Robot 6

Gillen confirms ax has fallen on Marvel’s S.W.O.R.D. series

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

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

Writer Kieron Gillen confirmed this morning that Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men spin-off S.W.O.R.D. will end in March with Issue 5.

Rumors of the title’s cancellation began circulating last week, sparking a last-minute Valentines-themed campaign to save the low-selling S.W.O.R.D. However, the comic’s absence from Diamond’s April order form — available online over the weekend, but now removed — makes it clear the effort came far too late.

“While cynics have noted, it’s unlikely this sort of activity will magically get S.W.O.R.D.’s run extended,” Gillen wrote on his blog. “But it’s not just about that. Letting a publisher know they released a book which people liked and had an audience is always worthwhile. As others have noted, if you dug it, it’s worth being grateful for five issues.”

S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), an agency that deals with extraterrestrial threats, was introduced in 2005 in Astonishing X-Men #3, and played a prominent role in Secret Invasion. The monthly series, by Gillen and artist Steven Sanders debuted in November 2009 to estimated sales of 22,000. By the second issue, the figure had dropped to barely 15,000.

“Comics operate on a system of pre-ordering,” Gillen wrote. “As in, the first issue’s orders were in before anyone had even read a single page of the book. The numbers which people are reporting are low enough that the inevitable second issue dip — also ordered before anyone had read Issue 1 — would move it into a clearly dangerously low sales for a book in the X-family. In other words, I actually don’t feel that bad about the cancellation. It was already on unsteady ground before anyone had even read the thing, and got annoyed over Sanders’ Beast design or my over-verbal theatrics.”

Word of S.W.O.R.D.‘s cancellation comes just weeks after Marvel announced it would end the newly launched Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural after just five issues.



Hell, no!

What a shame. I have fallen in love with SWORD. IT was different and yet familiar. I really thought it begin solicited with the X-books would give it enough of a launch to last a year. 5 issues is not enough for any “ongoing”. Hopefully the trade sales will warrant a mini in the future.

Well at least Kieron has a good attitude about it. It is unfortunate that it did not get longer to gain readers.


I was excited to pick this up, but was waiting for the trades.

I give Marvel credit for at least giving these these C/D level charactes a chance, but I’m curious why they don’t go the mini series route at first. You do 4-5 issues, if its a success, do another. If its a major hit, launch an ongoing.
If the mini tanks, then when the last issue comes out and its goes away. Then there’s no talk of cancellation, no one is up in arms, etc.
I don’t know, does an ongoing sound more attractive than a mini? Are you more likely to draw people in if they think its going to last longer?
I never thought Dr Voodoo had a chance, but I’m surprised about SWORD since its X-related. I figured it could hang in for at least a year.

That’s all kinds of suck. SWORD was the one new title that Marvel had out that I was really excited for – and it turned out to be a fun, fun series. And Doctor Voodoo…it started off strong, I think, but then it felt like it faltered.

mike —

It has become the norm that many mini-series are ordered at extremely low levels right from the start. Sales are most times higher when a series is solicited as an ongoing. You can always cancel an ongoing if sales are too low, but it is difficult to change a mini-series into an ongoing.

art was meh, story was just this short of being REALLY awesome.

I liked this book too…

Totally sucks. SWORD was such a fun, refreshing book, and it finally made Beast funny and charismatic again. But at least the issues we’ve gotten were fun, and I’m sure the couple remaining will be as well. Meanwhile, Gillen’s still rocking on Thor and his writing has been good enough across the board that I’ll be keeping a keen eye on his future comics.

I’m really sad to see it go, it was one of the best titles Marvel was putting out and but yet we are left with crap like New Avengers, Hulk and such. Marvel didn’t even try to put this book out there, they just focus on there titles that are doing well insted of helping out the little titles that do get great reviews. F U Marvel.

Mike to be honest, if this was a mini I would never have gotten. I avoid all minis now, thanks to the 3.99 price that comes with them. As an ongoing I got excited and invested. I just wish Marvel went back to the one year and done if sales suck. But when I saw the sales for issue one I really didn’t expect to see anything past issue 6.

I really dug this series. Huge bummer.

Surely noone is too surprised that this or Doctor Voodoo got cancelled? The surprise would have been if they somehow found a sustaining audience in the face of dozens of event tie in books at both DC and Marvel and the on-going economic downturn.

The market is over-saturated . The only good thing is, we get all kinds of comics. The bad thing is some of them do not last very long.

Franchise is king, much like movies and books, and to some extant TV.

Cosmic Marvel has a mini franchise, SWORD was all alone :(

Now we need a mini Marvel Horror franchise to sustain a couple of books.

This is crappy news, and a fair few of us have been making a fair degree of noise about it, rave reviews constantly, but it just didn’t pick up. I just find it hard to believe that anyone who got issue one didn’t want issue two, how could it drop thousands of readers? Guess they really didn’t like how Beast looked, shame, because it is really well written, and Sanders draws the hell out of some aliens.


I bought the first issue and while It did not blow me away but I enjoyed it. The odd thing is now that it is being canceled, I’m more interested in it. I wish they would give it more time.

Why cant they just come back, redo the beast design and start over. I bet if beast was just rendered in a way that wasnt so jarring the book would pick up sales. I loved the book but that really bugged the shit out of me to the point where every time i saw him i just tried to focus on the word balloon. Other than that the writing and the art are top notch and i think the book deserves a second chance. I really believed if they re did beast it would make a huuuuuuuuuuge difference.

You’re an idiot if you think Beast’s snout was the reason for the low-sales. Most comic readers are ****ng idiots and having Beast with a cat nose wouldn’t have gotten the hoi polloi to give a rat’s ass about a well-written book.

Sucks that this is getting canceled, since I really enjoy Gillen’s work, but I can see why. I picked up the first issue thinking it was going to be some “super spy in space” kinda thing, but it turned out to be a goofy, fantasy-looking spotlight on Brand and Beast (two characters I love, by the way). Release it with a new artist, and turn up the serious notch a bit, and I think Marvel will have a winner.

Now put Gillen on an ARES ongoing!

It is a mix of the comic companies and the fans. There is an over-saturation of books (especially super-hero type books). There are also the fans which only get the few comics each month. For me, it comes down to 2 things, Space and money, plain and simple. The space to store all these great comics and the EXTRA money each month buying them. When I first was big into comics, each issue was about $1.25. Now each issue is between $3-4. If I am still spending the same amount of money a month, the number of titles I get reduces drastically. There is also space issues. I don’t have a basement or an extra closet to keep boxes and boxes of comics.


beasts snout is not the reason its getting canceled. People not buying the book is the reason the ax fell. I didnt like the design, but I looked past that and felt good that the book was something special. After awhile i’m sure i would have grown to like it. Much like cassadays and quitelys renditions grew on me when i initially hated it.

Beast is a character thats been around so long he should be recognized instantly. Him just being blue wont work for comic buyers who have grown accustomed with him looking a certain way. Especially when you see him on the cover and say, “cool theres beast”, and then when you open the book its like….wait a minute….if thats beast who is that in the front?”

Not every reader is supercool, trendy,artsy, hipster, I appreciate all aspects of the medium in all its forms. The people that pay the bills for these books to continue unfortunately, god i wish it was different, want “DOCTOR STRANGE” and the beast to look like how beast has been looking for five years.

Hopefully both series will get started up again.

::Shakes head:: One of the best new books out there and it gets canceled after same of number of issues as they abomination known as Doctor Voodoo? Very sad. What the heck has happen to the buisness? To many crossovers, to much blackest night, to much cost? Combo of all or none?

Gutted… Dr Voodoo was mumbo jumbo rubbish but this was really strong start… I wish they would allow a fan base to build before cancelling them… This added a new dimension to the universe.

I liked both this and Doctor Voodoo, but am not shocked that either was cancelled. I just hope Gillen finds another niche at Marvel. I wouldn’t mind an Ares ongoing, as that mini rocked.

Very very sorry, I loved SWORD. Hope they give gillen a real ongoing this time. Maybe a mutant one since thor has already been taken.

Ack! This is disheartening.

I hope Gillen and Sanders can continue their story through digital means or in a shorter, second feature format.

It seems the biggest complaint people had with this book in the first place was the art, which absolutely makes NO sense. It doesn’t look that different from any other major book. The only thing people don’t like is the way Sanders draws Beast, which is fucking stupid. Like, do you REALLY care that much about a fictional character that if someone draws him differently that you’re gonna cry about it?

Obviously, if they wanted it to sell, they should have featured Death’s Head (the original, accept no substitute, yes?) much more prominently on the first 2 issues covers ;-)

Sad (but honestly not terribly surprised) that it’s ending. If Agents of Atlas with all it’s accolades can’t find an audience, it was going to be an uphill battle for SWORD.

…and my pull list dwindles to 9…

Funny thing is, if there weren’t so many $3.99 books eating up my total budget I can possibly allow for buying comics, this and Doctor Voodoo are EXACTLY the type of books I would take a chance on with the extra scratch.

Hoping they put out a trade of this. Sounded like something I’ld like.

WTF!!! We don’t get to see the end of Dara Brighton’s quest for revenge, LAME!! jk

News like this (and that of Dr Voodoo) leads me to think we might not ever see that relaunch of Agents of Atlas that was previously announced. I just can’t see how a book like that could possibly be successful if Marvel’s going to pull the plug on two ongoing titles after only 5 issues.

I mean, five?? How the heck do they expect a book to find a decent audience or build its readership if it’s not given a chance?

I don’t like how Marvel seems to work with new series…We have had SWORD, AoA, Exiles, Doctor Voodoo, and CB: MI13 canceled before they even got to their 20’s…..Not just that, 3 of them only lasted until issue 5 or so…

DC atleast gives books a chance…..Shadowpact, The Atom, Blue Beetle, and Manhunter all got shots, and went into at least 20 issues each…DC seems to be a bit more forgiving…

Also, let’s not forget how Marvel pushed Fantastic Force as a new ongoing, then changed it inot a mini series…

Shame, I truly missed the original Transformers U.K. Death’s Head. I was buying SWORD just for his awesomeness. I just hope that another writer can find a place for him.

Are you ****ing kidding me? Five issues? If it were twelve or so I could understand, but they didn’t even wait for enough to fill a trade to release. What kind of idiotic strategy is that in this day and age?

Also, I don’t entirely buy the “four dollar comics” excuse. If four dollar books are the problem for some people, then why do they buy them instead of others? Most of Marvels four dollar books have the name “Avengers” on them and are leading and tying into another event and is there any damn chance in hell that they wouldn’t get a premiere trade release?

I don’t understand peoples priorities.

There are two problmes here.

The price of books in genral mean that people buy the books ties into to the constant events needed to understand what is going on in the MU as a whole.

The good artsists are always put on books that the Marvel higher ups like and want you to like to. Take Secret Warriors for example. It could have been another victim of early cancellation but it got good artsists form the outset and a big old marketing push.

SWORD from what ive read had an arstist that most poeple dubbed too cartoony. To be honest from that in my eyes wouldnt fit with the tone of the book and is more what you would expect from an all ages book.

Also with the way new books come and go these days I find myself waiting in the trades to make sure these books last. So if Marvel isnt going to invest time into these projects why should I. Better they just launch yet another Deapool book which will sell okay and put the more discerning reader of buying Marvel comis at all like myself who has gone from 30 books a month to 3.

Laurence J Sinclair

January 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

What? Death’s Head was in it? Why did nobody tell me! I’d certainly have gotten this series!

The real shame is that with such low sales on a title from newer creators, this is unlikely to be traded. Tradewaiting is never a sure thing.

Fred/Bin-Laden –

Got any more sockpuppets to bring into use?

Gillen quote:

“”Comics operate on a system of pre-ordering,” Gillen wrote. “As in, the first issue’s orders were in before anyone had even read a single page of the book. The numbers which people are reporting are low enough that the inevitable second issue dip — also ordered before anyone had read Issue 1…”

Yes, orders for #2 were in before #1 came out, but with Final Order Cutoff, retailers are able to adjust up or down the numbers they order. Had they sold out of #1, they could have raised the numbers for #2.

I think it’s important to note that retailers DO respond to actual sales numbers.

And this is not an argument for or against the quality of the book. I didn’t read it.

Maybe if we all start mailing Marvel destroyed copies of our favorite D.C. books they’ll bring it back. Maybe one issue for every five thousand books mailed in. I think it would be worth it…

never should have started it in the first place, if the writers want to do something interesting with Beast then they should let challenge Scott in front of all the X-Men about what eh is doing where he is leading them and who he is listing to he has gone along with him long enough if you belive your leader is making bad desions based on bad advice its your duty to confront him in front of all concerned

……… My Sadness cannot be Expressed in words………………………… First Exiles, and now this. Why does everything I Love die?

It was nice having the Original Death’s Head for a while. I really hope to see more of him in the near VERY NEAR future! Come on, Marvel! Stop with all the X-this and X-that and give us a Death’s Head miniseries!

Tough times. Recently new books hardly manage to find a stable audience and get canned quickly. Soon we will be left with Avengers, Spiderman and X-Men books only…

Already? What are we at? Issue 3?!

Crud. I like the whole deal: writing, art, Death’s Head…hmmf.

So much potential conceptually, but it is/was an absolutely HORRIBLE book.

It needed better art and the dialog to not be so goofy. Brand was great because she was darkly humorous. The first two issues felt like a Disney comic.

What a bummer. S.W.O.R.D. was shaping up to be a really enjoyable series. Both the art and the writing were fun and refreshing. I liked the tone that the team established over the first three issues. Too bad it didn’t have more time to find a bigger audience.

There goes one of the few Marvel titles I’d buy. Oh well, guess it wasn’t meant to be. : /

Their “cancellation” shocked me because my first thought was, “These are ongoing series?”

Perhaps Alan Coil who commented above is right in assuming these titles were solicited as ongoing to get greater sales at the outset, because their characters, content, and established fan base had limited series written all over them. It would have been poor judgment on Marvel’s part to think these titles could have been sustained on an ongoing basis, especially in this current market of never-ending ‘event’ comics swirling around saying “I’m more important than them! Buy me instead!”

Cancellation never looks good for the company, characters, and creators involved, and can associates either with low quality, even if low quality has nothing to do with the cancellation. If there is a follow up series of either title, people might fear it’s not worth the money to try or (in the case of an ongoing) invest one-self in a title that might quickly be canceled again.

I didn’t even know that this was out yet (or that it and Vodoo weren’t just minis).

Way to go, Marvel marketing!

All kidding aside, the concept sounded cool enough that i was thinking about giving the trade a look. Hopefully there will still be one.

This really sucks! And with Dr Voodoo canceled as well… They were both going places! Oh well it just lets me free up more cash for DC comics as they are really doing great things at the moment!

oh this is just too funn. Marvel should drop more titles maybe downsize the titles by 50 percent because Marvel is 100 percent Crap


I hope the end of Marvel Comics is near

Let’s all pray that by the end of 2010 Marvel is finally FINALLY GONE

don’t get me wrong I hope absolutely NO love fer DC as well. But in all likelyhood if Marvel croaks DC follows just because they are such good copycats

So, the lesson here is don’t f*#@ with the Grant Morrison version of Beast. That is the only thing that is wrong with this series. The Beast looks like a blue Pink Panther. Other than that, this book is stellar! I hope that Kieron Gillen gets another chance and that Steven Sanders is told to F%$# off. That is the worst Beast I have ever seen and I am sorry that I had to lay eyes upon those pages. Nonetheless, I think this is a great story and hope that it concludes well and that Gillen is given another chance.

Make Mine Marvel!


What a shame.

But typical of Marvel given how they’re only interested in promoting their usual uninteresting crap — take a look at all their recent promos on Siege and the upcoming X-Men crossover.

The day that Marvel can devote any of their resources to books with character stories and interesting situations and genuine creator love, I’m there.

S.W.O.R.D., Runaways, Hercules — I salute you.


S.W.O.R.D. had great art, Steve Sanders was fresh change from the usual Marvel look. Did your eyes ever actually grace the book itself? Since when did ‘cartoony’ mean ‘all ages’?

It’s assumptions like this that prevents books from taking off in the first place.

i bought the first issue (Lockheed, with Gillen writing? heck yeah, i’ll read it!), but couldn’t get past the art. just not to my taste.

I love everything about this book except for the fact that it’s ending. I don’t understand why anyone would complain about the way Beast looks here; it’s so much more distinctive than his usual design, I wish all the X-Men artists would start drawing him like this! And you’re going to criticize a book for having humor, rather than being dark and depressing all the time? Honestly!

What’s up with the “art and dialogue need to be more serious” or “the art is too cartoony and the dialogue is too goofy” comments? I mean, the HUGE majority of Marvel/DC comics are drawn/written “serious”. So, why does every book have to have the same generic house style to be considered adult?

I just don’t get people who have these opinions…

whats wrong with the people who put down series like the hulk and new avengers and siege. they are very good series and putting them down because your mad they cancelled sword is crazy. i read most of the comics that marvel and dc put out and while sword was a decent series its not as good as the mainstream titles. i mean, come on.

to mike hayden who hopes the end of marvel is near.. are you as dumb as you sound? ,you cant be. not only is marvel not even close to ending its popularity will grow and grow and GROWWWWWWWWWWW. marvel comics put out the best and DC also puts out very fine titles. so mike hayden if you dont like marvel there is something reallllllllllly wrong with you.

What a shame. You’d think with the loads of sales from their X-that and Avenger-this comics, they’d keep a low seller around a little longer. Have to give kudos to DC here, at least they give a book some time (mostly) for a book to catch on. Simon Dark, Blue Beetle, Manhunter, Firestorm, were all mid to low sellers but the majority made it to or past 20 issues before cancellation.

The ridiculous depiction of Beast was a turn off but what really killed the series for me was Gyrich. The second I saw his name in the solicit I knew exactly what the story would be and how it would pay out. Evil, incompetent bureaucrat screws things up while our heroes are impotent to stop him until everything is almost destroyed.

Considering we just saw the same damn thing from the same damn character in the Initiative, I’m not that surprised the series tanked. If they weren’t going to go beyond the evil/incompetent government guy cliche they could have at least made up a new guy to carry out the lazy, cliched plot.


Not sure who your comment was directed at, but in case it was at me…

I don’t put down bigger mainstream titles. In fact, I read and like some of the bigger titles. But I can also appreciate someone’s art even if it is different than the mainstream “hose” style of DC or Marvel. My problem lies with readers who can’t appreciate a range of comic art or writing. These comments that say “the art is too cartoony!”, in my opinion, are ridiculous. I thought the art fit the tone of the story and if the art was your typical superhero style it would have done a great disservice to the writing.

I’d hate to imagine comics if they were all drawn and written in the same style.

er, I meant “house”, not hose! :P

Give Gillen more high profile work, please. Really dug the Ares mini. Gonna try and read Phonogram one of these days too.

You wanna know why sales of issue 2 really sucked? Because Marvel really screwed up the orders for it and there’s at least 2 full states that I know of that never got their full order of the book. So there’s the possibility that a quarter of the US never got their full order.

Well this was to be expected. I mean without Deadpool, Iron-Man or Wolverine it has to fail right?

Seriously cancelled with issue #5.

I guess Spider-Woman and Moon Knight are next.

IMO this sets a dangerous precedent.

If books aren’t woven into a current or upcoming event I guess they just wont happen anymore. And if you launch a title with aims towards a future tie-in to an event that gets overhauled or scrapped it is over as well.

They are making it hard to enjoy this stuff.

January 19, 2010 at 1:54 am

-“Beast” I would ever so love for you to eat your foul and distempered words and chase it down with tea wine. That kind of negativity directed at Sanders is totally UNCALLED for!

I’m with Agent_Torpur, Marvel fans are idiots, and good books get cancel because Marvel is too busy wanking itself into oblivion with events. Which, now it appears that “events” are the norm and the in between issues are filler.

Kieron and Steven made a hell of an impression on me. Besides Warren Ellis’ Astonishing X-Men, SWORD is the only Marvel title I buy. It’s like getting shot in the crotch, hurts like the dickens and is just wrong.

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