S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series) #7

Issue Date: 
August 2021
Story Title: 
Full Spectrum Diplomacy

Al Ewing (writer), Valerio Schiti, (artist), Photobunker’s Fer Sifuenrte-Sujo (colors), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Ivan Shavrin (alternate cover), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (Associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

On Throneworld, Emperor Hulkling and several of his troops are fighting off Dormammu’s Mindless Ones. He hopes for help from Earth after having warned Alpha Flight, but to no avail. When the enemies are about to overwhelm them, it is SWORD that comes to help. As they support the Kree and Skrull soldiers, Brand warns Hulkling not to trust Alpha Flight under Gyrich’s command. Storm, in her new role as viceroy of Mars/Arakko, has dinner with Dr. Doom, where they exchange polite barbs. He offers to teach mutantkind about the magical properties of their new miracle metal Mysterium but Storm makes it clear they are not dependent on or interested in his help.

Full Summary: 

Throneworld II, built from the ruins of Hala:
Hulkling, emperor of the Kree Skrull Empire, contacts Captain Glory, the Kree’s greatest supersoldier, who has been serving out a life sentence on a penal colony and who is now teleported to his side. Captain Glory reminds Hulkling he told him he would need him one day, but he’s surprised that day came quite so soon. Hulkling wryly replies it’s been one of those days and asks if he has been briefed.

As he has just been hauled out of his cell, Hulkling gives him the short version: they are under attack by Mindless Ones and they need every weapon they have, super soldiers included. He explains Mindless Ones are magical entities, walking engines of total destruction, aimed and fired by the Dread Dormammu, lord of the Dark Dimension. They come, they see, the conquer and right now they have their laser eyes set on them.

Captain Glory asks where the prince consort Wiccan is. On Skrullos, is the reply, since the Mindless Ones are hitting that world, too. Captain Glory asks if he has notified their allies and Earth. Hulkling explains that the Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting the source and he has notified Alpha Flight.

A soldier warns them that there is portal activity. Mindless Ones are incoming and in addition they are now being attacked by their spaceship.

Captain Glory asks if Alpha Flight has replied. Not yet, he is told. As he flies toward the giant Mindless One, he suggests they call someone else.

The terraformed planet Mars, now Arakko:
Its new viceroy, Storm, has invited Dr. Doom to a dinner for two. He commends the breathtaking surroundings. Storm retorts they worked hard to create the view. She asks how the bouillabaisse is. He informs her he refuses to open his mouth grille for any dish less than magnificent. This is… superlative. Would it be rude of him to kidnap her chef? An act of war, she warns him, but an understandable one. And less rude than turning your dinner guest into a chrome statue.

Doom dimly recalls that unfortunate business with Arcade, how long ago? He sent a robot in his place, if he remembers. Clearly, the machine was suffering from some grotesque internal fault to so cavalierly break the sacred bond of hospitality. The true Doom would never disrespect a goddess, he assures her, as he raises his glass. She chides him not to flirt. It is unbecoming. He apologizes and remarks that it is refreshing to see her in a role that befits her capabilities. To see her as a true queen as opposed to… well, a king’s wife.

Does he really want to discuss their respective marriages? she shoots back with a slight smirk. So soon? He glares and announces he tires of small talk. They should speak of more serious matters. Perhaps serious enough to end worlds. They should speak of mysterium and what it has wrought.

On Throneworld, Emperor Hulkling and his warriors have taken on the Mindless Ones. He asks if there is any word from Billy and is told by an Accuser that Wiccan and the Knights of the Infinite are holding the line on Skrullos with minimal casualties. He asks for a status report from the southern front and is told that Mindless Ones keep trying to destroy their army.

In the air, a Mindless One teleports in to attack Captain Glory. Another One teleports in behind the Kree and they fire at Glory simultaneously, injuring him mortally and sacrificing themselves in the process. Captain Glory falls as he assures Hulkling it is the way he wants to go. More Mindless Ones rush in and destroy the translocutor. Hulkling orders his soldiers to hold the line.

On Arakko, Doom continues “doomsplaining” magic over dessert, stating the magic of this universe is powerful, but only so powerful. The forces beyond this universe are less limited. Which brings them to mysterium – the mutant miracle metal. Did she know it resonates with magic? It may even be proof against it. That’s not information they have given away, Storm observes. As if they had to, he scoffs. He is a doctor of the fivefold art. From childhood, he forged himself in the secret fire. He has his mother’s eyes.

And what exactly is it he thinks he sees with them? Storm inquires politely. Many things! Doom boasts. Mysterium is not from their reality. They condense it from primal kirbons, cosmic particles that exist both outside their cosmos and at the heart of it, for they have always been the same place. The Above-place. The White Hot Room. The Mystery.

And is it a problem for him? she asks. That they were first? They have stolen fire from heaven to hold in their hands, he replies. How could he object. He has done the same himself - with one significant difference – he wore gloves. He warns them to be careful. They are dabblers. And at this scale the unintended consequences of dabbling can be severe. The wrong symbol or metaphor can destroy you. They have turned the gold the alchemists sought into common coin… shackled the sublime to the material world, and thus they have altered the balance of the world. Subtly, but enough to create a moment of opportunity for one who knows how to seize it. Something is coming, he warns her. Perhaps it is already here.

That moment, Storm is telepathically contacted by Commander Brand via Mentallo. She informs Storm that the Kree-Skrull Alliance is under attack by Mindless Ones, and they are not alone. Star-Lord reported an attack on Spartax and they are getting some weird traffic from the Shi’ar. Sol hasn’t been hit yet, but they shouldn’t wait until it is. She is taking a team to Hala to assess the threat and report back but, if this spirals, Storm may want to address the Great Ring.

Brand’s team walks through Manifold’s gate.

Doom asks Storm if she is now learning what Doom already knows. She clearly needs the knowledge, so he offers it gladly. Noblesse oblige. And after he has taught them, saved them from themselves, they will discuss how Arakko repays its debts.

Storm gets up. Since they are discussing metaphors, she announces and throws a lightning bolt on the table between them. Playing by your opponents’ rule can create a good impression, she states. Refusing to play their games at all creates a better one. Dinner is over. Brandy and cigars will not be served. She looks down on him from the air. And while she thanks him for his generous offer teaching them how to crawl… it comes late. They are already flying. Do they have more to learn? Of course, for they have always been a school. But why would they need him to teach them?

He turns around and struggles to keep calm, then announces so be it. He at least acted with decorum. Doom has no regrets. He hopes when tomorrow comes that she can say the same.

On Throneworld, Hulkling stands surrounded by the bodies of his soldiers. He apologizes for letting them down. He mumbles that grandmother was right. About his friends… enemies… Alpha Flight… He should have listened…

Brand and her people appear and she agrees. She warned him at his wedding party: Alpha Flight doesn’t work. That’s why she built something better. Let’s go! she orders her team.

Manifold orders Hulkling to stand. He can open a portal beneath him – get him right into medbay. Hulkling refuses. There are still people fighting. Paibok gently suggests he may have to, if he can’t shapeshift due to injuries. Brand adds they have healers at the PEAK who can fix that damage in minutes. Then he will be back in the fight with a handpicked SWORD team at his back. Her gift to him. She wants to breaks some of the ice between Krakoa and the Alliance.

Right… the Wanda thing, he recalls. Calling her “Pretender.” He hates that. Billy does too. Weird, though, they tried contacting her with magic but it was as if she wasn’t there… He guesses Dormammu was locking them. That was probably it, Brand agrees, lying through her teeth.

Frenzy shouts a warning. They have company! As they get attacked Brand orders for Hulkling to be evacuated first. They will follow. And she wants no arguments from Khora!

Hulkling groans he still can’t believe the Avengers didn’t come. They called Alpha Flight… and nothing. While teleporting him, Manifold suggests next time calling the Avengers directly. Henry Gyrich is in charge of Alpha. He probably wrote them off as an acceptable loss. Brand agrees as she fires her big guns at the attackers. In a crisis, people show you who they truly are!

Characters Involved: 

Storm (viceroy of Arakko)
Commander Brand
Frenzy, Khora of the Burning Heart, Manifold (SWORD)

Emperor Hulkling, Captain Glory, Corporal Enn-Lar, Accuser Lauri-El, Paibok (Kree-Skrull Empire)

Dr. Doom

Mindless Ones

Story Notes: 

Text pages:

Rand’s personal notes revealing that she intercepted Hulkling’s message to Alpha Flight

Further notes:
The issue is part of the “Last Annihilation” crossover.

Dr. Doom turned Storm into a chrome statue in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #147. As Fantastic Four writer John Byrne was unhappy with the way Dr. Doom was depicted in that story, he revealed in Fantastic Four that it had really been a Doombot.

Respective marriages: Storm was married to the Black Panther until he annulled their marriage in the AvX crossover. Dr. Doom was set to marry Lady Victorious in Fantastic Four (6th series) #32, until she publicly revealed she had cheated on him with Johnny Storm…

At the time of that story, the Scarlet Witch is dead (she gets better though), as told in the X-Men: Trial of Magneto limited series.

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