Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Valerio Schiti, Ray-Anthony Height, Bernard Change, and Nico Leon
Color Artist: Marte Gracia
Cover Artists: Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia
The S.W.O.R.D. series had an explosive opening which set up the scope of the Krakoan mutants’ new space force. But before the station and its crew could really get anything going, Knull, God of the Symbiotes, invaded Earth and encased the planet in a shell of symbiotes. Since then, the members of S.W.O.R.D. have been working to solve the Knull problem on their end and S.W.O.R.D. #3 shows Manifold’s journey in space to help defeat this threat.
S.W.O.R.D. #3 Review:
The strength of this comic is not the plot or story but the art and focus on Manifold. The splendid art by Valerio, Ray-Anthony, Bernard, Nico and Marte Gracia’s colors is excellent to see. They all do a great job illustrating this comic book and provide its greatest strength. It’s especially great when the comic shows Manifold’s power in action. The other highlight is the character work by Al Ewing on the space walking mutant, Eden Fesi aka Manifold. This comic showcases Manifold’s relatively personable attitude and calm demeanor as well as some of his diplomatic skills during his mission into space.
The comic shows a little more of how far Knull’s invasion of the galaxy has gone and how it’s affecting other alien species. As we see with one species in particular, the reptilian superpower-stealing Zn’rx or Snarks. Fans may remember them from Ewing’s previous Inhumans title Royals. They were mentioned in the first issue of S.W.O.R.D. and we see Ewing set up a storyline with them for this comic. On his way back to Earth, Manifold makes a discovery that adds to the bigger picture with the X-Men and mutantdom on Earth.
S.W.O.R.D. #3 Spoilers:
For the most part, the comic shows Manifold do a lot of impressive space walking through the Universe. If you’re wondering why I say Manifold keeps “space walking,” it’s because the comic wastes no time repeatedly telling you that. It even has the white data pages to back that up. Thankfully, the comic doesn’t do this too much, just a couple of times.
Ultimately, it feels like Al Ewing is kind of reuse a plotline from a tie-in he wrote for Secret Empire during his Ultimates run. In that issue, we saw the Ultimates fight off waves of aliens while America Chavez went out into space to get help, specifically Galactus the Life Bringer (it was a change Ewing made to the character at the time). But he refused. He uses that same plot element here with Manifold; he meets with a Snark prince to help Earth fight Knull, but he declines for more advantageous reasons.
As far as major events, it felt like there’s only Manifold’s discovery about the connection between Alpha Flight’s new leader, Gyrich, and the X-Men’s newest enemy ORCHIS. Other than that, he just heads back to Earth to face a young Knullified Cable, almost right where we left off in #2.
The biggest takeaway is the art and character spotlight on Manifold. I’d recommend the book to fans of Manifold, the artists, and Al Ewing’s world-building. But if you want a story that shows more of their involvement in the main King in Black event, then the next issue will have more of that.