Marvel published two X-Books last week: X of Swords: Creation #1 and Juggernaut #1. These books couldn't be more different. On the one hand, an overpriced one-shot kicking off a 22-part crossover event that will rock the X-Men universe to its foundations and make sure nothing is ever the same again, produced by the entire stable of superstar creators in the X-office. On the other, the start of a very down-to-Earth character-focused story with a sleeper hit creative team of industry veterans. Here in X-ual Healing, I recap 'em both. No favorites!
Last Week in Comics Drama
It was all about letterer Jim Campbell ripping into Tom King, DC Comics, and everyone involved in the Rorschach unauthorized sequel to Watchmen. Campbell ended up deleting all his tweets but then reposting the same message because someone tagged Jim Lee in them. He also complained about Bleeding Cool making a clickbait article out of them without asking him for additional comment, but really, what more was there to say? He pretty much nailed it, and I don't think he was out of line with anything he said, even if he rightfully trashed some of his fellow industry pros. Far more shocking is that most comic book creators lack the spines to speak up at all about the situation with Watchmen, despite claiming to revere Alan Moore and to stand for creator rights. Just goes to show you, it's considered more unacceptable to speak ill of your colleagues on Twitter. Even when you're right, it is to exploit the creativity of a beloved fellow creator against his wishes because saying anything about it upsets the delicate status economy of low-paying comics jobs everyone is desperately fighting for. Anyway, good for you, Jim Campbell, and sorry if our article brought you any grief.
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities. Still, thanks to a corporate merger, a line-wide relaunch, and Jonathan Hickman's giant ego, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics for lovers of soap opera drama.
X OF SWORDS CREATION #1
(W) Jonathan Hickman (A/CA) Pepe Larraz
X OF SWORDS – CHAPTER 1
A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies.
In Shops: Sep 23, 2020
X of Swords: Creation #1 Recap
X of Swords: Creation is the first part of a 22-part crossover that, if it were written in the 80s, could have probably been finished a third of the issues, so get ready for some major decompression. The story opens at Di'Lorr, the last watchtower in the Kingdom of Dryador, which is surrounded by the armies of Amenth, which appear to be led by the original Horsemen (Ric, Arn, Ole, and Tully). Inside the watchtower, The Cursed King (don't worry, this is the first and last time we'll ever see him) decides to go down with the ship… er, watchtower. He sends a messenger to warn Saturnyne, but Pestilence shoots the messenger with an arrow, not to stop him, but to make the message sent to Saturnyne even clearer.
After the opening credits, the messenger arrives, nearly dead and full of disease, at the Starlight Citadel. He relays his final message: "The Tower has fallen! Arakko has fallen!" Meanwhile, in "some forgotten place" at "some forsaken time," Saturnyne's minions draw a magical symbol on a star and pull a giant snake-like thing out of it, which they then shrink into a ball and bring back through a portal. The star is destroyed.
At this point, we've gone several pages without a wall of text prose page, so we get one explaining the Starlight Citadel. At the Starlight Citadel, Saturnyne does the tarot card reading from the X-Men FCBD issue, except there's different text this time. The Judgement card warns of other things in the Earth awakened by the mutants' resurrection protocols. The Four of Wands predicts one final victory for the original Horsemen. The Hanged Man is about a team of X-Men, led by Apocalypse, who have suspended natural laws. The Eight of Cups shows the split image of Genesis and Annihilation and suggests she still wants the Apocalypse D, but he can't satisfy her because he's only got one. Has she met Wolverine? The Ten of Swords card, of course, is about swords. "A great match lights the darkness," Saturnyne says, perhaps referring to the fact that people will need to burn these comics come winter because they spent all the money needed to heat their homes on $6.99 one-shots. A prose page by Tarot (the mutant) says she also drew these same five cards in a reading two times recently, and others have been drawing them as well. She has her own interpretations of the cards.
At the gate to Otherworld on Krakoa, Summoner bursts through riding a giant Octopus/Insect creature. He's carrying Banshee, who is wounded. He explains that they were ambushed by an army in Otherworld, and they're headed this way. Apocalypse brings Summoner to the Quiet Council and explains what's going on the origins of Krakoa and Arakko, and his building of gates. Summoner explains what happened to him, Banshee, and Unus the Untouchable when they were sent through the gate to herald Apocalypse's return: they were distracted by the Starlight Citadel's majesty and then attacked by the dark army, who captured Unus and wounded Banshee. Arakko has fallen, and the army is headed here next. After some debate, and a chance to show everyone's favorite characters on panel, the council agrees the big gate must be destroyed, but Krakoa itself disagrees and wants the gate to remain open. Apocalypse will gather a team of volunteers and lead a rescue mission through the gate.
That team is the one seen in the Hanged Man card: Havok, Polaris, Rockslide, Summoner, Rictor, Siryn, Archangel, Beast, and Monet. They all have their reasons for coming. We get a three-page "map" of Otherworld, really just an excuse for Hickman to make up some of his trademark glyphs. At the Healing Gardens, Rachel Grey and Cable decided to read Banshee's mind while he's unconscious. Can you guess what they'll find? The X-Men go through the gate, and Apocalypse sees his children. In the Banshee mind-reading, Banshee, Unus, and Summoner go through, and Summoner goes to speak with the army, seemingly not an ambush at all. Apocalypse does the same in the present, greeting his children. After some pleasantries, they attack him, and a fight breaks out. In Banshee's memory, as you can probably guess, we see that Summoner is in league with the Horsemen. As Cable and Rachel dig deeper into the memory, they see the Citadel, and Saturnyne notices them. She shows them what they need to find to win.
In Otherworld in the present, Saturnyne oversees the battle taking place below the Citadel. Rockslide wants to save Apocalypse, but Summoner tells him it's not possible. He calls back to the game they played a couple of weeks ago in (was it Excalibur or X-Men?) and then materializes a sword made of darkness from his arm, which he uses to slice Rockslide in half, including his energy essence. Rictor is shot by a Pestilence arrow as he and Beast try to help Apocalypse back through the gate. Havok, Polaris, and Penance stay behind to hold off the armies while the rest return to Krakoa to seek help.
At the Summer House, Cable tells Cyclops and Jean Grey about what he saw, including the thing Saturnyne showed him, which is a mysterious globe type thing. Scott says he's seen it before and knows where to find it. In Otherworld, Money tries to shame Saturnyne into helping out below, but she refuses. Havok tells Polaris to bring the Citadel crashing down to force her to help. That seems like the kind of thing that could backfire majorly. Cyclops, Jean, and Cable take transporters to the place where the globe thing is, on Earth. In Otherworld, Saturnyne freezes everyone in place and walks through the middle of the battle. On Earth, Cyclops explains that the globe thing is a space bridge, and it needs a powerful energy source to operate. Cable whips out his Space Knight sword and sticks it in.
In Otherworld, Saturnyne talks to the Horseman Death. She cites obscure Otherworld rules that say, since the Horsemen defeated Dryador, they have taken their place as vassals of the Citadel and to make a long story short, in three days, the champions of Arakko will duel the champions of Otherworld over the fate of Krakoa. The X-Men present agree to fight as Otherworld's champions. Pestilence and Polaris name the ten titular swords for this crossover.
The Arrakans go home to prepare, and Saturnyne tells the X-Men to go home and choose their champions as well. Meanwhile, Cyclops, Jean, and Cable activate the space bridge, and apparently, it reactivates S.W.O.R.D.'s ortbital station, The Peak, or something like that.
So if I'm getting this right, X of Swords is basically going to be… a fight between two teams of five champions of Krakoa and Arakko? My god, X of Swords is… WWE Survivor Series! Well, unless the champions fight tournament style, in which case it will be King of the Ring. My worlds are colliding! X-Men! Pro wrestling! "Ladies and gentlemen, X of Swords is the one crossover of the year where the superstars of Krakoa face the superstars of Arakko," I can hear that son of a bitch Michael Cole saying now. This will either be totally glorious or epically bad, but I'm looking forward to watching it either way. All of that said… seven bucks is still too much god damn money for a comic book.
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This post is part of a multi-part series: X-ual Healing X-Men Recaps for the Week of September 2rd, 2020.