It begins! The 60+ page “Creation” kickoff to X-Men: X of Swords is here, marking the epic beginning to the 22 part X-Men event of 2020. The launch book is fantastic, effectively a Lord of the Rings for the Krakoa era of X-Men, with plenty to dig into.
Today I’ll answer:
- How does Creation kick off Ten of Swords, and what do we learn about the event?
- What major or minor revelations are given, and what X-Men characters are most impacted?
- What are the secrets of Otherworld and S.W.O.R.D.?
- Theories and predictions for what’s to come!
Writer: Jonathan Hickman & Tini Howard
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Related Reading Orders:
Video Script Notes!
We open with the first horsemen pounding on the gates of Otherworld, approaching the Starlight Citadel, on their ultimate march to Krakoa. As we learned in X-Men #12 last week, these first horsemen are the children of Apocalypse, and have been trapped in the dimension of Amenth of generations. The first horsemen leading an assault on the tower of Del Di’Lorr. The speak exactly like Hickman’s East of West horsemen.
What is the Starlight Citadel? The Starlight Citadel is summarized nicely as “the most literal representation of the conjunction of all realities.” It is the nexus of all realities. As we’ve learned in the pages of Tini Howard’s Excalibur, the Citadel is without it’s customary Captain Britain Corps defense, which has left it to Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majistrex to protect the Citadel – and by proxy, reality.
Hickman’s back on his Wheels within Wheels grind here, a frequent refrain back in his work on Marvel’s Secret Warriors, and a decent metaphor for plots seeding plots and the constant motion of story found in his superhero work.
In Krakoa, Summoner comes busting through the External Gate on the back of a huge Demon, with a dying Banshee. It’s far from shocking that Apocalypse’s plan to send Banshee, Unus the Untouchable (poor Unus) and Summoner into Arakko alone came up wanting, and if you aren’t already getting Summoner skepticism at this point, you’re a little behind the curve my Krakoan pal.
This is generally applicable throughout the entire book, but DAMN do I love Pepe Lararz and Marte Gracia’s ability to bring demonic and supernatural creatures to life.
Apocalypse brings his schemes to the Quiet Council, and Krakoa acknowledges he gave Apoc approval for all this. Apocalypse doesn’t really have council approval for all this though, with Magneto in particular deeply questioning his actions. Again, Summoner giving us his account of what happened with no backup (banshee is in a coma in the healing gardens) should raise some eyebrows.
Small detail but weird that Professor X calls Apoc En Sabah Nur, and not his mutant name
For the most part, the Council is opposed to Apocalypse leaving the External gate open and maintain access to alternate realms (and in this case near direct access to the Starlight Citadel of Otherworld). As Kate points out – for the first time we’ve seen in a council meeting! – they still have access to Avalon.
I did also find it interesting here that the enemies of Krakoa that are named – Homines Verendi, The Flower Cartel, Xeno, and Orchis – leave out The Children of the Vault, who have been named the most dangerous threat to mutants by Professor X himself.
Hell yeah Krakoa: Council votes to destroy the External Gate since it leaves them vulnerable, but Krakoa tells Doug “You need to understand you are guests here. Our coexistence is collaborative and wonderful. It’s a union of shared interests, but I am the land. And the land is mine.“
This was actually something I brought up in the Live Krakin’ Krakoa X of Swords prediction party, but we have not gotten a lot of insight into how Krakoa feels about mutants! This is a great start.
Apocalypse has to gather volunteers, leading to an interesting hodgepodge team, which has been one of the more interesting components of Krakoa – since all the mutants are together all the time, the team’s are less standardized than they’ve been in the past.
The fellowship: Apocalypse, Summoner, Rockslide, Rictor, Siryn, Beast, Angel, Polaris, Havok, Monet
There’s a really nice quote about what’s coming for Apocalypse in “Memory is long. History is longer. And the truth will outlast both.“
One of the joys of the Dawn of X is given the scale of mutants that can be in any story, there are all kinds of long lasting relationships that still haven’t been explored more than a year into the Hickman era. One such is Angel and Apocalypse.
In the midst of this build-up, we have even more exciting news: We’re Hickman/Mueller mapping Otherworld baby! This is quite fun, and I think going to go a long way to making Excalibur even more interesting, as one detractor I’ve felt in that book is a chaotic sense of place as the Mutant team makes its way through the realm.
We’ve either seen most of these realms before, or find out some more info about the Otherworld Kingdoms in the next data pages in this issue, but the one real interesting callout is #13 – Mercator – Highlighted in blue.
Absalom Mercator, otherwise known as Mister M, is one of two Omega Level Mutants we still haven’t seen in the Dawn of X (the other is Legion), and that sure doesn’t seem like an accident. Mercator projection is also a whole school of cartography, which is an intriguing connection to this map of Otherworld, although I won’t pretend to understand maps literally at all – I can barely make it home from work without my GPS rolling.
The page that made me the happiest of anything in this entire comic comes from The Otherworld Kingdoms map where we’rehitting Otherworld history, and in particular the Alan Moore / Alan Davis Captain Britain work hard! In the span of one page on the Fair Courts and Foul Courts, we get The Fury, Mad Jim Jaspers, Roma, Merlyn
The main reason this is thrilling is I have a Krakin’ Krakoa coming this weekend (it’ll be Krakin’ Krakoa #95) on the Alan Moore and Alan Davis run on Captain Britain and it’s connections to the Hickman era of X-Men, and this data page cements that relevance in ways I yet again totally precogged.
So given I’m covering this in depth in another video, I’ll just say that these are all absolutely crucial, historical elements in the history of Otherworld and the pages of Captain Britain, with Jaspers and the Fury offering serious threats to mutantdom in the future. I’m also fascinated by the presence of Roma and Merlyn here, who I thought had fallen prior to Saturnyne’s ascension (in the past Opal Luna has effectively reported up to them, although now that relationship is inversed).
Apocalypse is genuinely emotional upon the sight of his long lost children, and I buy that this is actually a huge poignant moment for him. This is definitely the softest we’ve seen Apocalypse – and he pays for it – but honestly his arc through both Excalibur and X-Men has justified these feelings.
Of Genesis, the horsemen tell Big Daddy A: “Gone. Destroyed. She fell under the twilight blade.” If anything, this frankly confirms my theory – growing in size and strength – that Genesis and Annihilation are still actually the same person, and that the Summoner’s story was a ruse.
I still love my theory that Annihilation could be Rasputin. But again if we look back to the Genesis and Annihilation showdown in X-Men #12, and we consider what we know now about our pal Summoner, the changes that this story lies somewhere between half truth and metaphor is a distinct possibility.
Unsurprisingly, horsemen and Summoner stab apocalypse, in a sudden betrayal of their father and grandfather. We learn about the same time that Summoner betrayed Banshee and Unus (nobody touch poor sweet Unus!), not shocking there either!
While the story definitely sets us up to think this might be coming, the important thing here is that Apocalypse does not see it coming at all.
“I am a Summoner of many things… Most of all lies”
Really feel for Rockslides Arakkon chess game with Summoner.
Everything goes absolutely to hell for the Krakoan party
One aspect that goes overlooked throughout the series, and really throughout Excalibur to this point is just how powerful Saturnyne is in her domain of Otherworld, and as the ruler of protecting all realities. The comic’s opening quote supports her power, stating: “All I see, I own. And I am unsatisfied with the state of things.”
With a snap of her fingers Saturnyne freezes both Krakoan and Arrakan, and gets to have a conversation and set up the rest of the event on her own terms.
Saturnyne plays matchmaker setting up the duel between Arakko and Krakoa, after first flexing her power and turning Death into a cute lil wolf pup.
All the swords get named. On the X side of things we have
- Muramasa – Wolverine
- The Sword of Might – (Brian Braddock ?)
- The Starlight Sword – (Betsy Braddock ?)
- Grasscutter & Godkiller – Gorgon
- Warlock – Doug Ramsey
- The Soul Sword – Magik
- The Scarab – Apocalypse
- The Light of Galador – Cable
- Skybreaker – Storm
The items that most get my attention on the Amenth side are 1) The Twlight Blade – is this the same thing as the Twilight Sword Surtur has wieleded in Thor comics? 2) Pogg Ur-Pogg being both crocodile monster AND a sword himself, with the implication that the swords are wielding a Crocodile monster 3) Muramasa listed on both sides of the aisle! Marvel’s been teasing Solem as Wolverine’s new archenemy, and remember, Apocalypse talks of the God-like mutants he had to banish to Amenth. Solem could be of Earth before Wolverine, potentially an ancestor, wielding the same kind of blade.
If folks are interested in a Krakin’ Krakoa deep dive on the swords specifically, let me hear it in the comments, as most of them tend to have fairly interesting comics histories on their own.
As Cable and Rachel read Banshee’s mind for clues about what really happened, Saturnyne tells Cable / Rachel of something that can help. Scott knows what it is. My initial guess given AIM bodies is something with The World? But it appears to be more about space travel to specific space station.
Scott, Jean, Cable plunge Cable’s dope sword into a trans space teleportation platform, which powers up SWORD orbital space station.
Given the official confirmation of a S.W.O.R.D. ongoing by Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti (which, I will not for the last time, mention I totally called in my How Hickman’s X-Men Will Conquer the GalaXy video!), this is incredibly exciting.
Intriguingly, all we learn of the SWORD station at this point is that it’s like totally out of action.
So why would Saturnyne send them SWORD? Well, she’s corralling alien entities, perhaps that’s where answers lie? My guess here, would be contact made with the other faction of Arakko natives who took a different approach like Summoner mentioned in his story to Grandaddy A in X-Men #12.
Now, early in the oversized issue, we actually get a return to the 2020 Free Comic Book Day Tarot Card teasers. Reprint the X-Men FCBD pages of catching a star-beast in context of the event. Literally reprinting the FCBD pages in their entirity… kind of disappointed initially, but the text is completely different.
Importantly, too, The X-Office (of course) remembers there’s an original Hellion named Tarot! She does reading data pages! Tarot readers the world over – mutant and not – are pulling the same cards as Saturnyne.
In the original: Eight of Cups card presents two different women, with Genesis feeling disullionsment and abandonment, and Annihilation’s side reading “That which was once the harmonious lifting of voices is now a mocking echo-then silence.”
The updated reading of the card is recontextualized given what we know from the X-Men #12 prelude issue. “Someone’s heart has been left empty” “She has been waiting for something more. Will she turn away? Will she be turned away? A woman like this keeps her cup close.”
New theories? From Tini Howard interview, Tarot is another kind of sequential art. So I think the card readings are in the order they’ll occur in the event. Tarot’s own readings are very interesting.
The sequence of events:
- Judgment – “Final judgment and the rebirth of all in heaven.” A couple thoughts here – this could allude to the apocalypse they bring and the rebirth of Arakko mutants on Krakoa, and on our Earth-616. Looking at the talk of rebirth, the cover of X-Factor #4 (pt 2 of the event, signifies resurrection literally on fire), and the December solicits for X-Factor call resurrection into question.
- Four of Wands – Returning to something, with an image of the horsemen. “The Xorn brothers would consider four quite an inauspicious number” – In Chinese numerology, the number 4 is considered unlucky because it is extremely similar to their word for “death”
- The Hanged Man – Kill Your Darlings. Apocalypse. Beast’s sacrifice. Rockslide is certainly imperiled. Rictor would be the sweetheart to Apocalypse.
- Eight of Cups. Genesis/Annihilation. Feels like she’s already decided!
- Ten of Swords. The worst pain you have ever felt and then you will feel it no more. I think something is going to change the availability / resurrection process. Apocalypse is going to come back without these memories. Will that mean the loss of him as a Krakoan ally?
Next Time: The Krakoan Reads – A New Death