First issues have a lot on their plate, forced to introduce readers to a new concept while also providing enough story to entice them to read further. With something like Krakoa, which is still getting a fair bit of world building to this day, Al Ewing had a gargantuan task thrust upon him with S.W.O.R.D. #1. Fortunately, he pulls it off quite well.
When it comes to knowing character history, Ewing is a master at his craft. By far, one of the most appealing aspects of S.W.O.R.D. is having Magneto interact with his former Acolytes and seeing how they respond to him all these years later. There’s something extremely funny about how the team responds to a character as infamously ridiculous as Fabian Cortez, and how Magneto himself has almost completely forgotten him.
The concept of the Six is new and completely unique. And, in typical Ewing fashion, he uses some X-Men history to introduce it, cleverly tying it to the fan-favorite fastball special move from classic comics. These little moments are packed with humor and a sense of honoring these characters’ long history, sure to bring a smile to any longtime fan’s face.
In many ways, S.W.O.R.D. #1 is a table setting issue, but the table Ewing sets is a really nice one. S.W.O.R.D. isn’t an X-Men book really, but rather X-adjacent, introducing a new and interesting concept to the Marvel Universe as a whole. It’s nice to see mutant characters interact without having them solely tied to Krakoa, giving mutants more interaction on a global scale. As Brand herself says in the issue, S.W.O.R.D. doesn’t answer to Krakoa — they answer to Sol.
S.W.O.R.D. #1 honors its history, but it also provides some much-needed tie-ins to the happenings in current comics. Teddy’s reign as Emperor of Space is brought up, as is his marriage to Billy Kaplan. By far the best portion of this comic comes with Krakoa’s relationship with Wanda Maximoff is brought up, tieing Krakoa’s actions to the greater galaxy as a whole.
Fans were passionate about the Axis retcon, which stated Magneto was not Wanda and Pietro’s biological father — passionate against that retcon in particular. In recent years, through books like Age of X-Man and Strange Academy, hints towards how Magneto feels about the twins have been given, proving that he still does love them. Why wouldn’t he? He spent years believing the was their father, and blood isn’t all that’s necessary to make someone family.
Because Krakoa labeled Wanda as an enemy of the state (even naming her “The Pretender”), Brand cannot risk having too close ties to Krakoa. After all, Wanda is the King of Space’s mother-in-law. Magneto’s reaction to this is golden — finally showing some internal conflict on his end for how Krakoa sees Wanda vs. how he sees Wanda. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Valerio Schiti will be a rich man. Tying in the new state of the galaxy, Empyre, and Magneto’s own relationship with the twins is extremely exciting, giving fans a glimpse at a dynamic they’ve wanted to be addressed for months now. It’s these quick moments of subtle character insight where the Ewing/Schiti dynamic truly shines.
As a whole, the X-Men relaunch has been in dire need of more diversity. Though S.W.O.R.D. isn’t quite an X-book, the team is packed to the brim with underused, diverse characters of all walks of life. Frenzy, Armor, Wiz-Kid, and more are finally given their own chance to shine, and as a result, a whole new group of readers will see themselves reflected in their comics. Giving these characters a new breath of life is certainly exciting potential.
Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti go together like peanut butter and jelly, the perfect combo that complements one another in the best ways. S.W.O.R.D. #1 positions itself to be a thought-provoking comic that honors and expands on character history while boasting beautiful visuals.
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