It’s been a year since Jonathan Hickman birthed the “Dawn of X” era in the Marvel Universe, and to commemorate its first anniversary, he’s bringing swords. Ten of them. Welcome to week one of our X of Swords coverage with its opening installment, X of Swords: Creation #1.
This past year of X-Men comics has introduced lots of new information, but here’s a quick summary of the most relevant events and revelations:
- Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert (secretly a mutant with the power of rewound resurrection) settled a new mutant nation on the sentient island of Krakoa.
- Krakoa and its sibling Arakko used to make up the larger Okkara, but the latter was sealed off by Apocalypse to protect it from an enemy invasion, accidentally locking his original Four Horsemen (and wife, Genesis) inside. Annihilation, the dark god who attacked Arakko, killed Genesis and then took over, dwindling its mutant population.
- Meanwhile, Apocalypse has been secretly using the new Excalibur to carry out his grand plan of sacrificing his fellow Externals (immortal mutants like himself) to power the gateway that he believed would take him back to Arakko.
- Having finally procured the means to travel there, Apocalypse is—quite fortuitously—united with his apparent grandson Summoner and makes plans to help liberate Arakko with the combined might of Krakoa.
- There’s also lots of business with Otherworld, its omniversal majestrix Saturnyne, the kingdom of Avalon, and tarot cards, but we’ll cross that External Gateway when we get there!
Yes, it’s a lot. Figuratively and literally (X of Swords expanded in length because of COVID-19, unlike its event cousin Empyre). But as long as you remember the golden rule of comics (it’s all made up and supposed to be fun!), then you’ll be happy to know that X of Swords: Creation #1 is absolutely worth the hype and a worthy start to Dawn of X’s second year.
X OF SWORDS: WEEK ONE
X OF TITLES
Just one this week: X of Swords: Creation #1.
X OF EVENTS
The First Horsemen invade the kingdom of Dryador as an ominous message to Saturnyne, the ruler of Otherworld. She draws tarot cards to gain insight into coming events. Among them is the Ten of Swords, which can either mean “dawn” or “darkness” depending on the interpretation. Almost like it’s meant to be foreboding…
Elsewhere on Krakoa, Apocalypse learns from Summoner that a war on Otherworld is underway, with one of his scouts (Unus) captured and the other (Banshee) close to death. He approaches the Quiet Council about helping save Arakko from ruin, but they refuse to provide aid, leaving Apocalypse to recruit volunteers for this possible suicide run. Upon arrival, Apocalypse informs the team (including the likes of Polaris, Rictor, and Monet) that the First Horsemen are his children. Apocalypse’s reunion with his children is not a happy one, however, and he is apparently killed as revenge for leaving them behind.
Back on Krakoa, Cable and Rachel Summers scrub the unconscious Banshee’s memories, learning that Summoner betrayed him and Unus by selling them out to the First Horsemen. When they’re intercepted and blocked out by Saturnyne, Cable relays this new information to Cyclops and Jean, who begin to form their own plans of rescue through a separate gateway.
While the war on Otherworld wages on, Saturnyne refuses to intervene, until she announces that the Krakoans and Arakkoans will ultimately fight for their sides in a contest of champions. What neither of them know is that the headquarters of S.W.O.R.D. has some role to play in the upcoming strife.
X OF WORDS
If you’ve been following the story (or rather, stories) in progress, then you’ll know what to expect from this issue. Hickman’s grandiose mundanity is on perfect display. Everything is presented matter-of-factly as Hickman tends to do, which contrasts with the epic events happening on the page. It makes moments like a choice f-bomb (thanks, Monet) all the more satisfying.
You’ll get more out of this issue if you’ve been keeping up with X-Men and Excalibur (of which both their writers, Hickman and Tini Howard, are top-billed), but all the important information is conveyed to the reader when necessary, so you could theoretically jump on with this storyline. Other writers will be coming onboard to pen their respective installments of the story, so it’ll be interesting to see how Hickman’s voice continues to influence their scripts.
(Stray observation: Banshee arrives as a harbinger of what’s to come, much like the mythological entity that inspired his creation. Obvious yet clever writing!)
X OF PICTURES
Creation is drawn by Pepe Larraz, whose work on House of X catapulted him to superstar status overnight, and he’s exactly the right person to ease us into the unfolding story. While X of Swords isn’t strictly a sequel to Hox-Pox, it’s definitely carrying similar stakes and implications for the franchise moving forward, so I’m glad to see his art bridging the gap. Creation is full of gorgeous imagery that proves why Larraz gained so much notoriety from his last go-round, and I’m excited to see what he does with the next “benchmark” issues of this crossover, Stasis and Destruction. Similarly to the writers playing hot potato with the story, we’ll be seeing many artists interpret the saga moving forward, which should be quite illuminating for us readers.
I only have one minor quibble: Saturnyne is drawn quite similarly to Emma Frost, which could potentially confuse some people who aren’t familiar with her (I have to admit it took me a second to realize who I was looking at…). I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m so used to how Larraz draws Emma that’s making me think so, and I wonder if anybody else caught the resemblance.
NE(X)T OF SWORDS
The story continues in next week’s X-Factor #4. I’m interested to see how the newest Dawn of X title fares, launching straight into a huge crossover after their brief arc in the Mojoverse. Its cover suggests The Five will be involved somehow, which means one thing: MORE GOLDBALLS! (I refuse to call him Egg. He will always be Goldballs in my heart.)