Getting pretty far afield from the central theme of a crew of mutants on the high seas, Marauders #13 dives deep into the relationship Ororo Monroe (Storm) has with her ex-husband and his Wakandan relatives. It achieves half of the storytelling mandate in that its conclusion (for the needs of the larger X of Swords crossover) is in fact inevitable but it is far from surprising.
The second that Ororo heard the proclamation she knew what she had to do, and that she did not want to do it. The words went: "Once goddess, once queen, one sword with which to split the sky in twain. Vibranium inlaid, a tempest contained, the wrath of heavens does wielding a legacy." While reflecting on her life in a series of sepia tones flashbacks alongside the cold open, Storm reflected on her short lived reign as the queen of Wakanda, including all the secrets she learned.
One very fun thing that this Vita Ayala script reveals is the secret history of weapons made by the secretive people, including the Nation Maker, which "has struck down a thousand enemies,"or the daggers called the Panther's Claws, or T'Challa's own sword, "the king's mercy (which looks like it adds to dex checks and saving throws). This is a lot like when the Immortal Weapons were introduced and their specific fighting moves were listed in action. However, Storm doesn't want any of those blades, or Wakanda's fierce military, or the technological wonders the princess Shuri can create or even the help of her former husband and current love interest T'Challa. No, she wants the Skybreaker, the first weapon forged from vibranium by the first Wakandan king that "can convert small amounts of energy into exponentially larger amounts of energy."
Go on, think about that for a second. An energy magnifier with a geometric scale wielded by an omega class mutant, one that seems immune to damage from cold or force damage. You can see the action scenes, and maybe even game play screens, in your head, right? With the great visual storytelling of Matteo Lolli, Edgar Delgado and Cory Petit, this is all laid out with excellent details (the meal was a pleasant surprise, as was the priest-filled secured facility). Every part of that is cool.
What's not cool is the languid means by which Storm acquired this blade, a blade expressly forbidden to be even touched by anyone who is not the Black Panther. She agonizes over the decision on Krakoa, she agonizes over her decision at dinner with Shuri, she agonizes over the decision as she enacts it and she agonizes over it when the issue is complete. What she never did was engage some agency and think, "maybe I'll change the rules." There have been many times in her history when Ororo chose to fight for the children of the atom, her "people," to the exclusion of others who would claim her as well. Here even T'Challa says, "I remember a time when Wakandans were your people." Everybody asks her to talk it through, but nooooo, Storm wants to blow on through and do things the way an extradimensional Emma Frost lookalike said she had to.
You get where the crossover needs you to be, and you take in some truly fascinating things on the way, but the road is not exactly one that does you any favors getting there. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By Vita Ayala, Matteo Lolli
X OF SWORDS, PART 5 A secret flight. A long journey. A Thief and a Queen.
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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