This week in X of Swords, Wolverine and Storm head off to find their blades for the upcoming war with Arakko, but they won’t quite come to them easily…
X OF SWORDS: WEEK THREE
X OF TITLES
This week we’ve got a whopping three titles: Wolverine #6, X-Force #13, and Marauders #13.
X OF EVENTS
Before embarking on his quest, Wolverine convenes with Krakoa and accuses it of inviting war with Arakko by opening the External Gate against the Quiet Council’s wishes. He flees to Japan to seek his old ally, the demon swordsmith Muramasa, who once bequeathed Logan with a blade bonded to his soul. After a run-in with the Silver Samurai, Logan finds Muramasa’s lifeless body at the gateway to Hell, where he’s unexpectedly ambushed by The Hand. Meanwhile on Arakko, War and Pestilence recruit one of their champions for war: the affable Solem, currently imprisoned for killing the former’s husband ages ago. They notify Solem that he’s meant to seek the very same sword Logan is after.
To escape the Hand, Logan rushes through to Hell and finds Muramasa, claiming he was forced to make an entire arsenal for the ninja clan. He then meets Solem, who explains he found his way to Hell after learning his signature dagger —the Hellblade— was actually a portal key. Logan tries to fight Solem off, but his efforts are in vain when he finds out the Arakkoan’s entire body is covered in chainmail-like Adamantium skin, and he reluctantly agrees to lead him to Muramasa. Logan and Solem find Muramasa, but they’re too late, and he is killed as part of a demonic Hand wedding ceremony. Fortunately for them, however, Muramasa has crafted two new swords for the couple, but Solem is only willing to sell Logan a spare for an unspecified price unknown to the reader. With his blade in tow, Logan returns to Krakoa and joins Magik on the casting circle.
Elsewhere, Storm knows what she must do: obtain the mighty Skybreaker sword from Wakanda, reserved exclusively for their rulers under dire circumstances. She tries to convince Queen Mother Ramonda and Princess Shuri, who are presiding over the kingdom in T’Challa’s absence, that she needs Skybreaker, but they decline her request as it would cause political turmoil for them. Even after a long discussion on the topic with Shuri, Storm is still denied the sword, so she takes matters into her own hands and proceeds to steal it. T’Challa stops Storm in the Skybreaker vault and ultimately lets her leave with the sword, but at the cost of destroying the Wakandan Krakoa gate, bruising their diplomatic relationship. Storm returns to Krakoa with Skybreaker in hand, joining Magik and Wolverine in the casting circle with their own blades. Three down, seven more to go.
X OF WORDS
After setting the stakes and establishing the rules for what’s to come, we’ve reached the next phase of the X of Swords saga: following the champions as they retrieve their blades. This week, we’ve got Wolverine and Storm setting off in their sidequests, though one character gets slightly more emphasis than the other.
Though technically separate, Wolverine #6 and X-Force #6 are effectively two halves of a single, super oversized issue of the former. They’re both written by Benjamin Percy, drawn by Viktor Bogdanovic, and colored by Matt Wilson, with Wolverine leading into the latter fairly seamlessly. I understand they probably didn’t want to publish both parts as one issue priced at $9.99 during a time when people are generally strapped for cash, but it’s kind of a pointless move as you can’t read one of them without the other. Regardless!
The Wolverine-centric story this week is fairly complicated and features lots of moving parts, so you may have to read through it two or three times to completely catch everything. Not only do you have to be following X of Swords, but you also have to know the deal about the Muramasa Blade and The Hand in order to completely follow what’s happening. That being said, I enjoyed the introduction of Solem, whom Percy is apparently building up to be be Wolverine’s new “arch-nemesis” (fuck Sabretooth’s drag, right?) with a cool, Loki-esque demeanor. I have a feeling those two are gonna butt heads sooner than later…
Meanwhile, the Storm-centric Marauders #13 is much easier to follow and features a cast of characters and concepts that a more casual Marvel fan would be likelier to recognize, making for a breezy reading experience. Storm’s mission also comes with much graver stakes than Wolverine’s trip to Hell. Stealing Skybreaker will undoubtedly have ramifications for Krakoa’s relations with Wakanda moving forward, but there’s also the small matter of T’Challa being Storm’s ex-husband, with whom she’s only recently been reconciling. Marauders #13 also happens to be the Dawn of X debut for Vita Ayala, whose long-delayed Children of the Atom finally debuts in January, and they’ll also be taking over New Mutants starting in December. Their issue was a very enjoyable read, so I’m looking forward to more from them in this corner of the Marvel Universe.
I think both stories this week are overall successful in justifying their narrative existence, as they show what each of Krakoa’s would-be champions are grappling with as they prepare for what seems to be a suicide run, with Storm’s edging out Wolverine’s. Who’s gonna say “no” to more Ororo Munroe?
X OF PICTURES
All of the art this week is spectacular, with Viktor Bogdanovic and Matteo Lolli turning in solid work for their respective issues. They’ve both established great visuals as the regular ongoing artists of Wolverine and Marauders, so it’s not exactly a surprise for them to be doing well in their roles, but it’s still appreciated nonetheless.
Last week’s X-Factor #4 suffered from having decent (if unexciting) art, and I’m thankful that it doesn’t seem that Marvel is pushing for a unified style throughout the entire storyline. Lolli’s style isn’t that far removed from what Pepe Larraz has done in HoXPoX and Creation, but Bogdanovic’s art definitely doesn’t look like either of theirs.
I particularly like how Bogdanovic draws Krakoa as slightly more menacing than we’ve grown accustomed to, as though he’s intentionally leaning into Logan’s accusations of the sentient being inciting war with Arakko against Xavier and Magneto’s wishes. Meanwhile, Lolli shows great artistic versatility on Marauders with color artist Edgar Delgado, rendering the origin of Skybreaker through flat colors and painterly flourishes that almost gives that sequence a cave painting feeling befitting the primal era being depicted. Delgado in particular also seems to be mindful of the early criticism of his coloring towards BIPOC characters like Storm, avoiding lighter tones for not just herself but for Ramonda and Shuri as well.
Overall, these three issues are a good sign that we won’t just be seeing one kind of art despite everything being part of a larger story.
NE(X)T OF SWORDS
Next week is another heavy one with Hellions #5, New Mutants #13, and Cable #5.
X of Swords: Week Three
- Writers: Benjamin Percy (Wolverine, X-Force), Vita Ayala (Marauders)
- Artists: Viktor Bogdanovic (Wolverine, X-Force), Matteo Lolli (Marauders)
- Color Artists: Matt Wilson (Wolverine, X-Force), Edgar Delgado (Marauders)
- Letterers: Cory Petit (Wolverine, Marauders), VC’s Joe Caramagna (X-Force)
- Cover Artists: Adam Kubert, Frank Martin (Wolverine), Dustin Weaver, Edgar Delgado (X-Force), Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson (Marauders)
- Editor: Jordan D. White
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment