Been a while since we checked in with SWORD, gang, I wonder if anything interesting happened in the last few issues.
…They did WHAT to Mars???
Stefano Casseli (artist), Al Ewing (writer), Marte Gracia (cover colorist), Ariana Maher (letterer), Valerio Schiti (cover artist), Ser Sifuentes-Sujo (colorist)
July 28th, 2021
Jumping from one crossover to the next, SWORD #7 trades in its Hellfire Gala finery for wartime fatigues as the cosmic mutants face the threat of the dark lord Dormammu and The Last Annihilation, crossing over with Ewing’s other cosmic series, Guardians of the Galaxy. For anyone who isn’t reading GotG, well, I’ve got some bad news. The two are, essentially, sister books at this point, and this issue is roughly 50% about Emperor Hulkling, and picking up threads leftover from last year’s Empyre event. The good news is A.) you should read GotG anyways, it’s an outstanding book, and B.) the other half of the issue is some of the best Storm content we’ve gotten in a decade as she joins the book’s cast as the Regent of Sol.
Ororo’s portion of the issue is set on the newly-christened planet Arakko, as she dines with her fellow monarch and new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Doom. Doom and Storm have a long, messy history as their first interactions set the standard for Claremontian villain fixations with Ororo, and the pair never really moved past it. Rather than ignore this legacy, Ewing draws attention to it immediately via Doom attempting once again to mack on Storm only to be immediately, bluntly, shut down as Ororo informs him that game isn’t one she will be playing anymore.
Storm, as a character, has been the big question mark since Dawn of X began. Despite leadership roles and an underrated 2014 solo series, she had felt like a character lacking direction for years; since the relaunch hit two years ago, it’s felt like a lot of fizzles and no bang. Now that she’s in SWORD and serving as the figurehead for the entire solar system, no less, we’ve gotten to the fireworks factory, and it is eminently satisfying. She is a powerhouse in every sense of the word and not only puts one of Marvel’s most imposing villains in his place without breaking a sweat, but she also shows him that place isn’t where he thinks it is. The world has changed direction, and Storm is the one at the wheel. Buckle up, Victor.
The rest of the issue raises the stakes of The Last Annihilation, with the forces of the Kree-Skrull Empire utterly outclassed. But the most interesting thing about it is the art. Casseli is an artist I enjoy, I’ve had a soft spot for him since Secret Warriors, but the coloring choices made by Sifuentes-Sujo leave the issue feeling confused and clashing. The Throneworld segments have bright, clean colors and generally look great, but everything in Arrako is draped in gradients attempting to showcase an Arraki sunset, and it just doesn’t quite click.
As for the rest of SWORD, Abigail Brand is one of the most cunning, manipulative, and ethically dubious characters in the entire line. Xavier and Magneto get all of the attention for their shadowy power plays, but miles above their head a certain green-haired director is playing their games better than they are and with far more risky stakes. I doubt Brand’s sins come to light in Inferno, but boy howdy is that going to be a hefty bill when it does come due.
SWORD is a consistently great book, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given its creative team, but it is still worth saying. Despite tying in with three different crossover events in seven issues, it feels like one of the most confident and daring books Marvel has, is routinely among the best in the X-Office, and has a bright future ahead of it with the additions of Storm and Arrako to its bag of tricks. I can’t wait to see where things go from here.