S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series) #1

Issue Date: 
February 2021
Story Title: 

Al Ewing (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Marte Gracia (colors), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson; Jen Bartel; Ema Lupachino & Jordie Bellaire (alternate cover), Jay Bowen (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Magneto visits the Peak – the new SWORD station, now mostly staffed by mutants and working with Krakoa. He is greeted by Kid Cable, the head of security, and later Commander Abigail Brand, who heads SWORD. Magneto shows off with his powers by putting the Peak in geosynchronous orbit with Earth. Brand shows him the station and introduces her staff, several of whom used to work with Magneto. Some reunions are pleasant, such as with Peepers, others less so, when he meets the obsequious Fabian Cortez, whom nobody likes but who is indispensable for their work. Magneto witnesses the Six working together – a group of mutants including Manifold, Cortez, Peepers, Wiz Kid, Armor and Risque. Working in concert with a group of teleporters, they travel through space and dimensions bringing back a strange new metal.

Full Summary: 

“This is what comes next.”
Abigail Brand

A metal globe flies towards the PEAK, SWORD Station One. It is welcomed in the central docking bay where Magneto steps out of the globe. He is welcomed by Kid Cable (flanked by Risque and Random), who preens at his position as Director of Security. Did he detect a note of “hope your survive the experience?” Magneto asks sardonically. Nate retorts that he is pretty sure if Magneto dies on his watch he’ll get fired, so try not to die of old age while he is here. He shall do his very best, Magneto deadpans.

Purpose of visit? Nate asks business-like. Magneto explains he is there on behalf of the Quiet Council. They are very excited by what is being done on the PEAK. Anyone else feel that? Nate suddenly asks. Nothing major, Magneto explains, a little relocation work. It saves on fuel, as he moves the station. Nate is baffled that he is conducting an inspection while moving a thousand-ton space station into place. He also plans to walk and chew a little gum, Magneto jokes. Nate asks him not to get any scratches on the station.

Commander Abigail Brand joins them and orders Cable back to his duties. She coolly acknowledges Magneto, who flies upward to join her. Brand asks why he undertook the journey here under his own power, instead of using a Krakoan gate. Magneto takes off his helmet. Why does a man climb a mountain? he asks rhetorically. When there’s a perfectly good ski lift? she shoots back. It’s good to travel the harder road sometimes. After all, if they never tested their limits, they might assume they have some.

Brand shows him the tech suite ala the Red Zone, headed by the wheelchair-bound teenage mutant genius Wiz Kid. Takeshi informs her the Krakoan plant tech is bonded perfectly with the station’s original systems. Performance increases across the board. Brand notes he is sticking with the name he chose as a kid - Wiz Kid. Mockingly, he asks if it is not cool enough. It is not a marketable brand, Brand? he puns. Fun fact: Cable named himself after a…

He swears when he notes Magneto, then gushes what an honor it is to meet one of the Krakoan architects in person. They all have their role to play, Magneto replies and observes Wiz Kid is a technopath. Apparently, that also includes Krakoa’s unique biotechnology. Any technology, Wiz Kid replies.

Brand interjects that he is one of the Six. The Control. He runs the machine. Then the honor is his, Magneto smiles. If he is one of Krakoa’s architects, Wiz Kid is one of the architects of Krakoa’s future.

Brand reminds Wiz Kid that launch is at 1300 and not to miss it. She politely asks Magneto to continue with her. He notes something is wrong. Krakoa’s future? she asks. He points out that the Six may not be as essential as the Five but, in the coming days, their contribution will change everything for all of them. All of them… or just the magic island? Brand asks sharply. He retorts she is part of the magic island, too. But not subordinate to it, she reminds him. She works with the Council by mutual agreement. She doesn’t work for Krakoa. And yet – here he is, he smiles. An old man pushing a thousand pounds of steel through a crowded sky… because she is mutant. And so Krakoa works for her.

Brand is at a loss for words at that. She admits they need the help. SWORD picked the right time to come back. They’ve got a galactic economic crash that destroyed the current currency. They’ve got Snarkwar – an unstoppable alien war of succession that could destabilize galactic peace. And then there’s something roaming through space eating and killing whole planets. And all they know is it’s not Galactus. She could go on. One reason she quit the Alpha Flight Space Program was because it didn’t have the resources for problem solving on that level. They were always a step behind – at least in comparison with the SHIELD black budget days. Not to mention, half the time the damn superheroes forgot to tell them what they were up to.

Never a problem she’ll have with them, Magneto promises. She admits she is grateful but she still has to think bigger than a single island’s future. For all their advances mutants are still Earthers thinking Earther thoughts, thinking in terms of nations. She’s a spacer – spacers think in solar systems – in worlds and stars, and SWORD has to speak on that level. They can’t only speak for Krakoa. SWORD has to speak for Sol.

Magneto smiles as he points out that the station is staffed by mutants. If SWORD speaks for Sol, who speaks for SWORD? They do.

The Diplomatic Suite the Stranger Room:
Joanna Carill (aka Frenzy) is beating up a Skrull. Magneto greets the former Acolyte. He hears she is ambassador for Earth now. She introduces her sparring partner, Paibok of the Kree / Skrull Alliance. She was giving him the tour. Paibok praises the well-appointed holo arena and the keen understanding of the nuances of ritual combat that implies. He is impressed and will make his recommendations accordingly. Then they can expect a visit from the emperor soon? Frenzy asks. Hesitant, he replies he will do what is in his power, but certain… issues remain.

Issues? Magneto asks. Brand translates bluntly: Through their alliance, the Kree and Skrull now jointly hold power at least equal to the Shi ar. So… declaring the emperor’s mother-in-law an enemy of the state? Not ideal. Magneto turns away with a grim smile. Wanda. The pretender. He refers to the woman he once believed to be his daughter. Ghost mother to the court wizard, Paibok agrees, speaking directly to him, and an Avenger. He stresses that the emperor thinks highly of her. He considers it a great shame that they do not. Magneto glares silently.

He steps out of the suite, announcing that it is early: 1300. The Six will be waiting.

Paibok muses that he’d heard of this earther who bends steel with but a thought, but he thinks not his own. Does she know him? he asks Frenzy. Once upon a time she all but worshipped him, she admits wistfully. But she moved on.

Outside the suite, Magneto is accosted by man who immediately falls to his knees and calls him “my lord.” Brand mutters an apology to Magneto, who pretends not to recognize Fabian Cortez. The former Acolcyte enthuses how fortunate it is they meet again in this new age, when all past sins are forgiven. He wished to genuflect and offer his most sincere… No thank you, Magneto replies and strides past him.

Cortez quickly catches himself. No time for pleasantries when the launchpad awaits, he agrees and hurries after them. But in the future, when Magneto is not busy, might he speak to him about the Council’s edict regarding the humans?

Why him exactly? Magneto whispers to Brand who apologetically replies, slim pickings, short notice. They are working on it.

She takes him to the Launchpad, next to several department heads the teleporters are waiting there: Manifold, Lila Cheney, Amelia Voght, Blink and Vanisher.

Brand describes they can reach any Krakoan gate from here but they are going further today. Wiz Kid explains this is a two-stage launch. With his help, the teleporters can merge their powers, so they can take them where they need to be.

Magneto is pleasantly surprised by another familiar face. A small, bald man with protruding eyes - the telepath named Peeper, a short time member of Magneto’s Brotherhood. Magneto greets him happily. He had no idea he was on the Six. Peeper jokes that they had a use for the eyes. And when he isn’t doing this, he is working with old Marv (referring to Mentallo) over in Analysis. Ain’t no council gig but nice to be wanted. Magneto insists they must catch up properly after all this. Peeper agrees and adds he has some ideas he’d like to run past the Council. Anytime, Magneto promises. He’s always valued his input.

Cortez is taken aback by how differently Peeper gets treated. Brand coldly orders him to his station. For once, he is needed. He announces haughtily that, without him, none of this happens. He joins and powers up the teleporters working together. Led by Manifold, they join their powers together and then they are left behind and the Six are gone: Manifold, Cortez, Wiz Kid, Peeper Armor and Risque. And now it’s in the lap of the gods, Magneto murmurs.

The Six are somewhere else and moving farther still, into the heart of creation, their powers working in tandem. They do not just see the fire, they bring it back.

The Peak is now in geostationary orbit above Krakoa, thanks to the gloating Magneto. Brand shushes him. She feels ionic discharge. It’s too soon. She orders the teleporters to connect with Manifold. They are his anchor. She tells them to bring the Six home. They comply. And the Six return, exhausted.

So, they broke some laws, some cosmic ones, Wiz Kid groans. Manifold agrees. He’s seen some stuff he tells Brand. Never seen that stuff before. Came pretty close to a ticket to a golden egg, but they did it. They brought it back. He hands over a small dark deodreon. Wiz Kid adds, he checked it for radiation on any spectrum, nothing. It’s cooled.

Magneto exclaims: She was right. SWORD is the mutant space program… but this, what they are holding here - it goes beyond anything he’s ever dreamed of. It’s… this is… Brand smirks. This is what comes next.

You have stolen fire from heaven to hold in your hands. How could I object? I have done the same myself – with one significant difference.
I wore gloves.
Be careful.”
Victor von Doom

Characters Involved: 

Commander Abigail Brand
Kid Cable (head of security)
Armor, Fabian Cortez, Manifold, Peepers, Risque, Wiz kid (The Six)
Blink, Lila Cheney, Gateway, Vanisher, Amelia Voght



Story Notes: 

Text pages:

Personal log of Brand containing her criticism about the end of the Alpha Flight programAn explanation of the role of the SixWhile the other mutants are heads of their departments, Cortez is nominally department head, but really his department works around him.

Further notes:

Brand resigned from the Alpha flight project in the aftermath of the Empyre event.

Wiz Kid originated in the X-Terminators limited series during the Inferno event. Later, he worked with Avengers Academy before joining SWORD.

Frenzy used to be one of the Magneto-worshipping Acolytes before working with the X-Men.

Emperor Hulkling is displeased with Krakoa’s dislike of the Scarlet Witch, as she is his mother-in-law.

Fabian Cortez has betrayed Magneto several times. [X-Men (2nd series) #1-3 and Magneto: Dark Seduction]

Peeper was in a short-lived version of Magneto’s Brotherhood. [Captain America annual #4]

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