The beauty of S.W.O.R.D.‘s lineup is that it could only really exist in the current era. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that the wealth of X-books in the current era has allowed for some characters who don’t usually get the spotlight to finally have a chance to shine. S.W.O.R.D. in particular is made up of virtually no A-list X-Men, which works to its advantage. Like Hellions, it gives readers a chance to really learn more about these lesser-focused characters. Issue #5 focuses mostly in on Fabian Cortez, a character who hasn’t really had much to do since the ’90s.
Cortez has kind of always been a character that just annoys the crap out of the rest of the cast, and one thing that’s great about how Ewing writes him is that he embraces that element about him. Seeing Magneto get shady towards him because he adores Peepers while not wanting to really be bothered with Fabian is some fun stuff — who doesn’t love shady Magneto? And the rest of the Council’s — and even Jean Grey’s — reaction to him is quite enjoyable. Fabian’s annoying, that’s his whole thing, but Ewing uses this issue to make him more than just that.
Fabian’s speech to the Council about how he sees mutants is interesting — whether you agree or disagree with everything he’s saying is another conversation worth having, but it is interesting. Even his assertion that his mutant name is Cortez is quite interesting and there’s a conversation to be had about the history of a name, which is something he talks about briefly.
There’s something to be said about intersectionality within oppressed identities while reading this issue. Cortez talks about his identity as a mutant and not wishing ill on humans but also explaining that he is oppressed by them and can hate them if he wants to. How he speaks about the Cortez family name and how his European ancestors “bent continents to [their] whim” is a conversation that’s clearly seeped in the ideals of colonialism. It’s a conversation that seems to obviously come from an individual who is oppressed for being a mutant while Ewing’s writing is subtly examining the role of his own whiteness and subsequent privilege at the same time.
In the dialogue he’s having, Cortez doesn’t seem mad about his family’s legacy he’s alluding to or those who suffered at the hands of his family “bending” continents to their “whim” — he’s angrier at his own treatment within his family, at being the “pinnacle” of that status and being treated as unworthy. In fact, he conflates that legacy with power pretty explicitly.
It’s a necessary dialogue about the intersectionality of oppressed identities that’s worth having as far as Krakoa goes — especially since white mutants often dominate the conversation in X-titles. After all, in the pages featuring Fabian and the Council, Storm is the only nonwhite mutant there. She’s currently the only nonwhite mutant on the government at all.
The return of Amelia Vought is extremely exciting for ’90s X-Men fans because again, when was the last time she got to be used in an X-Men story? Her return also allows for the introduction of a new Arakkii mutant, which is exciting for many reasons. Outside of Hickman’s work, no other books really seem to be touching on Arakko or the new world its inclusion with Krakoa has opened up. Having these Arakkii characters show up introduces a lot of interesting elements for the story of Krakoa overall and it’s exciting to see that finally explored.
S.W.O.R.D. is also a great way for Ewing to continue to reshape the cosmic stories for Marvel. Having him in charge of so many cosmic books is creating nice synergy between multiple titles even outside the X-arena, and it’s nice to see his plans come into fruition more clearly. The bits with the Snarkwar will surely have a bigger role soon, and it’s exciting to think of how.
Seeing what Ewing has in store for cosmic Marvel is a treat and as usual, his S.W.O.R.D. is one of the best X-books on the market. Schiti’s art is gorgeous as usual and his presence on this title will surely be missed once his tenure wraps up.
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