Ewing’s cosmic epic continues to come together while also telling its part of the grand Krakoan X-Men epic. This is simply a great book, even with a new art team.
The Hellfire Gala is over, and none of the X-Men titles felt as momentous of a shift as S.W.O.R.D. The latest issue continues to feel the repercussions of that as war comes to Marvel’s cosmic universe with the Last Annihilation crossover.
This issue continues to build and explore a new era in the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. However, with a new cast addition, it also is a huge shift for the title as well. It comes from Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, and Ariana Maher.
Dormammu’s invasion of Kree-Skrull space is devastating worlds and tearing the Kree-Skrull Alliance apart. Thankfully SWORD is on-hand to help. Meanwhile, two leaders spar as Doom and Storm have one of the most loaded dinner parties in comics history.
It’s easy to say this up front. This issue ruled.
Ewing was able to balance the after-effects of the Hellfire Gala (while specifically stalling one bit of aftermath in particular), the needs of his crossover story, and include elements of his Hulk run all at once without the story ever feeling rushed or overstuffed. The action in space felt epic, and gave the story a huge scale, even though it largely only told the story of one specific battle and the characters embroiled in it. Even better, it does it while continuing to show the morally grey lengths Abigail Brand will go to do her job.
Meanwhile, the Storm and Doom storyline was tense and entertaining. The dialogue was sharp, and Ewing wrote both characters better than either of them had been written in years. Several specific lines stood out, and there was even some great continuity nods in it that showed they had history without bashing me over the head with it. It signals a huge step forward for the title that I can’t wait to read.
This was also where Maher shined this issue, using her letters to guide us through the conversation, and carefully choosing how to emphasize certain words and phrases to make the the subtext of the script- and the tension between the characters- drips off the page. Maher just has simply become one of my favorite letterers.
Unfortunately the art was a bit of a mixed bag. On the line-art side, this issue was great. Caselli is one of Marvel’s strongest artists, and he’s able to make big action scenes shine as much as the quiet dinner. His depiction of Doom is quiet and regal, making the dictator jump off the page. His layouts are great, expanding in the right places for splashes and action shots, while drawing in tight and close for the moments that need emotional intimacy.
Unfortunately Sifuentes-Sujo’s colors don’t work for the issue. They’re heavily over-rendered, with gradients so prominent that it makes the characters feel like they’re plastic instead of human beings. There are a few places where the colors overshadow the line art in a way that Caselli’s distinct style isn’t recognizable. Now this is the first book I’ve read colored by him to my memory, so hopefully he’s a relatively young color artist and just needs time to grow, but I hope he is able to learn quickly.
In the end though, this is still probably my favorite book of the line this month. It’s tense, action packed, and character driven. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next… if the universe isn’t annihilated by Dormmamu that is.
S.W.O.R.D. #7 is available now from Marvel Comics.