Writers: Jonathan Hickman & Tini Howard
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
X of Swords (10 of Swords for the uninitiated) has arrived and if X of Swords: Creation #1 is any indication then the Marvel Mutantverse will never be the same. Since the inception of Krakoa and the mutant homeland in last year’s House of X and Powers of X it has been a struggle for the mutants to find their place in the new world that both needs their powerful medicines that extend life but also hates the mutants for forcing them to bend to their will and acknowledge the new mutant homeland. They’ve been attacked by enemies from every side of the globe yet none of those struggles compare to what is to come, as Krakoa’s history is coming back to haunt the young nation and the X-Men might not be able to stop this new threat.
Otherworld has long been a sometime ally and sometime foe of the X-Men and specifically their British contingent, Excalibur. Ruled by the Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne from her Starlight Citadel Otherwolrd is the nexus of all worlds and has stood in defense of reality for eons. During that time Nova has utilized her Captain Britain Corps to defend each reality and when necessary to call all of her Captain Britain’s to Otherworld if it ever needed defending and it currently needs defending as Otherworld is under siege. As X of Swords: Creation #1 opens we see the last Watchtower in the Kingdom of Dryador falling to the armies of Arrako and only the Starlight Citadel stands between them and Krakoa. Never one to be without a plan, Opal (one of Marvel’s most ruthless rulers) consults her carefully crafted Tarot cards (for those of you wondering where that theme fits in) and what she sees lays out the remainder of this event yet in manner that leaves the reader questioning what they know, what they think the know, and what they think will happen.
Once there was the island of Okkara and it was a paradise, home to earth’s earliest mutants. Yet thousands of years ago Okkara was attacked by an unknown enemy wielding the Twilight Sword and to save this world Apocalypse, the first mutant, split Okkara into two and banished one half (Akkaro) to another reality while he and the other half of the island (Krakoa) survived. Yet in his sacrifice Apocalypse sacrificed his family, his first horsemen to an eternity of war and suffering. Since he first joined the new Krakoian habitat Apocalypse has been scheming, over the course of the entirety of the Dawn of X relaunch Apocalypse has been planning as if he knew something no one else did. Then early in the Krakoian era a remnant of an island appeared off the coast of Krakoia (X-Men #2), a remnant of Arrko that Krakoia happily joined with as Krakoia wishes to be Okkara again. Yet among the Arrko remnant (now know as the Arrko Point) a pale white mutant appeared, the High Summoner of Arrko and he had a tale to tell his grandfather Apocalypse about the rise and fall of Arroko (X-Men #12). With this new knowledge and a sliver of hope Apocalype’s plan comes into clarity as he sent his grandson, Banshee, and Unus the Unthouchable back through the External Gate constructed in Excalibur #12 which is a powerful gate that mutants can use to gain entry to Otherworld and then Arroko in the hopes of saving his former land. But their journey does not go as planned and as a the Summoner and an injured Banshee return to Krakoa the news of the siege of the Starlight Citadel reaches the new mutant nation.
The Quiet Council, the ruling parliament of Krakoa, is less than thrilled with the news from Otherworld nor Apocalypse’s plans. While they would rather seal the gates to Otherworld a snarky Krakoa has different plans and this is where what X of Swords is going to be truly comes into focus. As Apocalypse assembles a volunteer team to travel through the External Gate and to try and reach Arrkko before Otherworld falls. An eclectic group of X-Men volunteer (Havok, Polaris, Monet, Beast, Archangel, Rictor, Rockslide, and the Summoner) each with their own reasoning for joining the excursion… or should I say x-cursion? But what they expected to find and what is reality is vastly different and it would seem not everything or everyone is as it appears. While the excursion team falls into chaos with Apocalypse, his children-the first horsemen- and the armies of Arrko Nova’s plan becomes apparent while the Summer’s clan looks deeper into what may have actually occurred on the Summoner’s journey. With a race against time, a quest for swords, and a final page that left me with a tremendous smile as it is the biggest Sword of all and one, I should have seen coming a mile away especially in the wake of Empyre.
X of Swords: Creation #1 is a brilliantly dense kick off to this latest X-Event. I was blown away with the story and artwork as everyone on this book were at the top of their game. I badly want to see Jonathan Hickman’s notorious white board and notes for this story as I have no doubt he has been planning this since the House of X relaunch. He and Tini Howard (who has been doing an absolutely stellar job on Excalibur) have written a compelling story that draws the reader in and even though this is a thick and heavy in content it is easy to follow and completely accessible. I can also easily say that Pepe Larraz is one of if not my favorite artist currently working in comics. His style is so dynamic and clean. His style has solidified over the last few years and with Marte Gracia’s colors the pages of this book drip in depth and style. I was already on board with X of Swords but now I can’t wait to see what comes next week so check back in for X of Swords Week 2.