S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series) #6

Issue Date: 
August 2021
Story Title: 
This is What Comes Next

Al Ewing (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Marte Gracia (colors), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia (cover artists),Valerio Schiti (SWORD Design artist), Russell Dautermann & Matthew Wilson (Captain Britain design cover), Russell Dautermann & Matthew Wilson (connecting 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)

Brief Description: 

After the Hellfire Gala, several non-mutant guests are still shocked from the revelations, mainly from the terraforming of Mars. Henry Gyrich uses that to recruit a despondent James McDonald Hudson for Orchis. When Dr. Doom asks him about his opinion, explains that, when he first woke up from the ice, learning about the moon landing gave him hope and he became sad when humans didn’t continue their exploration of space. So, he thinks this is a positive development; he just wishes they could have done it together. On the PEAK, Brand welcomes ambassadors from the Galactic Council and offers their world’s Mysterium in exchange for their acknowledgement of Arakko as the new voice of Sol. Dr. Doom makes an uninvited entrance, demanding to know who leads Arakko and learns it is Storm. After the Gala, Magneto is joined by the Scarlet Witch, who didn’t dare come earlier. The two talk and he admits to still thinking of her as his daughter.

Full Summary: 

The Hellfire Gala:
1:10 am, after the fireworks:
Captain America stands outside, pondering what just happened. Other guests are leaving. A shocked James Macdonald Hudson complains to Henry Peter Gyrich that he can’t believe they’ just… do that. Gyrich suggests he should stop thinking about them as his friends. These X-Men represent a rogue nation. One that has just shown how far they ‘ll go to take humanity’s place as Earth’s dominant species. Max stammers, deeply disturbed he doesn’t know what to think. The power it takes… and they just… at a fashion event! It’s too big! Gyrich agrees and smoothly adds he’d like him to meet some people. Has he ever heard of Orchis?

Dr. Doom curtly asks Captain America about his thoughts. Cap replies he’s still a little shellshocked. He’s sure Doom would call that weakness. Doom demurs that he has more respect for Captain America than he knows. After all, are they not both the faces of their nations? Cap chuckles, then explains that, the first week when he came out of the ice, it was a dark time. He’d lost everything and everyone. And then Tony Stark came in… with this little handheld cinema. Future technology. He showed him a newsreel. Right there, he saw a man walk on the moon. For all mankind. And in that moment, he felt hope again. And it hit him. Decades had passed since then. What had they reached by then? He asked Tony if they had reached Mars. Tony gave him a sad little smile, then he changed the subject. And here they are. Watching it all from the sidelines.

And is he afraid? Doom demands What kind of question is that? Cap wonders. Afraid of what? The future? Because that’s not who he is. Never has been. Despite everything he has been through. Despite all the challenges to come, he believes in a better tomorrow. In a smaller voice, he adds that he’d just hoped they’d all look for it together.

He thinks perhaps they will, Doom muses before he steps though the gate. There will come a time when the Captain will need his help and, when that day arrives, he has Doom’s word he will not make a gala performance out of it.

The PEAK, in the Diplomatic Suite ambassador Frenzy, dressed to the nines, and Abigail Brand, dressed in a pirate outfit, inform several alien envoys of the Galactic Council that using mutant technology they have now fully terraformed Mars. They’ve already installed a sister station – the KEEP – along with a working spaceport and diplomatic zone which they are all more than welcome to visit. And they’ve begun the process of settling the planet with mutants of Arakko. They are a warrior culture. They’ll like them. Any questions so far?

Just one, the Kymellian envoy Nymbis Sternhoof announces: Why exactly should they care? He doesn’t wish to be rude— the Rigelian Mentacle interrupts that actually he does. But they are all wrestling with an economic crisis on a galactic scale, Mentacle continues. They are busy. Orbis Stellaris interjects that the planetary engineering method is more efficient than any they have seen. Work that might take a standard year performed in mere minutes. Humanity is obviously capable of far more than they had previously considered.

Riitho of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda points out that Krakoa is only a nation. Compared to what Wakanda has achieved, this feels unimpressive. Smasher, speaking for the Shi’ar, warns that this is gonna piss people off. Nova agrees. And while he doesn’t want to start a fight twice in one visit, he thinks he is one of them. Did they consult anyone about this? he asks Brand. He adds he is meant to be Earth’s representative on the Galactic Council.

Frenzy interrupts he has made it clear he has other priorities. Where was he when Knull came to Earth? Off saving seven billion other people, he mutters. And stopping some homicidal gods. Frenzy points out that his plate is full enough without worrying about them.

Brand continues that they all make fair points. They are great civilizations. To them, Earth is something of a backwater. A world of factions. Terraforming their neighboring planet is exciting to humanity, not to them. They need to do more, and they have.

She invites Wiz Kid and Manifold. Wiz Kid carries a stick of the Mysterium. Brand explains it’s a unique material condensed from certain exotic particles. The recipe is need-to-know, but Earth’s mutants are the only ones who can currently create it. Wiz Kid begins to explain Mysterium’s properties: it functions like metal, but not just any metal. It’s easy to shape but once it’s cooled to below 200 degrees kelvin it has strength on a par with secondary adamantium. It conducts electricity at 100% efficiency and, unlike most metal, it barely conducts or retains heat and it’s radiationproof. Ship hulls at ten percent of normal thickness that they can fly through the sun. Computers that run at 100% efficiency forever and never fail. He hasn’t even mentioned the magnetic properties. Put simply: this is what comes next.

And it’s theirs, Brand adds. They’ll each leave with one hundred tons of mysterium for their people. A little goes a long way. That much alone will foster a minor economic miracle for their worlds. She throws one to Peter Quill, speaking for Spartax.

They also have mysterium reserves in certain locations, which they are willing to donate to the Galactic Council either to back the credit or use as the basis of a new currency. They could call it the Sol.

What is this stuff? Peter wonders. Orbis Stellaris asks how much mysterium can be produced at once. Brand replies that they don’t intend to flood the universe with it. Condensing it is an effort and they don’t need much themselves. They have their own technology.

Riitho of the Interstellar Empire of Wakanda announces that T’Challa will no doubt accept the gift in the spirit it was intended but no more. Speak for himself, Smasher states on behalf of the Shi’ar. This stuff rocks! Riitho replies he speaks for Wakanda. They too have their own technology and do not need charity!

Richard Rider of the Nova Corps speaks up. Brand doesn’t do charity. This is a bribe. The question is, what does it pay for? Brand smirks. She is glad he asked. Krakoa made a similar deal with Earth when this all started. They give them what they need and what they ask in return is acknowledgment. They now have what the other members of the Council have. A single unified government. Sol is finally a true member on the galactic stage. So, from this day forth, when they have business with Sol, it isn’t with Earth. It’s with the capital planet of the Sol system: planet Arakko. Any questions?

Just one. Dr. Doom teleports in. Why should he care? Peter asks what he is doing here. Doom asks why he wasn’t invited. He is waiting for his answer, he tells Brand. She says Sol is now a true system, a political entity like Rigel or Spartax or the Throne world. She claims Earth could never function as such, because it is divided. She implies Mars is different. United. That it speaks with one voice. Doom would hear that voice.

They can make that happen, she replies. Interesting that this is the most important fact for him. Of course, it is, he replies as Manifold begins creating a doorway. He wants to know who the King of Mars is. Who would speak for Sol?

He knows her name, a voice comes from the doorway. Storm appears surrounded by lightning as she announces she speaks for Sol.

Mykines 3:17 am:
The celebrations are over. Magneto enjoys a quiet drink, satisfied with the evening. Magnus, a voice calls out behind him. He turns around to see the woman who for the longest time was believed to be his daughter. The Scarlet Witch. She got his invitation. He tells her he didn’t think she’d come. He so wanted her to see the fireworks. She apologizes. She tried but she couldn’t. Not after everything she did. Everything she said. The Pretender can’t sit at the feast, she whispers as she looks away in shame.

He is quiet for a moment, then asks if he ever told her of his daughter Anya. Probably not. She had eyes like her and hair like autumn leaves. The humans killed her, of course. He didn’t even know he was a mutant back then. They were humans at the mercy of humans. Prey for their systems… their societies… and now… now he finds himself the great mutant hero. He runs their systems, governs their society. He helped build a world today… and he was happy for the children… but then he thought of his children and how he’d failed them. All of them.

She reminds him she is not really his… He knows. But sometimes what is real is not the same as what is true. He offers his hand with a smile as he tells her sometimes it takes two to pretend. The two share a dance as he assures her that she is his daughter. She will always be his daughter. And he will do what he must to make things right…

Characters Involved: 

Brand, Frenzy, Manifold, Wiz-Kid (all staff of SWORD)

Captain America

Dr. Doom
Henry Peter Gyrich

Nova Prime
Nymbis Sternhoof
Marvel Boy III
Empress Kuga
Orbis Stellaris

Story Notes: 

Text pages:
A list of the galactic representatives.

A message from Paibok to Kree/Skrull Emperor Hulkling, listing that all the empires except for the Wakandans (who don’t need it) accepted the deal.

Further notes:
This is part of the Hellfire Gala running through all the August 2021 X-titles.

The issue crosses over with Guardians of the Galaxy (6th series) #15, in which Nova and Magneto had a run-in.

Brand’s people created Mysterium in issue #1.

Magneto and the Scarlet Witch’s scene leads into the Trial of Magneto limited series.

Written By: