S.W.O.R.D. #6 features a collection of breathtaking character moments, and you might get enough joy out of this to get past some mild issues with the plot, but as the "night" comes to a close for the twenty-plus issue Hellfire Gala. However, there's still a spectacle to be seen and great proclamations to be heard, even if there aren't any actual things to (visually) do.
If you've been sleeping under a rock and missed it, the mutant nation of Krakoa used the terraforming of Mars as a finale for their diplomatic event, peopling most of the planet with the brutal, bloodthirsty mutants of Arrako. Here, they make a political show of that with their galactic neighbors, offering their new "capitol" of the solar system as a diplomatic embassy and making some big diplomatic moves. In a visual medium, "big diplomatic moves" aren't very different from "talking heads." Still, you can sense Frank Herbert would have appreciated the scope and focus of this, especially with how it made the tedious King in Black crossover have some actual consequences worth noting.
Let's talk character. Captain America and Doctor Doom have a real, genuine moment that's got poster-worthy quotes and really gives you gravitas and meaning from both characters. That's a super pleasant surprise. Doom also plays into a great bit of grandstanding and political theatre in the revelation of the arguable leader of Mars, which also has Peter Quill in antlers for some reason. Magneto enjoys a drink and a gigantic showing of grace towards a virtual pariah in these parts. All of those moments had great emotional resonance, and the Al Ewing script makes each meaningful if not necessarily earned in the narrative here.
Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Ariana Maher do a great job of using lighting and space to create a sense of mood and consideration when momentous words are spoken in spaces that might just look like people talking otherwise. That works well up to a point, but again, the thrilling camera angles and lighting effects can only do so much.
If this was a prose science fiction work, it'd be freaking riveting. As a comic, it's good — not as great as its gestures, but good nonetheless. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti
THIS IS WHAT COMES NEXT. On Earth, the HELLFIRE GALA is in full swing. But on S.W.O.R.D. Station One, a very different guest list comes together as Abigail Brand finally unveils her plans for Mysterium – and the future of human and mutantkind.