Marvel’s SWORD, the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, is the intelligence equivalent of SHIELD, dealing with the extraterrestrial threats of the Marvel Cosmic scene. Whereas SHIELD has been with the Marvel Universe since the Jack and Stan Silver Age, SWORD debuted in 2004’s Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. Since that time, SWORD, and most specifically the unit’s delightfully no-nonsense commander, Abigail Brand, have been an integrated, yet sporadic part of the Marvel Universe fabric, although most commonly tied to the pages of X-Men.
Despite the memorable debut, clear purpose, and compelling role in Marvel Cosmic, SWORD only has one solo five issue miniseries prior to the launch of Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti’s hotly anticipated entrance into the X-Men’s Dawn of X. There are good stories involving SWORD and Agent Brand – as a matter of fact I have a list of 10 essentials – but I’d also argue there’s a definite sense of untapped potential.