December 22's SWORD #11 drops a surprise teaser for the previously announced upcoming 'Destiny of X' era title X-Men: Red, similar to the recent announcement of Knights of X in the series finale of Excalibur.
The teaser for X-Men: Red includes some not-so-surprising implications about what the title means (hint: it looks like we were dead-on when we guess it might relate to Mars, the 'Red Planet'), but that plays off SWORD #11's massive revelations about the nature of SWORD and the future of the mutant space program to boot.
The teaser art shows Storm raging among some wreckage, while the text reads "A broken throne for a broken world." The smaller text in the upper left corner of the teaser reads "Dawn, Dusk, Day, Night," the names of the four seats of the Arakko Quiet Council; while the text on the bottom right reads "Voice of Sol. Regent of Arakko," Storm's two titles as the planet's leader.
This implies that whatever happens next on Planet Arakko, Storm's time as Regent is about to become complicated.
A follow up announcement from Marvel Comics lists the X-Men: Red creative team as writer Al Ewing and artist Stefano Caselli.
Though it hasn't been officially confirmed, judging by the lack of SWORD in Marvel's January and February 2022 solicitations, it seems like SWORD #11 from writer Al Ewing, artists Jacopo Camagni and Fernando Sifuentes, and letterer Ariana Maher is likely the series finale for the title, with an implication that the impending X-Men: Red will take its place as the X-space title when the X-Men line relaunches with 'Destiny of X', with X-Men: Red arriving in April, per the teaser.
So what does SWORD #11 have in store for Krakoa, and what does it seem to say about X-Men: Red? Read on to find out.
Spoilers ahead for SWORD #11
SWORD #11 picks up directly after the events of SWORD #10, in which Whiz-Kid seemingly betrayed SWORD and the X-Men to Henry Peter Gyrich and Orchis, giving Gyrich the necessary tools to make the Peak, SWORD's space station, come crashing down to Earth - only to reveal that he and a shrunk-down Abigail Brand were actually there planning to take Gyrich down, with Whiz-Kid acting as a "triple agent."
With The Peak crashing not towards its intended destination of the middle of the ocean, but instead toward Australia where its crash will cause untold loss of life, Manifold moves into position to use his teleportation powers to divert the station. At the same time, Cable hangs on inside, using his telekinesis to hold the station together while Manifold creates a portal large enough to send it back up toward space, where Cable can regain control.
Though The Peak is successfully diverted and Australia is saved, Cable pays a great price as the techno-organic virus usually kept in check by his telekinesis has run rampant in his body, causing his cybernetic arm to evolve in a strange way - SWORD #11's first toll on a mutant.
Meanwhile, on Gyrich's Alpha Flight station, Gyrich argues with Guardian of the Alpha Flight team over the crash of the Peak, with Guardian saying Gyrich will pay the consequences of risking so many lives. As Gyrich gloats back that he won't face any consequences, Whiz-Kid reveals his ruse as a Krakoan triple agent by explaining that he's downloaded all of Alpha Flight's data - including all of Gyrich's secret Orchis connections. And what's more, he's sending them to the Shi'Ar to reveal Gyrich's part in the Lethal Legion's assassination attempt on the Shi'Ar Majestrix Xandra, all but ensuring they'll take swift revenge.
Speaking of which, the assassination attempt is averted by Storm, who controls the air pressure around the Lethal Legion to such a degree that it causes their eyes to explode, and all of the villains to pass out.
Back on the Alpha Flight station, Gyrich attempts to flee, entering an escape pod. But Abigail Brand reveals herself as the person behind his downfall, trapping him in the pod and confronting him over his connections to both Orchis, and to the enigmatic Orbis Stellaris, creator of the Lethal Legion.
However, Brand has some shocking revelations of her own - specifically that, though she hates Gyrich and is going to sell him out to every one of his possible enemies, she has a surprising motivation for doing so.
She's the actual double agent working with Orchis to betray Krakoa and mutantkind - and she's planning to destroy Krakoa as soon as the nation and its inhabitants have unwittingly fulfilled their part of her scheme to turn Earth's Sol system into a galactic seat of power with Mars/Planet Arakko as its center.
And with that, Brand expels Gyrich into the vacuum of space, explaining that she's made it appear he ejected himself in a faulty escape pod to avoid Krakoan justice over killing a human. Gyrich floats into space and dies, thus ending the career of one of the most manipulative, malicious, and self-serving villainous bureaucrats in Marvel history.
Brand's revelations about her own sinister affiliations calls into question the teaser that showed up way back at the end of Empyre, the story that led to the launch of SWORD, in which Brand stands over the fallen Emperor Hulkling of the Kree/Skrull Alliance, with it unclear whether she's there to help or harm him.
This also may explain what Destiny has feared from Krakoa and Moira X that made Destiny vow to kill Moira in every one of her incarnations - a warning which in turn led Moira to attempt to permanently stop Destiny from being resurrected, though she was ultimately brought back.
If what Destiny saw was Abigail Brand's eventual betrayal as a result of the creation of Krakoa, Planet Arakko, and the other significant events of recent years, that would explain her objections to Moira X's manipulations.
Look for the story to continue in the new X-Men: Red series debuting in April 2022.
There's a lot going on for the X-Men leading into the 'Destiny of X' relaunch. Keep up with everything mutant related with our handy listing of all the new X-Men comics planned for release in 2021, 2022, and beyond.