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S.W.O.R.D.: The Cutting Edge

Join writer Kieron Gillen as he unsheathes a mighty weapon against Marvel's hostile aliens in S.W.O.R.D.

S.W.O.R.D. #2 cover by John Cassaday
By Jim Beard

Writer Kieron Gillen describes S.W.O.R.D. #1-out November 11-as an "escape-velocity state-of-the-art action comic." What else would any fan expect from a story that features the bodacious Agent Brand, the X-Men's Beast and the most irritable government liaison in the Marvel Universe, Henry Gyrich?

"It's all spinning out of Gyrich's initial plan," says Gillen of the story's inaugural adventure. "He's cut straight to the heart of the problem: Earth was invaded by aliens? We need to get rid of all the aliens, stat. Brand doesn't know, and is going to have to clear a desk full of kidnapped brothers, mysterious signals and general robotic chaos before she even has a chance to realize that Gyrich is destroying every single thing the organization is for.

"There was a line in my initial pitch for the series: 'In Space, no-one has time to breathe.' That's our series. It motors."

Slashing its way out of such series as SECRET INVASION and ASTONISHING X-MEN, the S.W.O.R.D. agency's putting itself back together sans headquarters and a cohesive leadership structure, or so Gyrich believes. Brand chafes at the G-Man's very presence, according to Gillen.

"As we open, they're both falling into a pained routine of working with one another," he notes. "It pretty much means a direct split of responsibility. Brand deals with the basic running of the organization and desperate troubleshooting. Gyrich mainly concentrates on mid-level management and planning, trying to shape S.W.O.R.D. more to his liking. His first really

S.W.O.R.D. #1 cover by John Cassaday
big plan is about to go into motion, which is where we join the story. Brand is hating every minute of this. Her one happy thing is that Beast is now a permanent S.W.O.R.D. member."

"Happy thing" moments in the series clash with decidedly unhappy incidents, which seem to center around Gyrich's mood and S.W.O.R.D. members' reactions thereof.

"Any organization, let alone a secret one, is always suspicious of people from the outside being dropped in command position," Gillen explains. "Gyrich's actually been lucky. That Brand irritates as many of her staff as much as she does has been an enormous boon for Gyrich. Of course, as they get to know him, they'll discover he's just as abrasive as Abigail. The S.W.O.R.D. staff really can't get a break.

"Gyrich likes the job as much as he likes anything, i.e. not very much. He looks at the events around the Secret Invasion as an enormous disaster. And of all the organizations [that] dropped the ball, S.W.O.R.D. is foremost. Stopping the Skrull's invasion was their entire job. As long as he's in charge, he's never going to let it happen again, and he'll take any measures he needs to do it. Admittedly, that's the one thing that Brand and Gyrich share. They just differ in the details."

Citing his "hilarious cast" as one of the joys of his ongoing S.W.O.R.D. writing experiences, Gillen relishes the task of teaming the reptilian Sydren, Kitty Pryde's dashing dragon Lockheed and original X-Man the

Henry Peter Gyrich
Beast, but it's perhaps the villain he introduces in the series that's captured his imagination the most.

"In terms of new characters, UNIT is the one," he states. "It takes until issue #3 until we get to see much of him, but he's my attempt to introduce a useful, novel and quietly threatening villainous long-term foil. He's basically a cross between C-3P0 and Hannibal Lecter and I don't want to say any more than that."

S.W.O.R.D.'s been in the background of the Marvel Universe for "decades" says the writer, dealing with aliens and generally keeping a low-profile. Their very high-profile failure against the Skrull ups the ante on their future, though. Expect the Marvel Universe to be watching and waiting on what happens next, most especially the X-Men.

"Its Beast who's keeps the primary link between the X-Men and S.W.O.R.D.," says Gillen. "The X-Men know what Beast is up to, and there's an obvious back and forth there. Especially when Gyrich's deportation goes into play; there are more than a few X-Men affiliates who have an alien background, after all. It's the approach we take with the rest of the Marvel Universe-we're a book which exists on the cusp of space and

Agent Brand
Earth, and so can draw story energy from both. In the second issue people will see what we can do with even the shortest vignettes.

"In short: if you're an alien, or you know an alien, S.W.O.R.D. may be interested in you."

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Is this a mini? I didn't see it mentioned in the article.Looks like it could be good. Not really any mention of Beast and Brand's relationship. Hopefully that gets covered, as well.


This could be pretty good. I'm a Beast fan so I'll check it out. Beast looks so small on the cover. Too many artists draw him way too small sometimes.