One of Marvel's most popular mutants gets a world-shaking new status quo in June 23's SWORD #6 (opens in new tab) which could have implications that reach far, far beyond the boundaries of Krakoa - and which could change the place mutantkind occupies in the Marvel Universe at large.
SWORD #6, from writer Al Ewing and artists Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia, kicks off with the preview pages that Marvel released prior to the issue, in which Captain America and Doctor Doom discuss the philosophical ramifications of the X-Men having terraformed Mars into Planet Arakko - while the sinister Henry Peter Gyrich seemingly recruits Alpha Flight's James Hudson/Guardian into the anti-mutant group Orchis.
But from there, Abigail Brand drops some stunning revelations about what SWORD and mutantkind in general have in store for Planet Arakko, and her plans may change the entire political landscape of Marvel's cosmic wing - a 'New Age of Space' indeed.
We'll break it all down right now.
Spoilers ahead for SWORD #6.(opens in new tab)
Following Captain America and Doom's conversation, in which Doom implies the two may soon be allies against Krakoa and the mutants, we're transported across the stars to the meeting chambers of the Galactic Council, where SWORD leader Abigail Brand is addressing the galactic representatives of the Galactic Rim Collective, Great Kymellia, the House of Rigel, the Z'nrx Empire, the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, the Kree/Skrull Alliance, the Shi'Ar Empire, the Astrologers of Spartax, the Utopian Kree, and Richard Rider of Earth, who represents human interests but has a lesser position than a full council member.
Brand starts off by discussing the terraforming of Mars into Planet Arakko through mutant power and technology. Though some council members are mostly unimpressed thanks to the limited scale of the feat compared to the interplanetary empires of some council dignitaries, others, including Richard Rider, are upset or even concerned about the implications of mutants taking unilateral action to establish a new home world on Mars.
To win them over, Brand offers every council member in attendance a large quantity of Mysterium, the material that Brand guided Manifold and the other members of SWORD in harvesting from the time/space continuum, which has incredible properties that will aid the economies of all the worlds and empires of the Galactic Council. She suggests the Mysterium be used to create a new galactic currency known as "the Sol," after the name used for Earth's solar system.
Incredulous, Rider asks what Brand wants in return.
Brand responds that SWORD and Krakoa simply want recognition of Sol as a member of the Galactic Council - though with Planet Arakko as the leading world of the system, not Earth, with Earth essentially relegated to being part of Sol rather than its most important planet. Brand states Sol should be led by Planet Arakko because they have a unified world culture of mutants, unlike Earth which is splintered into many political factions and cultures.
As the council members begin to react, Doctor Doom appears, demanding to know, if Planet Arakko is so unified, who is the leader of the planet.(opens in new tab)
"Who is King of Mars? Who would speak for Sol?" Doom demands.
"Victor, you know my name," comes the demure response, as a slender, gloved hand comes through the Krakoa gate. "You all have heard it whispered. It is Wind-Rider. It is she-who-swam-with-Acanti. It is Hadari Yao."
And with that, the new ruler of Planet Arakko is revealed.
"I am Storm, Regent of Planet Arakko - and I am the voice of Sol!"
As Storm is revealed as the ruler of Planet Arakko, she summons a massive thunderclap to demonstrate the majesty of her royal bearing.
All signs point to Storm's rulership of Planet Arakko being the major development that's been teased for the character since even before 'X of Swords (opens in new tab),' which brought Arakko into the mainstream Marvel Universe to begin with.
Ruling a whole planet is no small accomplishment for Storm - and having a mutant as the Galactic representative of Sol, with Earth not even included in the decision making or influence could have unheard of ramifications across the Marvel Universe, well outside of the X-Men's usually private corner. But it won't be Storm's first time as a monarch, which could be exactly why the beloved and formidable mutant may have been chosen to lead Planet Arakko.
Only the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda rejects Brand's offer of Mysterium - which is particularly interesting, considering Storm was once married to T'Challa and sat as queen of Wakanda on Earth. The note offered with their rejection of the Mysterium reads "We have no need of mutant metals," and of course Wakanda is well known for its supply of the mystical metal Vibranium.
That could be the end of it, but it's also worth noting that the last time Storm saw T'Challa, she was stealing an ancestral Wakandan weapon during 'X of Swords'. She later returned it, but her deception soured her relationship with T'Challa - and possibly the relationship between Krakoa and Wakanda as a result.
Part of the issue's backmatter, which consists of a communication written by the Galactic Council's representative from the Kree/Skrull alliance Paibok the Power Skrull to Emperor Hulkling, includes an ominous, if slightly vague portion, which then leads right into the issue's final scene.
"I would strongly consider accepting Krakoa/Arakko's proposal - but not too soon," reads Paibok's missive. "The alliance remains in a position of considerable strength, and by showing restraint, we can bring some pressure to bear on smaller matters - such as the Wanda Maximoff situation, which has yet to be resolved, and which many consider to be an intolerant insult to the dignity of the throne."(opens in new tab)
From there, the issue jumps to Magneto's chambers on Planet Arakko where he sits alone celebrating his success in spearheading the initiative to create the new mutant home world. He's suddenly joined by - who else? - Wanda Maximoff, apparently at Magneto's personal invite.
Wanda laments the time she spent thinking Magneto was her father before learning the truth that she and her twin brother Pietro are not the children of Magneto at all (at least in comics) and are in fact not even mutants, but genetically engineered beings created by the High Evolutionary.
Magneto states his regret at the way their relationship and his mistreatment of Wanda affected her, and tells her that even though they are not biologically related, he still considers her his daughter - and he'll do anything it takes to make amends with her.
There are a lot of implications to unpack, between the backmatter and the subsequent scene. First off, it's not clear exactly what the embarrassing "Wanda Maximoff situation" Paibok mentions is. Wanda is, of course, Emperor Hulkling's mother-in-law by way of his husband Wiccan, one of Wanda's twin sons whose souls were reincarnated in new human bodies after she lost them.
The "situation" could be as simple as a person known to be as volatile as Wanda, who has used her powers to rewrite reality in villainous ways before, being so close to the throne. Or it could have something to do with the still un-reckoned-with events of Empyre: X-Men (opens in new tab), in which Wanda attempted to resurrect the dead population of the former mutant island of Krakoa during the Kree/Skrull alliance's war with the Cotati - an act that resulted in the mutants not being resurrected, but reanimated as necromantic zombies.
This coda to SWORD #6 comes to deadly fruition on June 30 - which we won't spoil for you here, but we do over in this rundown of X-Factor #10.
How it all shakes out remains to be seen - though Marvel is drawing the web of connections between its upcoming events and stories ever tighter.
SWORD #7 (opens in new tab) goes on sale on July 28.
With 'The Hellfire Gala' story wrapping up at the end of June, stay on top of everything coming up for Marvel's entire mutant line with our listing of all the new X-Men comics scheduled for release in 2021 and beyond.