Marvel announced the first major crossover of Jonathan Hickman’s Dawn of X era of X-Men. X of Swords will tie all the X-titles together in a ’90s throwback, 15-part crossover touching every single book in the line.
“One of the cool things we are able to do now, because we’ve established the X-line and really know where we’re going, is that we’re able to try some different things out,” Hickman said in a statement. “X of Swords will be an old school crossover that meanders through the entire line. It’s almost like chapters of a story.”
Hickman, you’ll recall, reinvigorated the X-Men line with House of X and Powers of X. And like Powers of X, X of Swords is using the Roman numeral X as a sort of low-nerdy double entendre. Where Powers of X examined four time periods of exponential scales, X of Swords heavily implies a focus on the mystical (the Ten of Swords is a not great tarot card – it depicts a man lying face down on the ground with ten swords in his back), and the promotional artwork seems to hint at that being the case.
As he did for HoX/PoX, Mark Brooks drew a pretty interesting promotional piece for X of Swords. Take a look, but be warned: Past the picture, there will be spoilers for most Dawn of X comics, as we try and look at who’s on the piece, and almost as importantly, what swords they’re holding.
Starting in the top left corner and moving clockwise:
- Eye Boy, created for Jason Aaron’s underrated Wolverine and the X-Men and slated to appear as part of Leah Williams’ and David Baldeon’s X-Factor. That book has Trevor as a part of the team that investigates mutant deaths so the resurrection protocols can be initiated. He’s wielding some kind of eye sword.
- Gorgon, the ex-Hand leader who once killed, resurrected and brainwashed Wolverine into being a Hand agent. Since joining the mutants on Krakoa, Gorgon was personally recommended by Logan to be one of the four Great Captains of Krakoa, responsible for the protection of the mutant ruling council when they leave the island. He’s holding the Godkiller sword that he’s carried since he was in Hickman’s Secret Warriors. The blade was created for Zeus but lost, and eventually made its way into Gorgon’s hands.
- Next to him is John Greycrow, formerly one of Sinister’s Marauders, and slated to be a member of Hellions, an upcoming book from Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia. Greycrow is a master marksman who honed his talents in war (originally World War II, but Marvel Time means his service dates have been moved up to Symkaria or something) and has technology powers. He’s carrying some kind of technological gunsword.
- Below and to the right is Brian Braddock, formerly Captain Britain but now titleless (I believe) after ceding the Amulet of Right to his sister Betsy in Tini Howard and Marcus To’s magnificent Excalibur. He’s holding the Sword of Might, one of the two artifacts offered to potential Captains Britain. When captured and corrupted in Otherworld by Morgan Le Fay, Brian gave up the Amulet of Right to Betsy to help her stop Le Fay’s attack. He’s currently suffering through a crisis of confidence now that he’s left with only the sword. It also feels important that he’s textually not a mutant.
- Below Captain Britain is Psylocke. This will stop being confusing in a couple of months – Kwannon (the woman who was body-swapped with Elizabeth Braddock back in the late ‘80s, then died of the Legacy Virus in Betsy’s old body) was resurrected during Wolverine’s return before HoXPoX. She was most recently in Fallen Angels running down ex-family and trying to kill Apoth, a self-aware AI drug dealer. Psylocke is carrying a fairly standard-looking sword.
- Above him is Rachel Grey, another member of X-Factor, carrying the Blade of the Phoenix, the Shi’ar sword used by the Death Commandos to wipe out her bloodline on Earth.
- Below her is Charles Xavier, carrying the sword Magneto made for him out of the broken shards of the Cerebro helmet he was wearing when he was shot in the head in the pages of X-Force.
- Next to him is Cable carrying a sword I recognize but can’t name at the moment. Cable is set to appear in his own book, from Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto, but has spent much of Dawn of X on family vacations with Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rachel Grey, his uncle Gabe, his dad’s boyfriend Wolverine, his dad’s other wife Emma Frost, and their island home’s estranged sister.
- Above Cable is Doug Ramsey, Cypher. Doug was most recently running around Shi’ar territory trying to get to Chandilar to visit with Cannonball in Hickman and Rod Reis’ New Mutants. He’s back on Earth and back to functioning as Krakoa’s voice now. The sword he’s carrying looks like it’s a techno-organic extension of his arm, but it could also be his best friend, Warlock the Technarch, hiding from Cyclops. Confused? Go read X-Men #7.
- Next to Cable and Cypher is Betsy Braddock, the newest Captain Britain. She is attacking with her telekinetic sword that’s a manifestation of her powers, and she’s dressed in her snazzy new Captain Britain uniform designed by To for Excalibur.
- Next to Betsy is a yet-unnamed sidekick to Angel who’s set to appear in Vita Ayala and Bernard Chang’s Children of the Atom, starting in April.
- Down and to his right is Domino, sporting a fancy wooden stabbing sleeve crafted by Forge to heal the parts of her that were skinned by the Reavers to allow them to pass undetected through Krakoa’s defenses in early X-Force.
- Below her is Cyclops with a laser sword. You don’t need much more than that.
- In the bottom right corner is Armor, Hisako Ichiki. She debuted in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men, and has been a leader of that era of students since. She’s currently spreading the good word about Krakoa to mutants around the world in the pages of New Mutants.
- To the left is Wolverine carrying the Muramasa blade. This sword cuts through anything and disrupts healing factors – it’s one of the few things that could potentially hurt Wolverine enough to kill him.
- Next to Logan is Magik, Ilyanna Rasputin, carrying her Soulsword. More on this in a second, but Magik has most recently been in space with Cypher and the rest of the New Mutants, in her case trying to make out with all of the Shi’ar Death Commandos.
- To Magik’s side is Storm carrying some kind of long lightning kunai.This is one of my favorite sentences of all time.
- Below Storm is Nightcrawler, the first Pope of a new mutant religion (again, read X-Men #7, it’s bonkers) carrying a fancy looking rapier. Nightcrawler has always been modeled (and modeled himself) after Errol Flynn, and the rapier is a big part of that.
- Next to Nightcrawler is Storm’s Marauders teammate Iceman, ready for some Stabbing…and…Chill…? I’m sorry, once I thought of it I had to type it.
- And finally, above Iceman is Apocalypse, the man who ended the Bronze Age. Apocalypse is pictured here holding one of the jagged scimitars he was last seen carrying in a flashback told by Cypher about Krakoa’s ancient history. Krakoa was once Okkara, one big island, until an invasion from another plane forced Apocalypse to sacrifice his first Horsemen to seal off that invasion, and half of Okkara. Arrako, the sealed off sister island to Krakoa, reappeared in X-Men #2, and with it the daughter of one of the Horsemen.
This was one of the most exciting dangling ideas from House of X and Powers of X. The fact that Dawn of X has been just as casually stuffed with new concepts and deep examinations of the changes wrought by Krakoa and the Five’s resurrection abilities, while also making time for fun superhero punch ups and picking up ideas that have been left on the ground by the introductory series is what’s making the X-Men line so exciting right now.
X of Swords kicks off in July.