Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Color Artist: Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo
Cover Artist: Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Mutantkind’s Hellfire Gala is over and done with, but not everyone’s business has been concluded with the planet-sized events. The Latverian Monarch, Dr. Doom, has a meeting with a prominent member of the X-Men. While is Doom is dining, the rest of the Universe fights back the abrupt intergalactic incursion by Dormammu. See how S.W.O.R.D. #7 ties into the crossover event “The Last Annihilation” this week.
As the second part of The Last Annihilation, S.W.O.R.D. #7 delivers for the most part in the crossover event. This issue finally brings in pay off from various storylines and moments Al Ewing had set up in both the Empyre event and previous S.W.O.R.D. issues. Notably, moments dealing with Hulkling and even some quotes here and there from certain white pages at the end of prior issues in Al Ewing’s S.W.O.R.D. run. Anyone who’s been keeping up with these details will no doubt catch them.
Now that Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia are no longer the main illustrating the series, it seems like S.W.O.R.D. has lost some of its appeal since everyone and everything always looked excellent in these comics. Stefano Caselli is good and is able to illustrate all of the characters, environments, and action well but it’s not as eye-catching or dynamic as Schiti and Gracia’s work. Also, since this is the second part of The Last Annihilation, the issue focuses on Hulkling as he fights back Dormammu’s hordes of Mindless Ones alongside Captain Glory on the new Throneworld.
The comic goes back and forth between the invasion of Throneworld and the dinner between Dr. Doom and Storm. Of the two stories, I’d say the more engaging one was Doom’s dinner, though it’s mostly dialogue. The comic is paced pretty well between the two scenes, but the action on Thronworld isn’t that captivating. Fighting Mindless Ones isn’t all that epic and I’m surprised that we don’t see the Alliance fight any other monstrosities from the Dark Dimension. Just seems like a wasted opportunity.
The dinner between Dr. Doom and Storm is both engaging and dull. Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue and conversation between the two characters is excellent. Al Ewing nails down the characterization of both Dr. Doom and Storm pretty well at their most regal. But nothing really happens here aside from the expected polite jabbing, deep cuts, and audacious statements here and there. No deals are brokered, no alliances are made, nothing even remotely interesting aside from some grand-standing on Storm’s part (Trust me, you won’t miss it).
Aside from a few things that fans following Hickman’s initial story and lore buildup will notice, it’s not all that exciting. In a comic book that’s all about payoff, hopefully something from this dinner actually results in a bigger story later down the line involving Dr. Doom and the X-Men.
There is a significant development that shows how S.W.O.R.D. gets involved in The Last Annihilation event and also highlights the shadier side of Abigail Brand. See, Brand has been making moves to get Krakoa and S.W.O.R.D. in good standing with the rest of the major galactic powers, and she’s been eyeing the Kree-Skrull Alliance since the series’ beginning. We finally get that scene from the end of Empyre with Hulkling and his forces defeated right before Brand and her S.W.O.R.D. team arrives to rescue him. Sounds heroic, right?
Well, the comic reveals how underhanded Brand really is. See, during this whole time, I’ve been wondering why no one calls the Avengers or at least Dr. Strange to help fight Dormammu. Now we all get the answer: Brand has been blocking any calls to the Avengers and Alpha Flight. The comic provides a white info-page that explains how Brand deliberately blocked calls for help by Hulkling and the Kree-Skrull Alliance, so that S.W.O.R.D. can look good and get in the new Emperor’s good graces. On the one hand, this feels totally in character for Brand and her subterfuge style, but it also shows she’s willing to jeopardize the galaxy’s safety and very existence for S.W.O.R.D.’s political advancement.
One quick nitpick is Hulkling’s space sword. In the Empyre event, we saw Hulkling’s sword directly take the full brunt of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. So, it’s no slouch in the physical power department. But somehow a stray laser blast from a Mindless One manages to break Hulkling’s sword in half? I just don’t buy it. It feels like a forced moment to show how dire his situation had become.
S.W.O.R.D. #7 advances the plot of The Last Annihilation while finishing off some business from the Hellfire Gala. It pays off to several storylines and moments Al Ewing established in Empyre and previous S.W.O.R.D. issues. The art change is very noticeable, and while Stefano Caselli is good, the art’s not as captivating as before. The main draw here is the invasion of Throneworld and the dinner between Dr. Doom and Storm in particular. The character interaction between the two is nice and well-written, but no significant development occurs that no one couldn’t guess would happen. But the two get to show off their more regal sides.