Knull has come to Earth. The Avengers are battling his forces, the X-Men’s numbers have dwindled, and SWORD is fighting off any potential invasions of the Peak. Wait, where in the universe is Eden Fesi?
Bernard Chang (Artist), Al Ewing (Writer), Marte Gracia (Color Artist, Cover Artist), Ray-Anthony Height (Artist), Nico Leon, Ariana Maher (Letterer), Valerio Schiti (Artist, Cover Artist)
February 10, 2021
Al Ewing pulls back on the overall plot going on in SWORD and by extension the King in Black event to center on Eden Fesi, aka Manifold. There is a relaxed atmosphere that echoes throughout the first half of the issue and peaks at Eden’s conversation with the Zn’rx Prince, Djagyar. Schiti’s pencils in the opening scene feel appropriately loose, melding with how Eden talks to Lila Cheney. This thus sets up that SWORD #3 is going to be a slice of life issue and provide the reader more insight into Eden Fesi. Marte Gracia’s use of the entire rainbow as a color palette makes for vibrant and beautiful imagery and the abundance of blues and oranges set the two moods that will recur throughout the issue: calm and tense.
There’s an abundant beauty to the split-screen effect the artists achieve on this two-page spread that feels unrivaled by anything in the series thus far.
Glimpsing at the amount of detail to each panel and it’s clear to see why Chang, Height and Leon are added to the artist credits. All four artists together craft this seamless scene of Eden strolling through the universe as if it were a street. The speech bubbles at the first and last panel continue the casual tone of the previous page. Combined with the rainbow scheme, this makes for a very memorable comic.
The rainbow color scheme that occurs following Eden’s use of his powers serves as a visual shorthand for there being no limit to where Eden can go in the universe. By placing the colors of the rainbow out of order, Gracia creates a feeling of discordance and suggests trouble lies ahead for Eden.
Shifting from an alien planet to Australia, the emotional tension slowly ramps up while Eden reconnects with a couple of his relatives about his life. As the conversation gets more serious, the colors accordingly fade out and the scenery is limited to blue tones as Eden delivers a somber moment.
The absence of extraneous background and sounds beyond the crackling fire function effectively to make a serious moment that breaks up the previously casual atmosphere of SWORD #3. Maher’s lettering here is especially good as there is a heavy note of regret in Eden’s voice that carries across quite well from the page to the reader.
Eden’s relative Sam asks if Eden is doing better, carrying across the feeling he is more concerned with the present Eden, rather than the past. This follow-up conversation Eden has with his relatives is importantly not dismissive of his telling Sam and Baz that he had killed people. Rather it works concurrently with the underlying theme of past actions being what they are in Dawn of X and Reign of X. This thematic connective tissue flowing between the books has the added effect of ensuring an extra layer of tightness to them.
The bright and vibrant colors of SWORD #3 function as a good means to obscure the seriousness of Eden’s conversations and what occurs beyond them. Ewing’s writing and dialogue feel more emotionally intimate due to focusing on Eden and giving the reader time to learn about the character.