Gillen confirms ax has fallen on Marvel's <i>S.W.O.R.D.</i> series

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.

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