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Jul 29

S.W.O.R.D. #7 annotations

Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

S.W.O.R.D. vol 2 #7
“Full Spectrum Diplomacy”
by Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli & Fer Sifuentes-Sujo

COVER / PAGE 1. Frenzy, Abigail Brand, Hulkling and Manifold ready themselves for action, while an image of Dr Doom at his diplomatic dinner with Storm looms over them.

Last Annihilation. This is a tie-in to “Last Annihilation”, which is basically a Guardians of the Galaxy storyline that has some tie-in one-shots and also crosses over into this issue of S.W.O.R.D. Of this book’s seven issues to date, five have been crossovers, which seems a bit much.

PAGE 2. This is the Utopian Kree’s We-Plex Supreme Intelligence System recapping the plot of Last Annihilation in rather disjointed fashion – we saw one of these pages in issue #5. For present purposes, all you really need to know about Last Annihilation is that Dr Strange villain Dormammu has possessed Ego the Living Planet and he’s invading our dimension again, this time by attacking in outer space, with his usual Mindless Ones army from the Dark Dimension.

PAGE 3. Captain Glory arrives to join the fight.

Captain Glory was called up to help at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy #16. He debuted in Avengers #676 (part of the “No Surrender” storyline), where he was leading the Lethal Legion. He’s basically a Kree super-soldier. He was jailed in Empyre for attempting to sabotage the Kree/Skrull alliance and prolong the war, but it’s perfectly reasonable to trust him in a situation like this.

Hulkling has been the emperor of the Kree/Skrull alliance since Empyre.

PAGE 4. Hulkling recaps the plot.

Most of this was in Guardians of the Galaxy #16, including Wiccan being despatched to Skrullos to fight the invasion there. As Hulkling points out, for political reasons he needs to be seen giving equal prominence to both the capitals of his empire.

PAGE 5. Captain Glory recommends trying someone else on Earth.

We’ll find out later in the issue that Abigail Brand blocked the message to Alpha Flight in the hope that they would turn to S.W.O.R.D., giving S.W.O.R.D. the opportunity to take diplomatic advantage of the situation.

Lauri-Ell is Captain Marvel’s half-sister, introduced in Captain Marvel vol 10 #18 as part of the retcon that Carol Danvers is half-Kree.

PAGE 6. Recap and credits.

PAGES 7-9. Doom and Storm’s dinner.

Mars was terraformed in Planet-Sized X-Men #1.

“That unfortunate business with Arcade…” Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #145-147.

“I sent a robot in my place, as I remember.” Chris Claremont intended the story to feature the original Doom. John Byrne retconned it into a Doombot in Fantastic Four vol 1 #258, I believe because he thought that messing about with Arcade in person was beneath Doom’s dignity. He had a point, but it was hardly worth undoing a story from two years previously, and by all accounts Claremont wasn’t impressed.

“A king’s wife…” The king being T’Challa, but Doom is essentially voicing the argument that the practical effect was to reduce Storm from a star in the X-Men to a supporting character in Black Panther.

“Our respective marriages.” That refers to this week’s Fantastic Four vol 6 #34, in which Doom calls off his marriage to Victorious at the last moment after learning that she’s slept with the Human Torch.

PAGES 10-13. More of the attack on Hala.

The Knights of the Infinite are a group of Skrull/Kree hybrids introduced in Ewing’s New Avengers run, who campaigned for Hulkling to become emperor.

Hulkling’s sword, which gets destroyed by the Mindless Ones, is called Excelsior; it belonged to the first Kree/Skrull hybrid, and it’s supposed to be a vastly powerful cosmic object.

PAGES 14-15. Doom and Storm discuss Mysterium.

I am fairly sure this is the first time that Dr Doom has been shown enjoying a profiterole.

“Naming as magic.” Doom is basically making an argument here that “mutant technology” is a term which the mutants are using to suggest that what they’re doing is uniquely advanced and specifically mutant. In fact, he argues, what they’re actually doing is reinventing magic, and bringing themselves into conflict with people who are much, much more experienced in cosmic and magical matters. In other words, they’re a bunch of amateurs using branding to give the false impression of being in control when they’re actually out of their depth, and don’t necessarily even realise it themselves.

Kirbons. Obviously a reference to Jack Kirby, and Ewing has used the word in some of his other books. However, it originates from Powers of X #5, when Nimrod theorised that the Phalanx’s masters were made of “electrons, protons, leptons, possibly even primordial kirbons”.

The Above-Place. Presumably the opposite of the Below-Place, a hell dimension from Ewing’s Immortal Hulk.

The White Hot Room. A realm connected with the Phoenix – named by Grant Morrison, but intended to be the same realm that Phoenix visits after dying in the back-up strip in Classic X-Men #43.

“I wore gloves.” This speech was used as the source for a Doom quote in issue #1.

“Perhaps it’s already here.” Doom seems to be suggesting that by accessing mysterium, the mutants accidentally provided the opportunity for Dormammu to invade.

PAGE 16. Abigail Brand briefs Storm.

The Great Ring is the ruling council of Arakko.

PAGES 17-18. Storm rejects Doom’s offer.

Obviously she’s right that allying with Doom would be a very bad move. Whether she’s right to reject Doom’s analysis of them as dabblers is maybe another matter – though she could hardly do otherwise, presentationally speaking.

PAGE 19. S.W.O.R.D. arrive on Hala.

“Grandmother was right.” That would be R’Klll, who tried to persuade Hulkling to destroy Earth during Empyre.

“I warned you all the way back at your wedding party…” In Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1. Specifically, Abigail complained that nobody had kept Alpha Flight informed and that they’d been unable to do her job. Of course, that’s now precisely what she’s trying to do herself, to cement her influence through S.W.O.R.D.

PAGE 20. Abigail dodges questions about Wanda.

“The Wanda thing. Calling her pretender…” Wanda is a hate figure on Krakoa because of House of M, when she depowered almost all the world’s mutants. Billy (Wiccan) is Wanda’s son, and unsurprisingly doesn’t like this.

Hulkling assumes that he can’t contact Wanda on Earth because Dormammu is blocking her. In fact, Wanda was murdered at the end of the Hellfire Gala, as seen in X-Factor vol 4 #10. The memo on the next page confirms that Abigail knows this.

PAGE 21. Hulkling wonders why the Avengers didn’t come.

Hulkling sent his message to the Avengers via Alpha Flight. Manifold immediately assumes that Gyrich must have chosen to ignore it, which of course is why Abigail can get away with this sort of thing.

PAGE 22. Data page. Abigail’s note to herself confirming that she deliberately prevented Hulkling from contacting the Avengers or Alpha Flight, so that S.W.O.R.D. could get all the diplomatic benefits of helping. Abigail has an agenda of her own here, and she made clear in earlier issues that she sees herself as servinv the interests of Earth rather than just mutants. However, it’s not clear whether the Quiet Council are aware of this specific manoeuvring; the memo could be read as suggesting that it’s only her (redacted) ultimate goal that she’s keeping secret from them.

PAGE 23. Abigail in action.

Self-explanatory, of course.

PAGE 24. Trailers. The list of comics isn’t the regular X-books, but the books participating in Last Annihilation. The Krakoan reads NEXT: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.






Bring on the comments

  1. Thom H. says:

    This seems like the series that brings together Ewing’s interest in galactic politics and Hickman’s interest in mutants as a newly minted political force.

    I liked the first issue quite a bit, but decided to wait out the crossover issues. And I’m still waiting. 🙂 It seems like the series may have been designed explicitly to handle all the current space crossovers.

    For those of you still reading: is S.W.O.R.D. getting bogged down by the tie-ins or is Ewing pulling off a decent through-line specific to the book?

  2. Moonstar Logic says:

    @Thom: I’ve been reading all the books in the Krakoa era, and while clearly not all books are equal (or consistent even when they are great), SWORD–in my opinion–is the most consistently well-written book in the line right now (arguably 1a and 1b with Hellions depending on the day).

    Things these 2 books have in common:

    1. They explore different facets, implications, and consequences of the currently Krakoa status quo in interesting ways

    2. They have wacky casts of obscure or otherwise little-used characters with strong roles and identities that actually make you care about them

    3. They consistently deftly thread the needle whenever editorial-mandated narrative interruptions occur (usually in the form of crossovers); SWORD is particularly brilliant at this, which has obviously benefitted from being written by the current architect of Cosmic Marvel

    Additionally, Al Ewing appears to be able to write any character ever. His scripts for Magneto, Storm, Doom, Fabian Cortez? *chef’s kiss*

    I also want to say that many of the current strengths of SWORD and Hellions formerly applied to X-Factor (especially for how delightfully but organically pro-LGBTQIA+ it was), at least before it’s unfortunate cancellation (and the botched wrap-up of Prodigy’s arc).

    SWORD is so good right now, I even checked out GoTG #16 before I read SWORD #7, and I’m surprised that I’m even somewhat interested in Last Annihilation, considering I have skipped all line-wide crossovers since Civil War ruined everything for me. I highly recommend it.

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> Kirbons. Obviously a reference to Jack Kirby, and Ewing has used the word in some of his other books. However, it originates from Powers of X #5, when Nimrod theorised that the Phalanx’s masters were made of “electrons, protons, leptons, possibly even primordial kirbons”.

    I’m pretty sure it predates HOXPOX – I seem to recall it being used in Red Hulk’s origin, for instance.

  4. Chris V says:

    Marvel’s web-site shows House of X #5 as the first mention of such.
    There was a ret-con during Ewing’s Immortal Hulk which referenced Kirbons, but that comic was published after House.

  5. Ben Johnston says:

    I agree. Ewing is one of those writers who has a real gift for working in crossover elements without disrupting the flow of his regular storylines. I haven’t read anything else from the King in Black or Last Annihilation crossovers, but everything’s been clear from recap pages.

    This series has been a treat so far, even though I certainly agree that the crossovers have been excessive. I suspect they’ve also kept Ewing from getting back to his own plans — for example, teen Cable is introduced as a regular cast member back in the first issue, but we never got back to him.

    I hope we get to spend a little more time with the core cast soon. Abigail Brand has gotten plenty of space and I’m always pleased to see a larger role for Storm. But I liked the deep dive issue on Manifold, and I’d enjoy seeing something similar for other characters like Frenzy or Wiz-Kid.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    Storm may technically be a protagonist in the X-Books and a supporting character in the Black Panther books, but it seems to me that she ends up being emphasized more and written better when she leaves the X-Books. The panel time, at least, is probably larger.

  7. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I enjoy this book, but the crossovers have been excessive. The supposed main cast has gotten Marauders levels of screen time.

    Beast and Brand are perfect for each other. They can get married on an island made of the corpses they caused.

    Hulkling (and Wiccan) desperately need new code names and costumes. They’ve moved far past the original Young Avengers schtick.

    Doom is, as always, entirely correct.

    Dan Slott is a bigger FF villain than Doom.

    Storm is a character that has other characters constantly say “Wow Storm is incredible” but without anyone actually writing her doing much of anything.

  8. Si says:

    Hulkling definitely needs a new name. Emperor Dorrek is fine, as long as he has that job. Hopefully that status quo isn’t messed with for a decade or two at least.

    For Wiccan though, what they should really do is make him an actual Wiccan. He already repeats a chant to do spells, just adapt that so he’s using proper magic rhymes. Give him a big uniquely ornate athame for the cosplayers to drool over. Give him a pentagram necklace. Then you can play with concepts of the Mother Goddess and how she relates to Scarlet Witch and all of that. He’s already halfway there.

    By the way, I love that Doom’s mouthpiece opens like a mail slot so he can eat his profiteroles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

  9. Allan M says:

    I think this is one of the weakest Al Ewing books I’ve read. The crossovers have been excessive, and in fairness, three intergalactic invasion crossovers in less than a year is absurd even by Marvel standards.

    But fundamentally, Brand’s the only one with anything resembling a character arc or storyline. Manifold’s just kinda there. Kid Cable showed up, got possessed by black goo, and now he’s gone, so why introduce him at all? Frenzy’s done nothing. Cortez had a solid character moment and now seems to be in Way of X. Wiz Kid’s done nothing. Storm just showed up. Compared to Hellions or Ewing’s GOTG, the lack of direction for the cast sticks out.

  10. Thom H. says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It sounds like the main cast has gotten pushed aside a bit, which I was afraid of. Maybe I’ll pick up the Manifold issue and see what that’s like.

    I agree about all of the space invasions. You’d think Reed Richards would put out a general “cease and desist” order. Or that everyone in the galaxy would know by now that Earth is protected by the Avengers/FF/Guardians/etc.

  11. Jon R says:

    For the positive with crossovers, this one is executed well for SWORD’s own purposes. King in Black was one of those crossovers where (from what of it I read), there’s nothing for most titles to do but run around putting out fires. It wasn’t structured to give space for various books to matter to the plot. Of course, part of that’s normal when you try to do a linewide crossover. I think SWORD was in an annoying position there. It was too new for that crossover, but ignoring the crossover would weaken the entire point of SWORD.

    Here both books get to advance. Sure, Ewing’s writing both this and GotG, but the structure of the crossover is one where even if there were two separate writers they could still mesh together. SWORD gets their time to shine, but if Ewing weren’t writing it I could see him just saying to the editors “Hey, I’ve got a plot beat where some group
    can come in and turn the tide on an early battle. Know of any title where that’d benefit their own plotlines?”

    That’s the kind of crossover that SWORD needs to build their position. So I approve of this crossover, but at the same time they do definitely need to get some time without these crossovers to get the basics set better. I think things would be on more solid ground if they’d launched 3-4 months earlier to get their footing before KiB.

  12. Douglas says:

    As with a lot of his other books (his run of New Avengers, Ultimates, Loki: Agent of Asgard), Ewing is brilliant at using crossovers to make his own title get where it’s going–I can’t think of an example of one that’s “derailed” a Ewing series.

    Also, in the Ewing-written Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 (an AXIS crossover!), Doom notes that he uses Doombots to keep everyone in the dark about what he’s really doing and what he’s not: “I once let Arcade strike a match on me, just to maintain that confusion.” So his saying here that it was a Doombot is doubling down on the ambiguity!

  13. DigiCom says:

    It should probably be mentioned that the scene with S.W.O.R.D. rescuing Hulkling was partially seen at the very end of EMPYRE: AFTERMATH AVENGERS #1

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