REVIEW: SWORD #1 Takes Flight

Cover to Sword #1 by Valerio Schiti, published by Marvel Comics, 2020

In the wake of both Empyre and the tournament that was X of Swords, Abigail Brand looks outward to the stars and assembles a team of mutants to see what comes next.

SWORD #1

Al Ewing (writer), Marte Gracia (colorist), Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (design), Valerio Schitti (artist)
Marvel Comics
December 9, 2020

sword #1

The first issue of SWORD opens fascinatingly with ellipses revealed to be Magneto surrounded in a metallic bubble. This story choice creates connective tissue for the title by way of Magneto serving as a tether to Earth as well as Ewing connecting SWORD to the recently finished event Empyre, wherein Brand grew frustrated with the faults in Alpha Flight and resigned from the program. Ewing’s attentiveness to the Marvel Universe at large along with his past work gives birth to the idea he has a single thought in regards to cape comics which he takes time to unveil and make known.

Something striking about the Peak when we’re introduced to it is how Valerio Schitti’s pencils and Marte Gracia’s colors quickly bring to mind the ORCHIS base known as the Forge, particularly in regards to atmosphere and thematic visuals paralleling one another. Where the Forge contains an encroaching darkness and resembles more a moratorium, the Peak is filled with light all over and only life is witnessed throughout the station. These parallels are also noticeable in the Forge resembling a shield and the Peak a sword.

In keeping with these connecting plot threads, SWORD #1 sees the return of Wanda Maximoff’s epithet “The Pretender” through Magneto’s off-hand mention following a discussion about Billy Kaplan. Wanda’s being mentioned at the beginning of this X-Men run in House of X #4 and here in SWORD #1 points to the character making her appearance on Krakoa in the near future.

Providing a fair bit of levity to the narrative is Fabian Cortez, formerly of the Acolytes and eager to speak to Magneto as a superior. The dialogue between Erik and Abigail makes it clear Fabian was an unwanted choice and is mainly there out of necessity. Nonetheless, Fabian serves a similar function to that of Hope Summers in The Five, augmenting the powers of the other mutants in the group.

At the conclusion of the issue, upon Manifold’s return to the Peak, Abigail says, “This is what comes next.” These words echo Magneto’s very own earlier sentiment “…if we never tested our limits, we might assume we had some.” Together, these two moments add a sense of mutants propelling even further ahead. An X-Men evolution, if you will. Victor Von Doom’s immediate rebuttal of this hopeful proclamation hints at a disastrous endgame for the series.

Schitti and Gracia’s combining of these visual and thematic parallels in conjunction with Ewing’s writing equate to an issue that effectively and impressively serves as a second dawn for the X-characters. As a first foray into any of the X-titles, Ewing crafts this enticing narrative with no shortage of plot threads for readers.

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