This week's S.W.O.R.D. #1 from writer Al Ewing and artists Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia kicks off the new mutant space program, and enacts a mysterious mission that seems to be building toward a new evolution of mutant society.
While the issue raises more questions than answers, it provides new insight into what's coming as mutantkind branches into space - and introduces a mysterious new component of mutant lore.
Spoilers ahead for S.W.O.R.D. #1
S.W.O.R.D. #1 kicks off with Magneto arriving at the Peak space station, now rebuilt with Krakoan technology as a mutant space program of sorts. As S.W.O.R.D.'s council representative, Magneto tours the Peak, inspecting newly re-named S.W.O.R.D. director Abigail Brand's team, which consists of several branches.
First, there are the teleporters, a group of teleporting mutants led by Manifold, who are able to combine their powers to bend time and space with tremendous power. Then there's Wiz-Kid (the station's tech genius), Fabian Cortez (whose job is to synthesize the powers of the other S.W.O.R.D. operatives), and a contingent of ambassadors led by Frenzy.
All together, the group is led by a core squad known as the Six, a similar group to Krakoa's Five, who combine their powers to resurrect fallen mutants. However, the mission of The Six isn't as clear – Abigail Brand is building to a special task that will require the teleporters working with the rest of the Six to penetrate the barriers of reality and retrieve an unidentified object.
Throughout the issue, Magneto and Brand debate the full purpose of S.W.O.R.D. – Brand states she must think of the entire solar system rather than just Krakoa, while Magneto sees S.W.O.R.D. as the key to mutantkind's future. The implication seems to be that Magneto sees S.W.O.R.D. as a stepping stone to building a full mutant homeworld.
However, the key to S.W.O.R.D.'s plans seems unclear – they're working to a specific goal alongside the Six, whose mission is enacted toward the end of the issue.
As they synthesize their powers, they reach deep into the make-up of time and space, with the narration making cosmic declarations of intent. It's not revealed where they go exactly, but references are made to the White Hot Room, the place where the essence of former Phoenix hosts resides. As they venture into their odd destination, Manifold reaches out and retrieves some kind of artifact – a physical manifestation of whatever forces The Six are manipulating.
Returning to the Peak, Manifold states the group "broke some cosmic laws" and hands of the artifact – a black crystal shaped like a diamond. The identity of the artifact, apparently referred to in the backmatter under a redacted name, impresses even Magneto, who expresses disbelief that it’s in their possession.
S.W.O.R.D. #2 goes on sale on January 13.
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