Al Ewing made his name known at Marvel with Immortal Hulk and showed that he could handle space epics with Guardians of the Galaxy and Empyre. Working together with the incredible team behind the current X-Men books, Ewing has turned his sights to the newest iteration of Marvel’s S.W.O.R.D. Now partnered with the mutant homeland of Krakoa, S.W.O.R.D. sets out to unite the world for cooperation with people across the galaxy. With the Kree-Skrull Alliance working toward diplomatic communication with their former enemies and Knull (unknown to Earth at the time) threatening the safety of every planet, S.W.O.R.D. seeks to prevent threats to their solar system.
Ewing has proven himself as a fantastic writer. His work on Immortal Hulk made me invested in a character I always had a difficult time understanding. Empyre showed that he can handle larger scale stories with a wide cast of superpowered characters. After Jonathan Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men, I assumed we would get a new take on a space-fairing X-Men team like Alpha Flight. You can imagine how surprised I was when S.W.O.R.D. was announced as the newest X-Book, and even more so when I saw the mutants that would make up the team.
Abilgail Brand has always been a mainstay with S.W.O.R.D. and since she is a mutant, she technically falls under Krakoan nationality. This allowed a joint communication between S.W.O.R.D. and the Quiet Council of Krakoa. Because of this, the mutants have seemingly taken control of S.W.O.R.D., while Abigail Brand attempts to spread their reach across all of Earth. However, it seems Magneto may have a different plan for S.W.O.R.D.’s new base of operation. This issue follows Magneto as he both tours The Hangar and puts it into orbit.
On this tour, we meet the team known as “The Six.” Similar to The Five as seen in X-Factor, The Six are in charge of transportation from “The Hangar.” The Six is made up of the mutants Wiz-Kid, a technopath, Fabian Cortez, who boosts energy sources, Armor, who creates a protective exoskeleton, Manifold, who can fold space, Peeper, who has telescopic and microscopic vision, and Risque, who generates implosive energy fields. Together, when combined with a teleporter, they are able to transport beings across the galaxy. I love the use of power combinations throughout the current X-books, and it is exciting to see another unique one here.
Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia did a fine job with the artwork in Empyre, but I can already tell that their work on S.W.O.R.D. will be phenomenal. The unique arrangement of panels on the pages showing the Six’s combined abilities, along with the wide range of colors, creates absolutely gorgeous visuals. The lettering by Ariana Maher only added to the spectacle. Schiti and Gracia showed how far they are willing to go with their art in this first issue, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the rest of the series.
While I would have liked more time getting to know the team, I enjoyed the banter between Magneto and Brand. It is interesting seeing a character that has never associated herself with the X-Men or Brotherhood of Mutants have to work so closely with them. I especially enjoyed Magneto’s reactions to meeting each member of the crew. The sharp writing and amazing visuals make S.W.O.R.D. a must read for X-Men fans.