As of last week, the X-Men changed the Marvel Universe forever. SWORD #6 is the beginning of the aftermath; altering the game for both the Earthly heroes and the cosmos.
This is a big one. While it is still the penultimate week of the Hellfire Gala, this issue features what the rest of the gala has been lacking, and it thrills me for what happens next. It was created by Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Ariana Maher.
The mutants have claimed Mars, and transformed it into Planet Arakko. Now, the mutants step onto the galactic stage, with SWORD at the center of it, as well as the new Regent of Sol — Ororo Munroe, Storm! Meanwhile, Magneto has a meeting that is way past due.
After a month of stories that have largely been a letdown, the team steps up and delivers what the rest of the event needed to be. Ewing’s story could be easily split into three portions, and each felt like something huge for the entire Marvel line in its own way. The Captain America/Doctor Doom prelude sets up things to come but it also nails how these two would react to something as momentous as the events of Planet-Size. The SWORD presentation actually makes intergalactic politics interesting, and then ends with the revelation of Storm’s new story role in one of the best splash pages in recent history. Then the issue ends on a quiet note, allowing two key characters to reconnect in an unexpected-but-much-needed way.
Maher picks that up as a great challenge. As Doom confronts Agent Brand, she shows his anger with a rapidly growing font, until Storm screams back. But it isn’t with a large point font to match. It’s small, implying a quiet whisper which captivates the reader until she calls her name across the open amphitheater as the Regent of Sol. It’s great lettering work, showing why Maher is a rising star in the lettering world.
Schiti and Gracia both do amazing work. They are able to make the quiet moments stand out, like the opening page of Captain America just staring at the stars — with Schiti making one of Earth’s mightiest feel small in the scale of what’s happened, and Gracia bringing the night sky to colorful life. The big moments get the same scale, with Storm confronting Doom in a huge two page spread as she declares her new role to the universe in the midst of a perfectly rendered lightning storm.
This is what superhero comics should be and needs to be: an example of how a story can move huge and exciting plot elements without a fight scene or a team of movie stars to carry it forward. This is good comics, and a lot of creators need to be paying attention to this series.
SWORD #6 is available now from Marvel Comics.
The Hellfire Gala is all over but for the afterparty. This is what comes next. Ewing gives the story the heart for readers to connect, and the art team does amazing things to give the story a grand scale.