It's all over my friends. The battles are finished, the dinners have been eaten, the marriages are finalized, and to the victor go the spoils. I know that some have complained about the length of this event and all the issues that it covered, but for me this event was more hit than miss. I decided that I would wrap up my feelings on this event by breaking it down into several sections for you. We will cover Deaths, Twists, Fights, and the Future of the Hickman universe. If that sounds good to you, then buckle up and let's talk X of Swords one last time!
DEATHS (score 6/10)
Maybe it's the bloodthirsty Wolverine fan in me, but I am always looking for events in comics to include significant deaths of characters. This is the area of X of Swords that was probably most disappointing to me. I wanted a more aggressive finale that would shuffle the tarot deck for our heroes. My hope was that Hickman would use this event to trim the fat off the mutant universe a little and recreate a few of the lesser characters for the future. Sadly, they chose a more conventional route, as best as I could tell, and only a few characters died.
We did get a few great deaths. Gorgon's fight at the end of Cable #6 was probably my personal favorite. I never really knew this character before reading X of Swords and yet during this event I started to really enjoy his manner. His battle versus the White Sword was one of my favorites and the ending was perfect. I loved the way Apocalypse said "That is how a mutant dies, children", as if it were a badge of great honor.
Some characters died and I think they will return much as they were originally. In particular, I am referring to Betsy Braddock. Even when she 'died' I got the feeling it wasn't for the long term. It was hard to tell in the chaos of the final issue but the Captain Britain Corps returned without Betsy. It would seem that she is 'still dead'. Even the Hickman info dump at the end of X of Swords: Destruction lists her as 'unaccounted for'. I get the feeling that she will return rather quickly, but only time will tell. If she really died then I will upgrade my review of this event, since that's a bold decision. For now, I think it feels weak because I think they will backtrack the choice quickly.
TWISTS (score 9/10)
This is an area where Hickman and his team really hit a homerun for me. The moment when Cypher married Bei I knew this comic could go anywhere at any time. Some of the twists were better than others for sure. The journey of Mr. Sinister's team to Otherworld was one of my favorites. I have been completely convinced that I need to read Hellions from here on out after these three issues. This is a perfect example of how to execute a fantastic tie-in to an event comic. It was very pivotal yet also wasn't necessary to the bigger issues, which could be read independently.
Or how about the ways in which Hickman used Wolverine? Fire Guy Ryan (who is reading this while editing it, thanks buddy) [editor's note: I'M ALWAYS WATCHING...] would be pleasantly surprised to see how Hickman pitted Wolverine in battles again and again only to ensure that he never won. Not even once. He went and battled Summoner to the death in a fight where dying meant winning so the point went to Arakko and not our mutants when Wolverine didn't die. Then he replaced Solem in his duel (owing to a debt in a previous issue of Wolverine). This meant that when Wolverine beat War in that fight, the point went to the Arakko team instead of our mutants yet again. Wolvie was pitted in catwalk competitions, temptations from sirens, and he even had to stare down all the enemies he's killed throughout his life (in a sequence that reminded me of Harry Potter looking in the Mirror of Erised). I thought all of this was a great way to use the character and twist his ability to always survive into a flaw that hurt his own team. In every case, Wolverine failed to score points to help his side and that was a stunning twist of events.
The only reason this isn't a 10 out of 10 for me is the simple fact that the 'big reveal' that Apocalypse's wife was not only alive, but also the villain behind the golden mask, felt obvious. That was a twist that didn't have any shock value whatsoever for me. I also felt that the turning of Isca (which I was happy to see I called correctly) wasn't as powerful or exciting as it could've been. I wanted something bigger from both of these twists and they fell a little flat for me.
FIGHTS (score 9/10)
I reread the fight between Storm and Death probably 4 times. That's exactly what I had been hoping to get from X of Swords. Several times in this event, Hickman played with our expectations by avoiding a drawn-out fight scene and instead giving us something wildly unexpected (watching Magik get eaten only to come out of Pogg with a tiny little Pogg from inside of the Aligator beast, is what I'm talking about here). However, when he DID give us a fight, it was something fun to behold. Storm danced with death and, like something out of Greek mythology, she defeated him in creative style.
Also the many Wolverine fights I mentioned before were thrilling to behold. Great artwork, and the panels led into one another with a lot of excitement and intensity. In particular, the battles in Wolverine #7 were stunning. The look of Blightspoke (a land of shifted and collapsing realities) was very creative and the panels in that fight were gorgeous.
Some fights were less impressive and ended too soon for my taste. Yet again I will highlight the fact that the death of Betsy Braddock was very anti-climactic for me. I felt like the battle was very short and her overall story had many missing pieces for me. Between her 'death' and the 'death' of Jubilee (which I still don't fully understand) Excalibur contributed some of the weakest parts of this event.
Overall I appreciated that Hickman was less interested in the sword fights that everyone was thinking they would get, and more interested in stretching the understanding of these characters by placing them in very challenging situations. This meant we had fewer fights and shorter ones when they did happen, but it also meant for more comedy and a sense that almost anything could happen at any time.
I also need to mention the final one on one fight between Genesis and Apocalypse. It was epic and to see the golden mask of Annihilation take over when she lost was cool. It meant an all-out battle raged (one that was beautifully rendered) and Apocalypse would need to rip the mask from his beloved's face and wear it for himself. This was the only way for our side to win. He needed to take ownership of the mask and surrender for his wife's sake. I loved that sequence a lot.
FUTURE (score 8/10)
This is the most challenging area to grade since it's hard to guess where this could all be headed in the future. The truth is that predicting what Hickman will do is a futile game. Clearly most of my predictions for this event proved false. But I will say that I liked how this event built on the origins of Apocalypse and made him a top tier villain in the mutant universe again.
Apocalypse will be a big factor in the long term of this event. Lady Saturnyne forced the two sides to exchange one citizen from each side. This person would be forced to live in the other team's realm. Genesis (his wife) chose Apocalypse to join her in Amneth. He agreed and chose the island of Arakko to join our mutants as the two islands could be reunited again completely. This will play a big part in the future, although I doubt Hickman is planning to use Apocalypse again during his time running the show. I think he is letting that story go for now and it's likely another writer will get that shot down the road.
Excalibur and X-Factor will be important books in picking up the pieces from this event. I will be following most of that as well. We will see how resurrection will work with those who died in Otherworld (I feel like we never got a great sense of who might've died in that big battle). I also know that young Cable will be moving on to join a newly formed S.W.O.R.D. team in the near future. I will probably skip that one since I am not a big fan of that character so far.
The big news is the coming of the REIGN of X! We started with House and Powers, then we moved through Dawn and Swords. Now, we are entering the final act in the Hickman X Universe: Reign of X. I see a lot of people dissecting the poster that was published online and I am excited for all of it. I hope you'll join me here, every so often, for the chance to discuss the current state of the mutants of Marvel.
Overall I would give this event an 8.5/10 and I look forward to more from Hickman in the mutant world. What are your thoughts on X of Swords? Did you expect more action or more twists? Are you upset? Leave me some comments and let me know! Here's an eBay affiliate link, as usual, if you want to hunt for some Hickman keys AND support this blog at the same time.
Thanks for taking the time to hang out and I hope to see you back here again every Friday for more BLOG of X!!! If you want to get more from the John's Comics with Kids squad just watch for us on Instagram and YouTube.