S.W.O.R.D. 1 Out For Nearly A Week

Well, that went pretty well.

The responses were mostly the array I was expecting. A lot of people seemed surprised by the tone, as they were expecting – to steal a line from a commenter – something more Warren Ellis and less Joss Whedon. But yeah – there was a reason “His Girl Friday” was at the top of the list of influences. I think I finally got my interview-style for S.W.O.R.D. nailed down in the new one I did for Newsarama, which sort of gives the best taste of the bally thing.

And the positive reviews were – generally speaking – enormously positive. To take a selection of the less spoilery ones…

Newsarama: “It really is a cut above the rest”
Chris ISB: “I think S.W.O.R.D. is great.”
Comics Daily: “SWORD trumps both Batman & Robin and the writer’s own Phonogram to deliver this week’s essential purchase.”
Paul O’Brien, House To Astonish: “The dialogue is great.”
Greg Comics Should Be Good: “I certainly hope that it smashes sales records and Gillen gets to write it for the next decade”
The Pull List: Pull Of The Week.
Dave Ferraro:“I’m definitely onboard after this strong debut issue for what seems will be a pretty amazing book.”
Fantastic Fangirls: “I highly recommend checking out SWORD #1.”
Panels on Pages: “I’m going to stick with the book for the foreseeable future, as I really enjoyed the first issue “
Funnybook of the Week: Funnybook of the week.
Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International: “S.W.O.R.D. begins very well indeed — fast, witty, silly, big sci-fi stuff with the characteristic scattershot dialogue of the Ellis, Whedon school of superhero sci-fi writing.”

Also, there’s been quite a few podcasts talking about it. Awesomed By Comics! 11 o’Clock Comics! Monkey On My Back! And a tiny splash in the ever-splendid Ifanboy.

Crikey. That’s enough linking. My Cut and paste skills are fading.

What’s people’s problems with it. Putting aside the people who just don’t like tone – c’est la vie – the thing which is popping up a lot is Steve’s art style generally and his Beast design specifically. Well, I’ll give you that it’s a radical take on Quitely’s design. But, in case you’ve forgotten – and when as determined a Morrison fan as Tim Callahan has forgotten, it’s probably worth reminding people – Quitely’s beast looked like this…

The guy had a snout. Most artist are minimising the snout, or even removing it entirely. Sanders is a little unfortunate that he maximised the snout when most other people went the other way, but it’s not nearly as radical a diversion as people are presuming. It is a little unfortunate that Mr Cassady’s take on the cover is at one extreme of the interpretations and Steve’s is at the other. And Beast has… well, as some has noted, has always wandered a little. Going through issue 3’s pencils right now, I think it the design will only grow ever more convincing. This is hyperstrong stuff.

Alternatively, as a lovely gent on the CBR forum put it…

Which does make me smile.

What else? Well, wrapping SWORD 4’s script up this week. Gets stronger ever issue, I think, unless I blow this one near the end. At least 3 is splendid. PG2.5 is out this week – in fact, was gettable last week if your local shop felt like doing it, as Rich Johnson reports with some hilarity . And my fourth Thor issue’s solicit and cover is live.

Oh – and issue 4 of SWORD’s one too…

Which is also splendid. I’m big on the word “splendid” today.

Oh – as a final note, when going to CBR I find an interview with Jamacia Dyer’s Weird Fishes. I’ve loved her work when she was back in her Kitchen Sink days. I’d somehow fell out of following her, but I’m very excited to see that she’s got a book out – WEIRD FISHES from Slave Labor, which is a collection of her webcomic. Which begs the question why I wasn’t reading it. I don’t know. I must have been insanely busy for the last five years. I’ll make up with extravagant compliments now.

This is insanely beautiful insane stuff. Go read!

Blimey, thanks for the mention, sir…

There was NO WAY I wasn’t going to mention SWORD #1 in the MOMBcast, by the way… it’s just a lovely romp of a comic, reminiscent of Claremont’s best whimsical stuff before he got so enamoured of his own voice that everything went pear-shaped.

Though it’s fun from the beginning, that scene when Beast is telling Brand to relax and enjoy herself makes the whole thing unfold like a lovely story-flower… does that conversation serve as a blueprint for one of the main themes in the book?

That’d be telling, of course. It certainly says a lot about Brand and Beast.


I’ve given up on the idea of Beast having a “design” now until someone goes the whole hog and gets rid of cat-Beast – you didn’t post the link to whatever it was (clearly, your pasting skills WERE fading, since you hit v instead of ctrl-v :p), but no two artists draw him anything alike.

More depressing to me on the art side to me was Death’s Head. Come on, the guy has one of the most distinctive, expressive head designs EVER, and the artist here set out to minimise all the features that make his head so very distinctive…

Hey, thanks for the link to the blog. I’m going to be reviewing it when I get round to putting my thoughts on last week’s books up. We’re also likely to be covering it on the HtA podcast on Saturday (we had thought about doing Ares last time round, but with SWORD coming out we thought it was better to wait for that instead).

@Mammalian Verisimilitude:

While I do agree that Death’s Head does have a very distinct physical style I honestly do not think that Steve Sanders’ redesign of the character is anywhere near as radical a departure as a couple of guys online have been posting.

I’m a huge Death’s Head fan (In both of his incarnations). I’ll follow anything Death’s Head related (Heck, I even run a Marvel UK fan site) but I see this re-design, and the way in which DH is written, as being perfectly faithful to the character.

I’m a pretty picky fan too (Don’t get me started on Amazing Fantasy’s ‘Death’s Head 3.0′), and I see this a being a respectful and pleasing return from a character who has been away for far too long.

Cheers, Mr Gillen. Not just for that, but for actually making me pretty interested in Agent Brand. I wasn’t that much of a fan of her on Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. I couldn’t get a handle on her. But here I see plenty of interest.

I also approve of the Beast-snout. :)

The redesign of Death’s Head is what is needed to make the character a bit more workable in today’s market. Not so polished and un-battle torn — a bit more in keeping with his back ground. I am a fan of it (tusks aside) and it will grow on me. This is by far my favourite incarnation of him and I am bathing in excitement of his return. This look has to stay — but the character himself must remain around beyond issue 5, maybe a cover somewhere along the way please?
As for Mark’s comments about DH3, I think Simon Furman did well with his remit of the Character. Having spoken to him his intention to make this corp of DH’s a pre-curser to DH1 and act as his origin was a stroke of genius.
Iam also pleased that as DH1 was in his 2nd form when DH2 came about, we must assume this new guise signals his removal from Minion and he is his own robot again — thank god!

Good show, Kieron. Enjoyed the heck out of the first issue and expect more of the same.

Al: My pleasure. I did note that everything I’ve ever released has come out in the off-week for the podcast, so aware that there’s no chance of anyone ever hear you ramble about them.


Thanks for the link! I’m glad SWORD is getting the praise it deserves –

You should ring us up while at ThoBubs, get “The News From The Floor” for the podcast.

I mean, sure, most of my news would be “Scarlet Witch Just Bought my Dawg,” but I’m sure somebody might have something to say…

Steve-Beast’s generous beak reminds me of the dragon from BONE. Personally, I prefer Glam Rock Beast.


Ian, leaving aside your misguided comments on DH’s look (from the neck down he was never consistent anyway, and he could heal minor injuries on not-being-patched up. Spider-Man or Batman should be more readily covered in scars, but they ain’t usually depicted as such), it doesn’t entirely prove this is post-Minion:
* Firstly, this could be a future of the Furman/Senior “What If… Death’s Head Had Lived” version. (As a time-hopping, dimension-skipping mechanoid, that version’s just as valid a choice as DH2 to turn up in the MU).
* Secondly, this could be before he ever met the Transformers, since that was his 500-and-somethingth mission (in this case, he got his head fixed later…).
* Thirdly, it could be an alternate similar-but-different version we’ve never seen before who has a similar speech patttern but looks different (in this case, see “firstly” for reasoning).
* A fixed DH2 seems least likely, especially since it turned up as recently as the last issue of Captain Britain/MI13.

Oh, and DH1’s origin was in the DH: The Body in Question OGN by Furman himself, reprinted in one of Titan’s DH TPBs (the head was a… Family resemblence).

Re: DH. The appearance in CB was present day – assuming the DH in SWORD is not future and post DH2.
The issues with appearance are kind of nit picking and certainly not misguided,I don’t believe a what if version is the most obvious choice to be honest.
Well aware of DH’s origin but the 3.0 can still fit as I mentioned Simon Furman described his plan to me and all was well.
Anyway I don’t want to get in to a slanging match as Iam enjoying SWORD for what it is – a return of my favourite character, as an added bonus it’s not DH2 – thank god.

I’ve read Simon Furman’s comments on how he would have liked to have taken DH 3.0 full circle, making him the predecessor to the original Death’s Head. I believe he refers to that again in the introduction for one of the two Panini Death’s Head trades, from a couple of years ago. I have to say I was never very taken by that idea, as it overwrites the origins from Death’s Head: The Body in Question. Which I still feel does just fine as it is.

Of course there is another option.

What we’re seeing here could actually be the 616 version of Death’s Head, native and originating from the Marvel Universe itself.

Remember that the original Death’s Head does actually come from a different dimension.

But I think that by far the best way to view all this is to stop overanalyzing all this, and just get on with enjoying the story. I for one am enjoying it. I’m loving the cast as a whole, here. A well-written Death’s Head is just a bonus, for me.

HURRAH! I agree!
Interesting point though.

Just wanted to say that I really appreciated this first issue and I can’t wait to read the next ones! I have been a fan of Beast/Brand from the very first pages where they appeared together in Astonishing X-Men and I am delighted that they now share this wonderful new series.
I liked the light tone of the issue and the dialogue between the two main characters and I do believe that they make such a good couple mainly because of their apararent differences. Beast does bring out the best in Brand and makes her more human and more likeable. It is indeed Beauty and the Beast but with the roles switched.
I hope we will see a little bit more romance in the series, although this is not what agent Brand is like :)
Also hope that SWORD will last as a series and that it won’t disappear after the first issues.
Very well done again and keep up the good work!