Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Jacopo Camagni
Color Artist: Fernando Sifuentes of Protobunker Studios
Cover Artists: Stefano Caselli & Federico Blee
The Mutants’ space force S.W.O.R.D. has been making big moves for Mutantkind in the last year. But now, Henry Gyrich is finally making his move as well. While his loyalties have been revealed to be with the anti-Mutant organization Orchis, his assets and plans for the Mutants remain a mystery. The members of the Mutant space force must now contend with Gyrich’s plots in S.W.O.R.D. #9.
S.W.O.R.D. has had an issue with cleaning up the storylines from other X-Men related comic books and Marvel events at the expense of having its own story: King in Black, Hellfire Gala, The Last Annihilation, even Hellions. But now it finally feels like S.W.O.R.D. might be coming into its own. Or at least, we’re seeing the beginnings of this storyline that goes beyond galactic worldbuilding for the Mutants.
The plot is pretty straightforward and manages to be both eventful and uneventful. A delegation from the Shi’ar Empire is visiting the newly terraformed Mars, now Arakko, to meet with the Mutant leadership. But danger strikes in the form of a new iteration of the obscure alien villain team called the Lethal Legion. Of course, with this danger present on the planet, the forces of S.W.O.R.D. step in to face the threat before it gets worse.
The comic does capitalize on some pre-established elements from both this S.W.O.R.D. series and other X-Men related titles, such as Orchis and Henry Gyrich finally making a move against Abigail Brand and S.W.O.R.D. However, compared to the actions of Dr. Stasis, a new X-Men villain and chief Orchis agent, from the main X-Men series by Gerry Duggan, Gyrich’s actions here feel….trivial. There’s only two elements of his actions that genuinely feel impactful, while the main action in the comic is the weakest part.
Now that’s not to say the art and action in the comic are bad, they look good with the art from Jacopo Camagni and colors by Fernando Sifuentes. These two certainly know how to draw some dynamic shots that make good eye-candy in the comic. But the fights themselves have little weight to them. They feel like superficial shock-and-awe fights that are supposed to feel like big moments, but they likely won’t be to readers unfamiliar with the characters involved.
It also doesn’t help that the comic follows the trope of having familiar, well-established characters who are usually incredible powerhouses get beaten by random newly created characters to establish a new threat. What determines the success of this type of storytelling trope is how convincing the writing is, and it’s not fully successful here.
S.W.O.R.D. #9 kicks off a new story for the mutant space force that feels like its own. The comic’s plot is pretty straightforward and weaves together elements from previous issues to build the plot. There’s action, intrigue, a couple of big reveals, and the art looks good. However, it’s held down by the overused trope of introducing new threats at the expense of more well-established characters, and readers’ mileage will vary if they even know who the characters involved are. But this feels like the beginnings of a bigger storyline for S.W.O.R.D. to have for itself.