Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Space is vast. Space is infinite. We are not alone. We are not safe. These are the thoughts that no doubt rattle through the mind of Abigail Brands, the alien-mutant hybrid who’s spent much of her life protecting earth from the vast array of aliens looking to either conquer or destroy all of humanity. Brands was first introduced to readers as the head of SWORD (Sentient World Observation & Response Department), an offshoot of SHIELD that dealt with alien threats aimed at the earth. SWORD was eventually decommissioned and Brand moved on to work with Captain Marvel at Alpha Flight as that organization transitioned to be earths first line of defense against any alien incursion. Unfortunately, Alpha Flight was a failure, and the recent events of Empyre has shown that Captain Marvel takes Alpha Flight and Abigail Brands for granted and that disregard almost got the earth destroyed. So now it’s time for something different, something new, and something Krakoan.
The concept of SWORD #1 has been building over Marvel’s last two events (Empyre & X of Swords). While Empyre’s epilogue established that this new iteration would exist in the near future to deal with the destabilization of the universe in the wake of the Kree-Skrull alliance while X of Swords reestablished the importance of the Peak (SWORD’s space station headquarters) and entrenched the future of SWORD with the new mutant nation of Krakoa. With SWORD #1 we finally see what this new iteration of earth’s premiere mutant alien defense and space exploration organization is going to be. From its opening page it is clear that SWORD is going to firmly placed within the Reign of X, the latest publishing label placed upon the X-Books in the wake of X of Swords and the end of the Dawn of X. From the opening page, beautifully drawn by Valerio Schitti and wonderfully rich colors from Marte Gracia, we see the Peak has been merged with Krakoan biotechnology as the station is covered in plant life. If the Krakoan tech wasn’t enough SWORD becomes even more connected to the Mutant universe in the fact its crew are all mutants, all with rich histories within the broad Marvel X-Universe, and this new SWORD will fall under the auspices of the Quiet Council and specifically Magneto. To me this is a great addition to the new status quo of Marvel’s mutants for two reasons. One it would make sense that the new mutant nation would want to expand to the stars just like other earth nations. Secondly, under the x-architecture of Jonathan Hickman the X-Books have all fit into different genres and the X-Books need a hard sci-fi book and it looks like SWORD will be that book.
SWORD #1 begins as a by the book first issue as Magneto visits the recently recommissioned and updated Peak and receives a tour of the facilities and is introduced to the crew all while Commander Brand gives a tutorial on some of the alien threats facing the earth. The eclectic crew is an interesting collection of mutants and new readers may need to use Google to find their histories longtime X-Readers will no doubt have a smile on their faces as Magento reacquaints himself with the crew that Brand has assembled. Where SWORD #1 moves from a get to know the team to a hard sci-fi series is when we are introduced to the Six, a collection of mutants whose combined powers make them a Uni/Multiversal Far-Retrieval Circuit that allows them to travel the depths of space in search of the technology that will fuel the future of the mutant race. Just like the Five provide endless life for the mutant race the Six may be the key to infinite possibilities as they mine the known and unknown universe for knowledge and resources. Where this book goes, I do not know I just know that after this first issue, I’m on board.
SWORD #1 is an excellent addition to the Reign of X and it is fitting that it is the first #1 of the Reign of X. With its origins in Empyre and X of Swords I have been looking forward to this book and it did not let me down. I love the hard sci-fi aspect of SWORD and thought that it was an excellent choice for Al Ewing to write this title. I am a fan of Ewing and what he has been doing with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Immortal Hulk has really cemented him as one of Marvel’s finest writers in my opinion. I loved the galactic potential that SWORD has and hope that it entangles the X-Universe in the broader Marvel cosmic as some of my favorite X-Men stories of the past are those that see the X-Men involved in galactic shenanigans. I loved Valerio Schiti’s artwork on this title. His integration of technology and Krakoan biotech was beautiful and his dynamic style really fits a book of this nature. I look forward to where these creators take this book but the future looks bright.
Verdict: Buy! SWORD #1 was a brilliant first issue and a great kick off to the Reign of X. Dripping in great characterization, breathtaking scientific exploration, and dynamic action SWORD #1 is a wonderful addition to the X-Universe.