With X of Swords on the downhill side, the X-Men are now face to face with their opponents. There are only precious hours until they draw their swords in defense of Krakoa and Earth. But first, a state dinner!
These two chapters are realistically the last two before the tourney starts in earnest. They’re both important world building, but one of much stronger than the other.
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Leinil Francis Yu, Sunny Gho
Letters by Clayton Cowles
As the rest of the Krakoans prepare for their state dinner, Apocalypse picks up where we left him at the end of Stasis. His great love, Genesis, is the leader of Arakko and Amenth, having taken up the golden helm of Amenth- Annihilation. The duo realize they still share their love, even if both had changed greatly.
However, even as that dance happens, the issue cuts away for the third time that we get the history of Arakko and Amenth. We once again learn that things are not as they appear and the history of Annihilation and Genesis’s bonding.
For three issues straight, we’ve gotten the history of Amenth and Arakko. Each time a little more information is revealed. But this time it simply feels like padding, especially because this issue actually reuses Yu’s art. It’s not bad, but its wearing thin quickly.
However, the highlight of the issue is by far the Apocalypse and Genesis pages by Hickman and Asrar. There’s an instant chemistry on the page between the two, and you want to know more. If the issue had spent more time with the duo and less on history, I think this would have been a real winner.
Written by Gerry Duggan & Benjamin Percy
Art by Stefano Caselli & Edgar Delgado
Letters by Cory Petit
After an X-Men issue that was a mild disappointment, this was an absolute delight.
The X-Men attend a state dinner to meet their opponents. Magik and Gorgon test their foes. Wolverine plots a dangerous gambit. And Storm literally dances with Death.
Duggan and Percy create an issue that’s nearly perfect. We learn more about all the characters involved- with Magik and Gorgon’s newfound friendship in particular being an absolute delight. It builds and builds over the issue as well. Pogg Ur-Pogg continues to make a great impression, Isca shows she’s a force to fear, and Wolverine may change the tournament entirely.
However, the greatest highlight is the flirtation between Storm and Death. The Anubis-like Horseman is still an enigma, but Storm takes his advances in stride. It’s a quickly built relationship that feels very real, but extremely dangerous. It culminates in a literal dance between the duo, which is perfectly illustrated by Caselli and Delgado. It’s written well, looks amazing, and adds layers to Ororo that she needs.
Even better, it’s some of the best writing Ororo has gotten in a long time. If it wasn’t for last month’s issue written by Vita Ayala, I would even say it was the best Storm story in at least a decade.
With the end of this issue hanging over everything, this story continues to be something very different than anyone expected. If we see a conclusion to the event that continues to subvert expectations though, I think it’s going to be a success. We’ll see next week.