WOW! If you read the X of Swords issues this week, you might be needing some time to recover from the wild ride you just enjoyed. I don't know about you, but it instantly made me want to better understand Lady Opal Luna Saturnyne, the epic manipulator behind this entire event. She seemed to be a referee or hostess to these game until now, but I believe she has been revealed as the true hero/villain of these series (depending on how this all turns out, of course).
She flipped the script on many of our heroes this week in several unexpected ways that made me wonder what it is she's really trying to accomplish with this tournament. To better understand what she is trying to do here I decided to dive into her history a little and see what I could find. I have a couple of key books to add to your list as well as a few theories that might give us an idea as to where Hickman could be headed with this story. If that sounds good to you, then buckle up and join me for this discussion.
Lady Saturnyne first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #380 (Cameo) and 381 (first full appearance) back in the early 80s. She was just as deceitful and manipulative then as she is here. Often, writers seem to present her as a 'god-like' character who is playing with the lives of others like the Greek and Roman gods of old. Her powers of sorcery, and her ability to control much of the world around her, have never been fully explained. We know she has an important task to fulfill in protecting the universe, but beyond that she is quite a mystery.
Later, she would appear in many issues of Excalibur from the early 80s and into the 90s. As a foil to Captain Britain, and counterpart to Merlyn (sometimes spelled Merlin), she was a significant part of both the Otherworld, where the Captain Britain Corps would protect us from evil magic, and a protector of the Omniverse (the connection between all dimensions in the Marvel universe).
If you're thinking, 'Wow! How is it that I'm a huge Marvel fan but I know nothing about this seemingly HUGE character?' then I am right there with you. The truth is she hasn't strayed from her appearances in Excalibur much over the years. Aside from the odd two-issue arcs here and there, she really hasn't been a significant player in many stories, so it's no wonder some of us are trying to learn more about her. The most significant of these stories is probably the many Spider-Verse/Spider-Geddon events from recent years, where the Omniverse was threatened by the Inheritors. But even then, she's still a background player. Leave it to Jonathan Hickman to pluck an obscure character out of the past and make them a central part of a huge comic book event!
This all brings us to the latest issues in the X of Swords. WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!
The last few issues in the series have placed Lady Saturnyne right into the center of the conflict. She's been hosting a huge dinner party with all the combatants before their fights. The guests have been pushing one another's buttons, and Wolverine even attempted to kill Lady S herself! Thankfully, her ability to read minds and see into the future also allowed her to give Logan a view of what would happen if he succeeded in killing her. After his quick foray into the future he quickly changes his mind when she puts him back into his proper timeline.
That's when things really get interesting. So far every battle we have seen hasn't been anything like I expected. In almost every case, the battle we expect is short lived or completely undermines the expectation of sword fighting altogether. We've had two of the villains face off against one another (only to swap due to a debt that was owed). We had a battle where the winner is the person who dies?? We had Logan and Storm face off in a battle of who can drink more. We had our new Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) destroyed before she even stood a chance (although she didn't seem really dead to me). And the craziest of all was the arm-wrestling fight between Magik and Pogg (the huge alligator beast)...
All of which makes me think that Lady Saturnyne is playing a totally different game than all the others. Here are my thoughts: what if she knows that the X-Men have to lose in order for the contest to be completed correctly? She's really just fulfilling a need in resolving the separation between the two islands of Krakoa. I think she's rigging the game against our mutants so that she can resolve this dispute quickly, with minimal bloodshed. Then she can spring a trap that will eliminate the real threat, Apocalypse's wife Genesis. If Lady S can make it so that the true champion of this event, Isca the Unbeaten, switches sides afterwards, then she will get exactly what she wants: an exciting tournament, the chance to torture our heroes, the reunion of the islands, and the death of Genesis.
Why is Isca the true champion? Because her mutant ability is that she can't ever lose. Not in anything ever. We watched her play all sorts of silly games at the fancy dinner where our heroes tested her in everything from cup stacking to pin the tail on Pogg and she has proven herself to be unbeatable. I think she will be a very important figure moving forward. Either she will switch sides OR she will finally taste defeat somehow.
What are your thoughts on these most recent wacky issues? Did you expect more action? I definitely did. Are you upset? I haven't been upset so far. 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.