After 22 chapters, Marvel’s massive X-Men crossover event, X of Swords has come to a close, and with it, the Dawn of X era. The story touched every book in the X-Men family and brought us answers to a few of the lingering questions that were casually tossed at the audience during House of X/Powers of X. But X of Swords asked more questions than it answered. And heading into the next phase of X-Mastermind Jonathan Hickman and the rest of the magnificent team of X-Men creators’ big plan, that’s a very good thing.
To set the stage going into Reign of X, we’ve decided to lay out some of the big questions asked in X of Swords (and by the Reign of X teaser image you see at the top of the page).
WHAT HAPPENED IN X OF SWORDS?
X of Swords was primarily three stories: Betsy Braddock’s journey towards fully becoming Captain Britain; Saturnyne trying to get Betsy to accept being Captain Britain (and trying to nail her brother Brian, the previous Captain Britain); and the payoff to the Krakoa/Arakko schism first introduced in Powers of X. It did all of those things magnificently, telling what ended up being a definitive Apocalypse story reuniting him with his long lost family, and reestablishing the Captain Britain Corps of multiversal guardians under Saturnyne’s control.
Along the way, the story also gave the X-team of creators a chance to cut loose and have a blast. The setup promised what was essentially a season of Dragon Ball Super in an X-Men comic: the battle for control of Krakoa and Arakko would come down to a tournament between 10 champions for each side, with each champion wielding a unique sword. The first half of the crossover followed several heroes as they tracked down their blades, and gave us some wonderful character moments with Magik, Cypher, Storm, the Braddocks, and others.
But once the tournament started, it ended up being the fighting equivalent of Whose Line Is It Anyway – the rules were made up and the points didn’t matter. There were definitely sword fights, and when they happened they were usually excellent, but there was also a drinking contest between Storm and Wolverine, and Gorgon and Magik did a jigsaw puzzle together, Doug married Bei the Blood Moon, and Gorgon banged a boulder.
When it came down to it, X of Swords was an Excalibur story, and it honored that book’s roots by being multiversal, very silly, and full of effective character growth. And very, very good.
In the end, Krakoa won the tournament when Apocalypse defeated his wife and the Annihilation Helm in single combat. Amenth did not take the loss well, and unleashed the full might of its army on Saturnyne and the Krakoans, but they were saved three times; first by the return of the full Captain Britain Corps; again when the X-Men rode in on the once and future S.W.O.R.D. headquarters and dumped a swarm of extradimensional cyborg virus people on the Amenthi monsters; and finally when Apocalypse claimed the Annihilation helmet, and ended the battle by surrendering to Saturnyne.
And at the end, when Saturnyne demanded an exchange of prisoners (sort of) between the two sides to seal the peace, Apocalypse decided to join his family on Amenth, and in return sent all of Arakko to join the Krakoans on Earth.
MILLIONS OF NEW MUTANTS AND A NEW LAND MASS JUST SHOWING UP IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE A THING, ISN’T IT?
For some people, sure. Presumably the already tense geopolitical situation created by a new mutant nation leveraging Krakoan superscience is going to have a little more pressure added to it when Krakoa doubles in physical size and adds millions of super powered beings born and raised in (approximately) hell.
Add to that the two open seats on the Quiet Council and you have a ton of politics that need examining, something that both X-Men and X-Force have done gladly since the relaunch.
WHAT TWO OPEN SEATS?
Apocalypse’s departure to wander Amenth with his wife and kids (honestly, this crossover is God-tier just for believably turning Apocalypse into a Wife Guy) left one Autumn seat open. The other open seat came when Marvel Girl joined Cyclops in some light insubordination at the climax of the story.
The Council repeatedly ruled against outside involvement in the Otherworld tournament – the 9 fighters could compete, but they weren’t sending anybody else (who mattered – more in a second), both because it wasn’t deemed safe for Krakoa to leave it unguarded, and because death on Otherworld scrambled the resurrection protocols. Cyclops and Marvel Girl decided that they couldn’t abide by that and rounded up an enormous crew of mutants, who they brought through on The Peak to save the day. However, when Marvel Girl joined, she resigned her seat on the Council.
That leaves two open seats, and speculation abounds about who might join their ranks.
The Spring seat vacated by Marvel Girl should be filled by someone with more traditional X-Men ties. Smart money here is on Angel, with Penance being another possible addition, in part because of the teaser. It looks like the long-rumored (and subtly referenced in Empyre: X-Men) X-Corp book is finally on its way, and we know that the heads of the mutants’ non-Hellfire corporate interests are Warren Worthington III and Monet St. Croix. They would be a logical addition and a nice counterbalance to the Hellfire Trading Company, which looks like it’s about to descend into chaos as Marauders follows up on Kitty Pryde’s murder at the hands of Sebastian Shaw from before the crossover.
Apocalypse’s seat is a complete wild card. Other Autumn seats are held by Professor X and Magneto, and with Apocalypse, the three represented three pillars of mutant philosophy. It’s not immediately clear who might be a suitable fit in that framework, but an Amenthi representative does make a certain amount of sense. Some have speculated Isca the Unbeaten might join the council, but I’m not sure the mutants would want to include in private strategic discussions someone whose mutant power compels them to switch sides if they’re going to lose.
WHAT IF THAT LAST SEAT GOES TO THE SHADOW KING?
Oh yeah that would really suck. Also, he’s prominently featured in the teaser, and it looks like he might be joining the cast of New Mutants when Vita Ayala takes over. That would be very, very bad. For the mutants. For us, that’s probably some good story.
WHAT HAPPENED TO BETSY?
It’s not entirely clear. She “died” in one of the earliest battles of the tournament, and we know from Rockslide’s death at the start of the crossover that dying on Otherworld scrambles your backups. What comes out of that egg is approximately whatever a slot machine that contains all of that person’s personalities from throughout the multiverse decides to shoot out.
However, when Captain Britain died in the tournament, she shattered into shards of stained glass. Shards that Saturnyne had collected, and then as all looked grim in the tournament, she pieced them back together and resurrected Betsy, and with her, a full Captain Britain Corps comprised of all the various Betsys from throughout the multiverse.
The Captain Britain Corps, as a refresher, was created by Merlin as a group of protectors of every corner of the omniverse. They served in that function largely uninterrupted until the multiverse was destroyed in Jonathan Hickman’s massive Avengers story that culminated in Secret Wars, when the Corps was demolished in battle by the Beyonders. That destruction caused Saturnyne to close off the Starlight Citadel and led to turmoil among the realms of Otherworld, so presumably the return of the Corps is going to help with stability there.
That said, Avalon is still governed by Jamie Braddock; Sevalith is a realm of vampires and has a possibly turned Death on it; Mercator is an unknown region, but sounds like it’s governed by another reality-altering omega mutant, Mister M; and the Crooked Market is administered by yet another reality warper, Mad Jim Jaspers. And Betsy Prime (or Betsy 616, as the main Marvel universe also reclaims its original number for the first time post-Secret Wars) is apparently missing. It would seem all of this will be followed up on in the pages of Tini Howard’s stellar Excalibur.
Skipping the obvious ones that are asked in the story – what kind of drama will grow out of Storm’s theft of the Wakandan sword; can Bei, Doug and Warlock manage a throuple; what happens when arakko and krakoa bang it out; where’s solem.
DID ALL THOSE HELLIONS DIE ON OTHERWORLD?
The only book that was functionally superfluous to X of Swords was Hellions, but that’s okay because it was such a riot. Mister Sinister gathered up his team on a Quite Council-sanctioned mission into Otherworld to try and steal the Amenthi swords before the tournament started. Unfortunately, they were extremely late and couldn’t do anything to help their Krakoan countrymen. On the other hand, that was exactly Sinister’s plan.
Sinister went to Amenth to get genetic material from the Amenthi mutants, to add to his collection. While there, he and his team met Tarn the Uncaring, Sinister’s Amenthi equivalent. Tarn unleashed his Vile School mutants on the Hellions, and absolutely wrecked them: Nanny and Orphan Maker were killed very quickly; Wild Child stayed behind to buy Psylocke, Havok, Empath, and Greycrow time to escape with the genetic goods Sinister stole; and Sinister himself is pulled apart by Tarn in the fight (it’s fine, he was a clone).
However, it’s not entirely clear where those four died or if it will have any bearing on their resurrection (Sinister is fine, he’s got another clone waiting for the Hellions on the Krakoan side of the Otherworld gate so he can shoot them before they tell anyone what happened). Also, Tarn survived, and it looks like he’s coming back to haunt this team of misfits in upcoming issues of Hellions.