X OF TITLES
Another triple-header this week with Hellions #5, New Mutants #13, and Cable #5.
X OF EVENTS
Following the (relative) success of their inaugural mission, Mr. Sinister volunteers his Hellions to help out with the upcoming Contest of Swords, but his plans don’t involve heading into battle. He instead proposes that the Hellions find and steal the 10 blades of Arakko before the fight even begins, forcing their rivals to forfeit and thus guarantee Krakoa victory without any bloodshed. The Quiet Council ultimately votes to move forward with Sinister’s idea, but under the condition that he join them rather than call the shots from afar. Taking advantage of Krakoa’s relationship with Jamie Braddock, the king of Avalon, Sinister bribes his way into the land by agreeing to accept the king’s prized (and burdensome) horse, Princess Silkmane. Thanks to Empath’s handy ability of emotional manipulation winning over hostile Avalonians who object to their presence, the Hellions are able to proceed into Otherworld and carry out their mission.
Back on Krakoa, non-fighter Cypher struggles with being one of Krakoa’s prophesied champions, even if best friend Warlock will serve as his sword and protect him from harm. Magik helps train him in combat, and, while he slowly starts to improve as a fighter, neither are convinced it’ll be enough. Exodus then volunteers himself to replace Doug and Warlock, which would involve killing him on Krakoa while the resurrection protocols are suspended so that he can’t be brought back until after it’s over, but Doug declines the offer. Krakoa tries to convince Doug that he should let Exodus fight in his place, reasoning that he’s too valuable for the mutant-Krakoan relationship to die a permanent death, but Doug asserts he needs to face his fears and fulfill the prophecy. Magik reiterates that Doug has made strides in his training, but that he should still prepare for the worst. They join Wolverine and Storm on the casting circle.
Elsewhere, Cable has just used his blade, the Light of Galador, to reboot the S.W.O.R.D. space station, which was mysteriously abandoned. When they go to investigate there, Cable and Scott find a gigantic portal of unknown origin, while Jean stumbles upon the sole survivor of whatever happened to the S.W.O.R.D. crew, who leaves her with a cryptic warning. They’re soon met by the perpetrators, identified by Jean as a humanoid virus called the Vescora, who swarm through the portal to fight them. Though they’re able to hold their own for long enough, Cable shuts off power to the S.W.O.R.D. station, which closes the Vescora portal. The Summerses return to Krakoa, and Cable joins his fellow champions on the casting circle.
X OF WORDS
This week introduces a narrative wrinkle into the proceedings established thus far, and its name is Sinister. While his more virtuous allies are preparing for the worst through training and rallying one another, Sinister has the brilliant idea to just simply cheat the game before they even have to play it. Will his plan work? I have no idea! Probably not! But I’m very interested in seeing the Hellions try to hack the Contest of Swords. Sinister himself has always been a highlight throughout the Hickman era, so I won’t say no to more Sinister. Writer Zeb Wells deserves credit for making his first Swords of X issue feel completely seamless with what he’s already been doing on the title, especially since they’re only now just coming off their first arc. Even without the tie-in, Hellions #5 could plausibly be just another unrelated storyline and work on its own (“the Hellions invade Otherworld!”), but having the broader connection is just a bonus.
The other two issues, Cable #5 and New Mutants #13, take more after last week’s Wolverine and Storm centric chapters, with the distinction that Cypher and Cable already have their swords. Instead of finding them, we follow their emotional journeys knowing the weight of what’s to come and what they have to do. While Cable is busy being distracted by some cosmic shenanigans with mommy and daddy, Doug spends his time worrying about his role in the Contest as someone who is largely useless in combat. This New Mutants run has been wildly inconsistent compared to some of its sister titles, but having such a Doug-centric issue with lots of Illyana brings it closer to what you’d ideally want from a New Mutants book.
Of the two issues, I think New Mutants is more substantial in terms of character development, while Cable undoubtedly plants some seeds that may or may not bloom during this storyline. (We already know there’s a new S.W.O.R.D. book coming to the Dawn of X lineup soon, but its relevance to X of Swords remains to be seen.) I gotta say, however, that if I had to form a dead pool for the likely casualties of the upcoming battle, Doug and Cable are pretty high up on that list. Doug, who has already died once before under tragic circumstances, is invaluable to Krakoa, and him being taken off the board would introduce some serious conflicts moving forward. Cable, on the other hand, isn’t the “real” one we’ve known since the ’90s, and we already know the news of his death has been greatly exaggerated (according to this year’s Cable #1), so I wouldn’t be too comfortable if I were him.
X OF PICTURES
This might be the overall strongest art we’ve had in a single week of X of Swords yet: Carmen Carnero, Rod Reis, and Phil Noto all deliver great visuals for their respective issues. Carnero, recently of Captain Marvel (and something called X-Corp which may or may not still be happening), subs in for Hellions’ Stephen Segovia, and it’s a pretty unobtrusive swap. Rod Reis finally returns to New Mutants after a long span of issues off, and his incredible Sienkiewicz-esque style really elevates Brisson’s script and makes it feel like a natural progression from Chris Claremont’s seminal run. And then we’ve got Phil Noto continuing his Cable run, which is really just more of the same goodness we’re used to from him. I don’t really have anything more substantial to say other than that it’s all great art this week!
NE(X)T OF SWORDS
Next week, we’re down from three to two chapters in Excalibur #13 and X-Men #13, but with five of the ten Champions ready to fight, there isn’t much more time left until the ultimate fight…
X of Swords: Week Four
- Writers: Zeb Wells (Hellions), Ed Brisson (New Mutants), Gerry Duggan (Cable)
- Artists: Carmen Carnero (Hellions), Rod Reis (New Mutants), Phil Noto (Cable)
- Color Artists: David Curiel (Hellions), Rod Reis (New Mutants), Phil Noto (Cable)
- Letterers: VC’s Ariana Maher (Hellions), VC’s Travis Lanham (New Mutants), VC’s Joe Sabino (Cable)
- Cover Artists: Stephen Segovia and Sunny Gho (Hellions), Rod Reis (New Mutants), Phil Noto (Cable)
- Editor: Jordan D. White
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment