Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Color Artist: Fernando Sifuentes of Protobunker Studios
Cover Artists: Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The mutant space force is on the move as they made big rounds after helping the Guardians of the Galaxy defeat Dormammu in The Last Annihilation. However, with everything that mutants have on their hands, there’s still the matter of Arakko that Earth’s mutants have to worry about. However, S.W.O.R.D. #8 shows that Storm has got it under control for the moment.
So, S.W.O.R.D. has been a hit-or-miss series for me. It’s introduced some undeniably cool concepts and ideas for Marvel’s mutants and especially its cosmic landscape. However, this book has the unfortunate role of constantly being stuck cleaning up stories that were started in other titles. This is best shown here in this comic that’s supposed to be about how Storm’s life as Regent of Arakko is like.
To start off, tries to give readers a glimpse of daily life for the mutants of Arakko. It’s really focused on how Storm is adjusting to life on the newly terraformed red planet and shows her daily routine. It even has a cool opening for her as the new regent of Mars. The issue even provides the obligatory white info page about the leadership of the red planet’s mutants. But the problem is this comic does a lot of telling and little showing of their actual lives. You only know what you’re told and that’s it.
The story itself is pretty straightforward: Storm is confronting Tarn the Uncaring over his actions on Krakoa. The first big problem is that the comic doesn’t, or rather can’t, provide the full context behind this fight. For those who don’t even know who Tarn is, he’s a powerful mutant of Arakko who leads a macabre cult called the Locus Vile that gives me Pinhead vibes. They were introduced in the Hellions tie-in to the 2019 event X of Swords and reappeared in the latest Hellions #15 to confront Mr. Sinister and his team for stealing genetic samples of their DNA, which Tarn found sacrilegious.
During the last two Hellion issues, Storm warned Tarn that setting foot on Krakoa would be a challenge to her and now she’s calling it in. One thing the comic does get right is establishing this rivalry between the two especially when it comes to showing Tarn’s facial dismissiveness of Storm due to Guiu Vilanova’s art. The art’s not the best especially when it comes to close ups of Storm’s face, but the art and colors do a fine job establishing the mood of tension and battle in the comic. However, the bigger problem is the challenge between Storm and Tarn: it’s a letdown.
The fight, if you can call it that, is very brief to put it mildly and while it has a big surprise on Tarn’s part, that’s where it falls apart. Let’s just say, after all the set up that Hellions and even this comic do in building up how powerful and dreaded Tarn is, it ultimately falls short. It feels like they nerfed Tarn down so that Storm can have her badass moments of victory. I’m sure Storm fans will like it, but for me it was an underwhelming development.
Real quick, there was one weird moment in this comic that leaves me puzzled about Storm. During the initial back and forth between Storm and Tarn, the latter asks her how she got to be Regent of Arakko without realizing challenges come and go like rain. And for a page and a half, the comic shifts to a quick dark and stormy scene of Storm, in her present costume, being pinned to the ground in the Arakkii challenge ring by none other than herself in a previous costume. And the other version is screaming, “I am you!” repeatedly to her.
This scene is not explained whatsoever in this comic, and I have many questions. But I feel we won’t get any answers about this any time soon, so readers should keep that scene in mind whenever reading any comics about Storm as the Regent of Arakko. Maybe we’ll get some answers to that, maybe we won’t, we shall see.
S.W.O.R.D. #8 shows what Storm’s duties are as the Regent of Arakko. The comic gives a brief glimpse into the leadership of the terraformed Mars, white page and all, while showing a quick look into Storm’s daily routine. The back and forth between Storm and Tarn is fine enough, but the full context of the rivalry is missing if fans aren’t reading Hellions. Sadly, the comic is once again cleaning up a story that started in another series, first with King In Black, then Guardians of the Galaxy, and now Hellions. Hopefully we get a genuine story for S.W.O.R.D. to have soon.