Kieron Gillen, Steve Sanders & Jamie McKelvie
S.W.O.R.D. is a fun comic with a great premise. Spun out of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's excellent run on Astonishing X-Men, Agent Brand is running the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, the government's answer to threats from outer space, a compliment to their S.H.I.E.L.D. division. In this book, Agent Brand is actually co-commander as, under Norman Osborn's Dark Reign, he has assigned the villainous Henry Gyrich to keep an eye on Brand, something he does in the form of stabbing her in the back by presenting to a committee his own idea to keep alien threats from Earth: namely getting rid of all aliens on the planet, good or otherwise, to eradicate any potential threat. Meanwhile Brand has a busy day juggling galactic threats while X-Men Beast and Lockheed, and the alien Sydren, aide her in her tasks, which are entertaining, funny and action-packed. Gillen sets up a great dynamic here between the characters and I was wholly impressed by the end result. The situations he comes up with are riveting, and the premise and station he's set up are top-notch. The art by Sanders is decent. I feel like it's a little inconsistent at times, and Beast looks a little odd, but overall he does a competent job with some really down-right pretty scenes, and he can draw the hell out of Death's Head, a bounty hunter after Agent Brand's troublesome brother. I like the tip of the hat to Kitty in this issue, as Lockheed is an integral part of the team, and Kitty was very involved with the Astonishing X-Men climax that took place off-world that was a serious threat to Earth. In fact, the short story after the main Sanders-drawn story was all about Lockheed and what S.W.O.R.D. has done to attempt a retrieval of Ms. Pryde. The bonus story was drawn by Jamie McKelvie (Suburban Glamour) and sported some pretty fantastic art that made me sort of wish he were the regular artist, but I can certainly get by on Sanders' output. So far, this is a thrilling adventure comic and I'm definitely onboard after this strong debut issue for what seems will be a pretty amazing book.