S.W.O.R.D. #1/ Story by AL EWING/ Art by VALERIO SCHITI/ Colors by MARTE GRACIA/ Letters by VC’S ARIANA MAHER/ Design by TOM MULLER/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
While S.H.I.E.L.D. deals with Earth-based threats of many shapes, S.W.O.R.D. handles extraterrestrial threats to world security. This new iteration of the Sentient World Observation and Response Directorate is commanded by an organization of mutants, as the mutant nation of Krakoa takes to the stars.
When I think about S.W.O.R.D., my mind instantly goes to disaster. Between it’s destruction during Secret Invasion to its crew being wiped out by symbiote-infested Brood, S.W.O.R.D. has a tumultuous history, at best. As Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti Krako-pen this new chapter, we get a new look at the Peak – S.W.O.R.D.’s base of operations in space.
The story opens with a station inspection conducted by Magneto. This assessment provides Ewing an opportunity to establish the crew’s roster, dynamic, and primary mission, while giving Schiti the heavy lifting in portraying how utterly massive and nuanced the Peak actually is. Returning to command the station is Abigail Brand. She conducts a tour of the facility while reminding the reader that in space – SHE. IS. THE. BOSS. Throughout this tour, the cast of crewmembers expands with zero pomp or circumstance, but plenty of complaining.
Brand does not like the fact that she needs help from Magneto. Historically, in fact, she is not a fan of accepting help from just about anybody! This does not stop her from reaching out when the need arises, however. The part that baffles me is how she landed this commander gig. Again. Heck, on her watch we saw Skrulls invade just about every significant organization on Earth at almost every level possible! This just may be a testament to her line in the book when asked why a certain mutant was among her ranks: “Slim pickings, short notice.”
The story unfolds with more informative dialogue than I cared for. Ewing’s use of prose and exposition served only to jar me from the story and dropping back was a bit abrasive. It seemed the story was more interested in doing a Who’s Who of S.W.O.R.D. than a baseline for the story to unfold. Aside from the heavy emphasis on the technology at hand and the line in the sand that Brand draws to impart the importance of their presence, there was no real dilemma at hand. The story did not suck me in for an expectant long-haul.
A side-effect of the unfolding story was the room with which Schiti had to work. The grand scenes – amazing though they are – left the minutiae suffering. Details of the faces and the backgrounds were muted and facial structures were inconsistent from page to page. Magneto’s expressions did not seem to match the demeanor he carries, even in his excitement at seeing an old friend.
While I was not the biggest fan of the overall product that was this book, I am left hopeful in the direction of the story. The marriage of mutant abilities to technological advances certainly intrigued me and bought a second issue out of my curiosity. I am a fan of Al Ewing as a writer (owning signed copies of some Immortal Hulk books) and Valerio Schiti is known for some amazing work! My hope is that the story projects through the subsequent books. I’m willing to give it another “Krak”!