S.W.O.R.D. #5

Review by: alexb

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Avg Rating: 4.2
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WRITER: Kieron Gillen
PENCILS: Steven Sanders
COLORED BY: Joe Staton
LETTERED BY: Allen Passalaqua

Size: pages
Price: 2.99

I feel pretty bad for Kieron Gillen right now. Having read an recent interview in which he explains why we probably won’t be getting another Phonogram, I opened up the final issue of this refreshingly playful series with a certain degree of bitterness. Gillen crafts a fantastic little romp with just the right level of humour and wit and a knowing wink to the absurdity inherent in the types of scenarios big spectacle books throw at us on a regular basis. Brand and Beast’s double act perfectly compliments each character, with Brand’s earnestness nicely tempered by Beast’s unfailing optimism and charm. Add in an irascible Lockheed, a wonderfully amoral Death’s Head (possibly my favourite character in the book), a genuinely creepy antagonist and an alien horde that seems more preoccupied with post-success “violent rutting” than the actual business of conquering, and you get a book that pops with razor-sharp dialogue in a way a Marvel book hasn’t really done since NEXTwave.

Likewise Steven Sanders’ art really comes into its own in this issue, perfectly complementing the breathtaking pace of the narrative with some great, epic bits of business such as the two-page splash page depicting our rallying heroes. I think he’s gotten a lot of unfair criticism, particularly for his rendition of Beast, but frankly I think it’s a good example of an artist being smart enough to ignore what may technically be right for what actually WORKS. Then again, I’ve always been fond of Grant Morrison’s lion Beast, so what do I know.

To say this is a fitting end to the series would be doing it an injustice as it’s survival would have provided a refreshing change of pace to the horde of Marvel books that so often feel like they come out of a factory floor these days. And this is coming from someone who reads and enjoys a great many Marvel books, including Fraction’s Iron Man, Brubaker’s Daredevil and Bendis’s, well, everything. But when a market can seemingly sustain a myriad and growing number of Deadpool books and an impending deluge of Avengers titles, the fact that this book was smothered in its crib so ruthlessly feels pretty galling.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 4 - Very Good

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