While I love the book and am hoping for a comeback in the form of the occasional special or backup story in one of the X-books, I agree that S.W.O.R.D. faced an uphill battle in a tight market. Gillen notes that an X-book is expected to sell and sell well right out of the gate, and S.W.O.R.D.‘s sales numbers landed it firmly in the lower end of Marvel’s mid-list. Steven Sanders’ snout-endowed take on Hank McCoy provoked storms of fanboy derision from Marvel readers who weren’t willing to run with the redesign. An adventuring couple like Beast and Brand is, arguably, too much of a niche for a Big Two title (witness the repeated attempts to find a winning formula for Green Arrow and Black Canary over at DC, under Judd Winick and then Andrew Kreisberg).
Despite the bad news, Gillen encourages fans to continue to send notes of support to Marvel, on the theory that expressing your opinion of any title helps a publisher figure out what people want in the long run. S.W.O.R.D. is no longer being solicited past issue 5, so trying to preorder to boost the numbers is probably a lost cause– but it’s certainly not wasted effort to point out to Marvel that you liked a good rousing adventure romp.
I’m looking forward to more Agent Brand in Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., but all this ruckus just reminds me that I’ve got to pick up the Captain Britain and MI-13 trades. It seems that whenever I make mine Marvel, Marvel turns around and makes mine irrelevant to their larger strategy.