X-Men: Everything We Know About The X OF SWORDS Crossover
Marvel has just revealed the truth about X of Swords, the upcoming X-Men comic event that will throw all of Krakoa up against a monstrous invasion.
Here's everything we know so far about X of Swords, this year's upcoming crossover. Marvel's X-Men relaunch has been a phenomenal success, and with a new status quo established, the comics are now building up to this year's X-Men event. X of Swords is now confirmed to launch in September, somewhat delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns.
Marvel announced event at the C2E2 comic convention's X-Men panel, unleashing the hype with a single piece of promotional art showing a number of X-Men wielding different blades. Wolverine was holding the Muramasa katana, Rachel Grey was wielding the Blade of the Phoenix, and Magik was holding her traditional Soulsword. But story details were kept entirely under wraps... until now.
According to Marvel, the event will see ten of these mutants given legendary swords that they will use to battle for the future of the living island of Krakoa. The event will be helmed by Hickman and Excalibur writer Tini Howard, although other tie-ins will link in as well. Marvel has confirmed the following comics will be part of the X of Swords event, although it's worth noting there have been indications the publisher will be shrinking their line post-coronavirus, so this may change.
- X of Swords: Creation #1
- X of Swords: Stasis #1
- X of Swords: Destruction #1
- X-Men #12
- X-Men #13
- X-Men #14
- Excalibur #12
- Excalibur #13
- Excalibur #14
- Marauders #13
- X-Force #13
- New Mutants #13
- Wolverine #6
- Cable #5
- Hellions #5
- X-Factor #4
- X of Swords: TBD #1
Readers may know the books to watch, but what about the actual story being hyped by the talent involved? Let's break down what we know so far.
Marvel's editor in chief C.B. Cebulski recently released the cover of X of Swords: Creation #1, the one-shot that will launch the series in September. It's an important cover, because it actually confirms the overarching plot. The image links back to a brief flashback scene from Powers of X #4, which revealed an ancient battle in which Apocalypse saved the world. In this scene, Doug Ramsey used his power over language to communicate with the island of Krakoa, and learned its history.
"We were Okkara, the one land," he told Xavier. "Ancient before that word existed, but not yet old in the way that they were old. The Twilight Sword of the enemy tore the world asunder, and what was one became two: Arakko and Krakoa. And from the chasm between them -- from whatever wicked place they came -- the enemy poured into this world." According to Doug Ramsey, only Apocalypse and his first Four Horsemen stood in defense of the world, battling against a relentless tide of unknown monsters who poured forth. In X-Men #2, the islands of Krakoa and Arakko were reunited. That issue ended with an ominous scene in which Apocalypse apparently foretold the return of the monsters he had slain before - but they won't be alone.
According to Powers of X #4, Apocalypse paid a fearsome price to save the world; he was forced to send his Four Horsemen through the chasm, to act as sentinels to forever guard it lest the monsters return. But the issue also contained an important hint, suggesting Apocalypse has regretted that decision, and will do anything to get them back. It featured a double page of so-called "Sinister Secrets," gossip and rumors circulated by Mr. Sinister, almost all of which served as foreshadowing. One of them read:
"For years, this fittest-of-all mutant has routinely surrounded himself with a particular-numbered entourage. These hangers-on stick around for a while until they are eventually replaced with newer, more exciting members. What most people don't know is that if the original members returned, these pretenders would be dropped so fast their heads would spin."
The cover of X of Swords: Creation #1 clearly shows four new characters, and these are likely to be the first Horsemen of Apocalypse. Apocalypse hails from ancient Egypt, after all, and these four are all Egyptian in style.
X-Men #2 introduced a new group, known as the Summoners. These beings are said to be able to bridge the chasm between the lost island of Arakko and "the land beyond the wild borders of Otherworld." They are able to control the dark beasts that serve the adversaries of Arakko, but unfortunately their numbers are dwindling. There are three ranks of Summoners:
- There are currently 250 Summoner Minors, able to summon a single host or minor daemon.
- There are currently only eight Summoner Adepts, who can summon a small horde of minor daemons or one major elemental.
- Finally, there is just one High Summoner, who can summon a horde of elementals and up to three major daemons.
It seems these Summoners are the last children of Apocalypse's four Horsemen, and they are struggling to hold the line as their numbers diminish. One Summoner is shown on the cover of X of Swords: Creation #1.
The Four Horsemen and the Summoners are apparently locked in an endless war against ruthless beings, creatures who control the demons and monsters that plague Arakko. So far, nothing has been revealed about these beings, beyond the curious hint they come from "the land beyond the wild borders of Otherworld." Otherworld - which has featured heavily in Tini Howard's Excalibur run - is the mystical realm that serves as the collective subconscious of the British Isles. It is best described as a pocket dimension adjacent to Earth, and it has frequently been considered the source of all magic, a key location in the Multiverse from which other dimensions can be accessed. Apocalypse has engineered the conquest of Otherworld, seating Jamie Braddock - an Omega level mutant who can manipulate reality - on its throne.
Jonathan Hickman is a smart storyteller, and he enjoys toying with readers, meaning setup is often a lot more subtle than people realize. In fact, on close examination the X-Men books are telling the story out of sequence. The most important books run in this order:
- Tini Howard's entire Excalibur run to date, which appears to explain how Apocalypse summoned Arakko and brought the two islands together again.
- X-Men #2, in which Krakoa and Arakko were reunited.
- Cable #1, set just a couple of days after the islands merged. In this issue, the young Cable disobeys orders and makes his way on to Arakko, where he retrieves the legendary blade of the first Spaceknight, Morn. Clearly this is one of the ten swords, and Cable is being set up to play a prominent role in X of Swords.
In fact, until the Cable series began, X-Men #2 may mark the furthest forward we've gone into the timeline - explaining why the so-called "Monster Island" hasn't been referenced elsewhere. It will be fascinating to see how X of Swords comes together.
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