Within the past few years, Al Ewing has proved why he’s one of Marvel’s superstar writers, and S.W.O.R.D. #3 is another compelling case for that point.
S.W.O.R.D. has a big cast and it would be easy for some of these characters to be drowned out amongst the noise. S.W.O.R.D. #3 gives Manifold a front seat, taking a step back to further explore the often underutilized character. The opening pages with him on Kata Tjuta checking in on some old friends is some great character for him, showing how grounded he still is. It’s nice to see people have positive ties outside of Krakoa, revisiting family who worries for them but isn’t hateful of their mutant status.
The way Ewing explains Manifold’s powers is one of the coolest ways it’s ever been explained. We’ve long since known that Fesi can mold reality and step along the folds of space and time to teleport locations, but explaining this as Fesi “talking to space” and “asking” it to allow him to move is downright awesome.
Due to the King in Black event ongoing (which makes perfect sense for S.W.O.R.D. to be involved in), Fesi soon finds himself asking Prince Djagyar of the Zn’rx for assistance. Ewing has done great work with cosmic Marvel with his writing for both Guardians of the Galaxy and Empyre, and S.W.O.R.D. proves he’s still got a clear handle on the look of Marvel cosmic in the now. The space politics he introduces to S.W.O.R.D. are so incredibly interesting, including here where Djaygar straight-up refuses to assist any takedown of Knull before getting murdered shortly after by an unseen force. It’s a thread that will almost certainly come back, but it’s truly incredible how much plot and character work Ewing fits in his allotted 24 pages.
Since House of X/Powers of X launched the new era in 2019, Orchis was one of the major villains — and we all knew they’d be coming back eventually. S.W.O.R.D. #3 takes a massive step toward reintroducing that concept with a great revelation: they’ve recruited Henry Peter Gyrich. This moment is by far the best thing S.W.O.R.D. #3 introduces, and though Brand says they can’t deal with it now, the inevitability of this returning is utterly tantalizing.
The issue ends with Fesi returning to headquarters to see that Knullified Cable has taken down the team. This issue handles its King in Black tie-in well, adding additional plot and character moments without losing itself in the weeds of the current event. It’s clear that next issue will feel more tied to the event (which isn’t a bad thing) as Manifold will likely have to take steps to help his team and stop Cable. Ewing’s work shines as always and the pencil work between the many artists is truly a sight to behold. If you’ve been enjoying S.W.O.R.D. so far, this issue is another big pleaser.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!