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S.W.O.R.D. By Al Ewing Vol. 2
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘S.W.O.R.D. By Al Ewing Vol. 2’ loses its plot on the way to Mars

S.W.O.R.D. Vol. 2 always felt like it was in service of a crossover event rather than focusing on itself.

Since its first issue, S.W.O.R.D. has used “this is what comes next” as a thematic statement of intent for the series. There are some places where I think the series lived up to that statement (Mysterium in general, Storm the Regent of Sol, everything Manifold, Brand the turncoat), but ultimately, I think this book lacked an identity and a cohesive vision to the point that I don’t think it can really be “what comes next.”

Part of the problem comes from the first two issues in this collection, which are both The Last Annihilation tie-ins. I personally didn’t think much of the event in general, but both issues in this volume that are chapters in it were fine enough…with a giant caveat that they don’t have the context needed to understand the scope of that event. The bigger disappointment to me, is that by getting sucked into The Last Annihilation, the series lost momentum, which it only just started building with issue #6 and the Hellfire Gala, while also ceding space that hurt the series far more than it helped. 

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The Last Annihilation aside, this volume of S.W.O.R.D. spends much its time with Storm, and on one hand, it’s much needed character treatment. On the other hand, the series doesn’t hold up when a new setting and cast member are added. 

S.W.O.R.D. by Al Ewing Vol. 2
Banger page, wish it opened the trade.
Marvel Comics

To be fair, I do think the role of Regent is an exciting one for Storm, and I think issue #8, which explores that role, is a highlight of the whole run. I’m not sure I like it as much as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ use of the character throughout his work on Black Panther, but it’s definitely better than the character has been treated in X-Men comics in some time, and it’s much deserved. It’s a concept I can see a lot of promise in, and I hope it is mined for some time. My problem with it is similar to my problem with the series giving so much space to events: the actual plot of the series suffers by hyper focusing on the many pieces that are on the board, and 11 issues wasn’t enough to do any of them justice. 

After the event issues and the Storm solo issue, the rest of the volume is a three part arc that uses half its space on Arakko and Sh’iar politics, featuring some cosmic mercenaries, while also finishing on a great Brand vs. Gyrich showdown. That stuff is great, and pulls off a pretty tricky reveal that works well with the general tone of the series while changing the status quo in exciting ways. That all worked for me well enough, but everything on Arakko falls flat for various reasons; the stakes never feeling meaningful for one, but more importantly, it feels very out of place at the end of a series, especially one that has had such a hard time defining itself.

S.W.O.R.D. constantly set aside its own plot, whether that was for King in Black, the Hellfire Gala, or The Last Annihilation, but at the end, when it might have brought it all together, it shifted into this bizarre blend of finale mentality alongside exposition that feels almost completely misplaced. The weirdness of the exposition makes more sense when you realize that it’s not really important in S.W.O.R.D., but will almost certainly become pertinent in X-Men: Red. Even when S.W.O.R.D. wasn’t serving some event, it still wasn’t serving itself: it was serving its sequel series. 

S.W.O.R.D., at times, flirted with actually being “what comes next.” I love the way the series contextualizes, and then recontextualizes, Brand’s choices, and what they mean for the mutants and for the galaxy. I love the way it doesn’t flinch away from stuff that some of the other Krakoa-era books have. Ultimately, though, S.W.O.R.D. didn’t use its time on the stands to actually be “what comes next.” Instead, it punted to its own “next,” X-Men: Red.

S.W.O.R.D. By Al Ewing Vol. 2
‘S.W.O.R.D. By Al Ewing Vol. 2’ loses its plot on the way to Mars
S.W.O.R.D. By Al Ewing Vol. 2
Two great issues weren't enough to float the whole, unfortunately. Hopefully X-Men: Red is able to pick up the pieces.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Great new status quo for Storm
Wiz Kid issue is a highlight
Feels disjointed
Forgettable art
It was not “what comes next”

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