.D., and that subject supplies loads of context for what’s taking place within the bigger Marvel Universe, together with a latest Ewing-penned two-parter in Guardians Of The Galaxy #7-8. Cable #5, an X Of Swords tie-in, explains what occurred within the remaining days of S.W.O.R.D.’s previous iteration, however all of that is recapped in S.W.O.R.D. #1.

Is S.W.O.R.D. good?

S.W.O.R.D. #1 begins with a daring proclamation: “This is what comes subsequent.” And if this primary subject is any indication of what the X-line’s future holds, readers have loads to stay up for. This opening hits on a lot of what makes the Krakoa period thrilling, assembling a deep bench of characters and placing them in conditions that take full benefit of each their interpersonal relationships and mutant superpowers. The majority of this chapter follows S.W.O.R.D.’s Council liaison, Magneto, as he excursions the Peak house station, introducing him and readers to the group, its base, and its employees.

What grounds S.W.O.R.D. is a office dynamic, and even with the entire improbable trappings, it’s a narrative a couple of group of individuals making an attempt to maintain an enormous safety facility working easily. Everyone has their particular roles, which provides the narrative a powerful sense of function. Humor is vital to creating this office come to life, whether or not it’s Wiz-Kid’s snarky swagger or the common hatred of S.W.O.R.D.’s “that guy:” Fabian Cortez. A stand-out scene between Magneto, Fabian, and Peeper (a deep-cut Jack Kirby creation from the ’70s) exhibits how a lot enjoyable Ewing is having with the intertwining histories of those characters, and Schiti makes use of these comedic beats to intensify character expressions and distinguish their personalities. Schiti’s costume designs are useful and trendy, and giving every division a uniform aesthetic strengthens the organizational construction and brings crew members collectively.

Character designs for Wiz-Kid, who wears black and red pants, and a red and black jacket with a high zip collar over a loose white and black t-shirt. He wears classes, earrings, dark blue hair, and uses a red, hovering wheelchair.

Image: Valerio Schiti/Marvel Comics

Character designs for Abigail Brand, who wears a tight green an black unitard, with green boots and a black and green jacket and sunglasses. Her hair and lipstick are, likewise, green.

Image: Valerio Schiti/Marvel Comics

It’s been fascinating seeing how completely different sequence use the info pages that are actually customary throughout the X-line, and S.W.O.R.D.’s three knowledge pages showcase the flexibility of this storytelling machine. The first is the S.W.O.R.D. organizational chart, breaking down completely different divisions and their key employees members. There’s a small however vital visible shift right here because the usually black-and-white knowledge pages welcome shade, with every division assigned a unique shade. This aesthetic development subtly reinforces the guide’s position in driving the complete line ahead. The different two knowledge pages supply perception in very other ways: Agent Brand’s private log clarifies her motivation and expectations for the brand new S.W.O.R.D., and a Mutant Technology part supplies an summary of a mysterious new configuration of mutants.

That remaining knowledge web page units up the problem’s spectacular setpiece, a second when each particular person on the artistic crew flexes exhausting. The knowledge web page presents loads of data (and teases) in a concise, visually putting means, and Ewing places his personal twist on the machine by having the ultimate sentence of the info web page keep on immediately into the narration of the next sequence. Maher’s lettering switches into an all-caps block typeface, the letters outlined in colours that shift via the rainbow spectrum because the characters go on their very own multihued house odyssey.

Schiti’s layouts break free from straight rectangular bins to dynamic preparations of diagonal panels, and Gracia pumps up the depth of the colour to depict a real journey into thriller. The acceleration of the motion paired with the extravagant narration offers this sequence a totally completely different tone than the pages that got here earlier than, reminding readers that this isn’t your typical office. After offering a really pragmatic introduction to the group, S.W.O.R.D. #1 ends with a wave of questions on what precisely the group is doing and what this implies for the way forward for mutants, constructing loads of anticipation for not simply the following chapter of this sequence, however the subsequent part of this complete line.

One panel that popped

(LtR) Risque, Fabian Cortez, Peeper, Manifold, Wiz-Kid, and Armor collapse. “Sooo... we... ...we just broke some laws. Cosmic ones...” groans Wiz-Kid. “Yeah,” grouses Manifold, in SWORD #1, Marvel Comics (2020).

Image: Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti/Marvel Comics

Breaking cosmic regulation is definitely a method for mutants to announce themselves to the remainder of the universe. It’s in all probability going to finish up simply wonderful for everybody concerned.

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