Heed my words of warning! Many prophesies foretell that the world is headed not toward peace and unity, but toward a final, cataclysmic war! The battle of Armageddon is here! Feast your eyes and hearts on that story in X of Swords, chapters 1-22! Yes…all 22 chapters!
This is the story as related by the soothsayers: Vita Ayala, Ed Brisson, Gerry Duggan, Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Benjamin Percy, Zeb Wells, Leah Williams
Artwork provided by the horde: Mahmud Asrar, Viktor Bogdanovic, Joshua Cassara, Carmen Carnero, Stefano Caselli, Leinil Francis Yu, Carlos Gomez, Pepe Laraz, Matteo Lolli, Phil Noto, Rod Reis, R. B. Silva, Marcus To
The official plot:
“X OF SWORDS, the epic X-Men crossover that represents the next chapter in Jonathan Hickman’s bold new vision for the X-Men, threatens the new mutant nation of Krakoa with invasion by the inhabitants of the lost land known as Arakko…
Saturnyne, the Omniversal Majestrix, has devised a delightful way to settle this ancient dispute—a tournament. Ten champions from each nation will gather mythical swords to wield in duels that will determine the very future of mutantkind, and the hunt is on right now!”Marvel Comics
Epic crossover? Somehow that statement is both true and untrue at the same time. There is a LOT of stuff packed in this 22 issue monster. Some pretty significant changes…some subtle and some not so subtle. There is also a LOT of unnecessary fluff…and stupid fluff at that. It’s no secret that my future as a Marvel subscriber hinged on the outcome of this event…and I can tell you that halfway through, my mind was made up.
- This is an excellent overall story that includes the revelation of Apocalypse’s past, his people, their self imposed exile, the ancient enemy that corrupted them…and turned them against the world they sought to protect.
- The artwork runs the gambit from bad to beautiful. What else do you expect when you have over a dozen artists working on the same project?
- The Good: I’ve always like Apocalypse, but now I have so much more respect for him and really understand his motivations. He is NOT a villain…he is a man determined to reunite his people and family.
- The Bad: All of that emotional build up was wasted. We were sold the idea that we would have 10 epic sword fights between some big names. Instead the contests turned out to be a comical farce that included among other things; a Trial by Wedding, arm wrestling, a foot race, a drinking game, boulder punching, an eating contest, a dance-off and jigsaw puzzles. Sorry…this attempt at comedy really tainted an otherwise great story.
- The Ugly: Bad business. Marvel forced me to buy 22 issues (25 if you want the preludes and Handbook) to get this whole story…which included issues from series that I didn’t follow. This included multiple stand alone, prestige format, books. Given this filler content of some issues, this feels like Marvel sticking their hands right into my wallet and taking over $101 of my hard earned cash.
- Apocalypse vs. Annihilation!
- Every X-Team member ever…
- First appearance: The original Four Horsemen of Apocalypse! (His biological children no less!)
- First appearance: Genesis (Bride of Apocalypse and mother of the Horsemen)
- Event: The return of the Captain Britain Corps
- Revelation: Mutants can’t ALWAYS be returned from the dead
- Revelation: All is not well on the Quiet Council
Bottom Line: 3 Stars!
X of Swords is a return to the true X-Men/Marvel pattern of using a plethora of titles to tell one story and drawing it out longer than necessary. Marvel just can’t help themselves…they have to set things up so that you have to collect all of the X-titles to get a full story. They did it in the 90’s, which is why I quit the X-stories then…and it’s why I’m quitting them now. Please understand that this decision is 100% an objection to the model and not the characters or story.
That being said…I gave Marvel a chance to win me over with a great story. I wanted them to give me a solid reason to keep collecting these books. They came close. X of Swords had some awesome writing, no doubt about it. I can give you two examples. First, I’ve never cared for the new version of Cable until now. As a parent, his final battle and telepathic communication with Jean and Cyclops got me right in the feels. Second, X of Swords is above all, the tragic story of Apocalypse’s loss and struggles to reunite with his family after thousands of years…only to find out they have all become the enemy! I’ll never look at him the same way after this. Unfortunately…Marvel decided to take a big shit right in the middle of this excellent drama by turning the contest of champions into a Nickelodeon game show. That makes this feel like the whole thing was a bait-and-switch that substituted a montage of jokes for the 10 life altering battles we were promised. Sure we lost a few minor characters here and there…but no one that we really cared about.
Marvel’s refusal to deliver a well crafted, impactful story, while simultaneously picking the readers pocket is the ultimate disrespect. I refuse to support this anymore and will be sticking to lower tier characters from now on. I guess that means I’ve got more money to spend on DC, Image, Boom! and other independent titles now.