X OF SWORDS – CHAPTER 1. A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies.
For the past year of stories in the new status quo of Marvel’s mutants, Krakoa has meant safety. It meant security. It meant home. In X of Swords: Creation that is all going to come to a terrible end.
This kick-off chapter to the gigantic X-Men crossover may lull readers into a false sense of security, but it immediately takes the mutants to a terrible place. And it all starts with •┤Ȧ├• trying to reclaim everything he’s lost. It comes to us from Tini Howard, Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller.
With mutantkind finally safe on Krakoa, •┤Ȧ├• launches his ambitious plan to reclaim his lost family by breaking through the mystical dimension of Otherworld. However, they’ve been trapped in a hell dimension of endless war for millenia, and they may not want to be rescued. It’s a mission that may claim the lives of several X-Men, and not even the Five may be able to save them. Meanwhile, Cyclops, Jean and Cable embark on a mission that could change the entire Marvel Universe…
This is an absolutely huge issue, clocking in at nearly 70 story pages, and for anyone who has been following the X-Men since HOX/POX last year, it’s worth every moment. Though it’s largely an Excalibur and X-Men story, there’s the promise that this will not only affect every single mutant, but it will also change the line forever. And it all hinges on •┤Ȧ├•.
Without a doubt this is the story of Apocalypse, and his hubris. The former villain has been scheming for a year’s worth of Howard’s stories, while Hickman has given him a massive boost in profile. The duo combine that here to show this monstrous mutant in a new light. Apocalypse was always about survival of the fittest, and what happens when he’s accomplished that goal?
Beyond that, we learn about the First Horsemen and their eternal war. The entire X-Men line has been dropping hints about these new threats to the universe, practically since the relaunch. Here, they are imposing, and JUST enigmatic enough that we’re not totally sure where the story is going to go. Adding Saturnyne, the queen of Otherworld, into the equation creates a total wildcard in the proceedings, but she is the catalyst of what’s clearly going to be the main thrust of the story. That’s not even getting into the subplot of the Summers family, and their last page discovery that completely flips the event’s title on its head.
But what about the art? Simply put, Larraz and Gracia are probably the best art team working in superhero comics today (I can only think of one other duo who may give them a run at that title). There was never any doubt that this team would create something stunning, and even then they exceeded expectations. Their depiction of the Horsemen and the legions of Amenth is grand and epic, giving the invading army a terrifying scope. And the issue continues to grow and escalate from there, up to the point that Saturnyne commits the X-Men and the Horsemen to an epic tournament for the fate of Krakoa, culminating in a stunning spread featuring Polaris and Death.
Really the only point this issue falls short a little is in the data pages. Some of them work (the page narrated by former Hellion Tarot is an absolute delight), while others are inscrutable. Overall though, this is a fantastic start to the event and it is only going to lead to big things for the line as a whole.
X of Swords: Creation is available now from Marvel Comics.