After setting the stage for the latest X-Men event in X of Swords: Creation the last three chapters of the story have been about who will be the 10 champions of Krakoa that will face Arakko’s champions. We saw with X-Factor #4, Wolverine #6, and X-Force #13 that two of Krakoa’s champions are Magik and Wolverine. Logan journey to reclaim his sword, Muramasa Blade, was stretched out as he was the focus of Wolverine and X-Force. Hopefully the journey for all the champions isn’t what X of Swords becomes as there is so much in this story with Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen and Arakko that we have to learn. Let’s see how the next champion’s journey goes with Marauders #13
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In one of Krakoa’s gardens Kate Pryde finds Storm contemplating what her next move should do as she is one of Krakoa’s champions. Storm admits she isn’t sure about going through with what she must because it will at least cause heartache and strife. Kate offers to go with her but Storm says this is something she has to do on her own.
Storm then recollects the story of the Skybreaker, a sword that was created by the first Wakandan King out of a metal from a sacred mountain that was struck by lightning a long time ago. She goes on to think how Skybreaker has been passed down to each successive Wakandan ruler and it is what help lead the country to prosper.
Sometime later, Storm meets with Queen Ramoda and Princess Shuri in Wakanda. While they are happy to see each other again Storm reveals what is going on with the threat of army of Arakko and how she has been chosen as one of Krakoa’s champions to combat them. Queen Ramoda and Shuri offer Wakanda’s army to help fight Arakko.
Storm says while she is grateful for the offer only the ten champions with their swords can fight Arakko which is why she is there to ask for the Skybreaker sword. Queen Ramoda says that the Skybreaker can only be wielded by Wakanda’s official ruler, who currently is her son T’Challa. While Storm is in a rush Queen Ramoda asks her to wait in Wakanda as their guest until T’Challa returns to talk about this further.
Later that night Shuri visits Storm in her room so they can have dinner as sisters. As they eat and talk Shuri opens up about how if Storm is given or takes the Skybreaker that it will be used by opposing forces within Wakanda to incite a revolt. Storm understands this but says that the threat from Otherworld is bigger than any good intentions or political alliance.
Shuri then brings up how Krakoa has been acting like they can take what they want or wrestle economic control from other countries with their cure-all flowers. Storm wonders if Shuri is saying this because this is how she feels about mutants. Shuri says it is not because while they haven’t signed a treaty with Krakoa that mutants are welcome to be free on Wakanda at any time but just wanted to highlight what taking Skybreaker would mean.
Storm brings up how T’Challa has ignored her calls for help even though before being an X-Men she was a Goddess who knows the weight of sacrifice and suffering which is why she knows what she must do. Shuri apologizes as she didn’t mean to antagonize Storm. Shuri then says that while she still loves Storm as a sister she has a duty to protect the people of Wakanda. They both come to an understanding and wish each other goodnight by saying goodbye.
Now that she is alone Storm takes out her black stealth suit and puts it on. She then heads over to the Temple of the Heart of Wakanda.
As she heads there, Storm remembers what T’Challa about the Skybreaker being housed in the temple and being heavily guarded all around.
Storm uses this knowledge in combination with her powers to shut off the security system which gives her 30 minutes to enter. In those 30 minutes Storm goes about taking out the guards patrolling the temple.
When she reaches where the Skybreaker is she gets ready to switch it out with a fake she had on her. Before making the switch Shuri stops her with her blasters. Shuri says she suspected Storm would not wait for her brother’s return.
Storm and Shuri start brawling. As they trade blows Storm and Shuri go back-and-forth arguing what is at stake for each of them. It eventually comes down to a sword fight with Shuri gaining the advantage. Shuri says that she is taking Storm to speak with her brother. Not having time for that Storm sends a lightning bolt through Shuri’s sword to knock her out.
Storm then takes Skybreaker and changes it out with the fake in order to give herself more time to escape before a full lockdown in the temple. Just as she reaches the exit the lockdown is fully initiated and immediately closes the exit in front of her. Storm uses her powers to blow a hole in the exit. But before she can leave several panther sentries rush at her. Not waiting time Storm combines her powers with Skybreaker to take out the sentries.
As Storm is reaches the Krakoa portal in Wakanda, T’Challas as the Black Panther appears in front of her with several guards behind him. T’Challa asks Storm why she is doing all of this. Storm says it is for her people. T’Challa says he remembers a time Wakandans were her people. Storm says she is not going to be ordered around by him and asks T’Challa to stand aside.
T’Challa tells his guards to stand down and then steps aside for Storm believing that she would not be doing any of this if she did not have good intentions.
As Storm walks to enter the portal T’Challa says they could’ve done this together as he would do anything for her. Storm says what she is doing is bigger than Wakanda or Krakoa so she could not wait for him to decide that.
After Storm leaves T’Challa orders for the destruction of the Krakoan portal in Wakanda. He goes on to say if Krakoa wishes to return it will only be with Wakanda’s permission.
Later, Storm goes to where the casting circle is. Kate asks if it was what Storm expected. Storm says it was worse because while they didn’t lose allies there will be work to be done to regain the trust. Storm goes on to say this does not change her knowing who she is.
Storm then places the Skybreaker on her symbol in the casting circle. Wolverine and Magik welcome Storm to the group. End of issue.
The Good: With how long of an event that X of Swords is going with dedicating story time to develop Krakoa’s champions could be a mix bag. We saw that with how Wolverine’s journey was structured. That was not the case with Storm’s spotlight in Marauders #13 as Vita Ayala just knocked it out of the park of getting her over as a champion.
What made Marauders #13 such a strong read was the fact that Ayala played directly into all of Storm’s history in the Marvel Universe. Like Wolverine, Storm is a character whose history that is not all tied to being an X-Men. She has a long history before joining the X-Men as a Goddess to her people and serving time as Queen of Wakanda when she married Black Panther. Ayala revisiting all of these touchstones to Storm’s character for her journey for her own sword as champion of Krakoa was a strong choice.
Making it all better was how Ayala did not shy away from placing great stakes at the decision that Storm was making to claim the Skybreaker sword. All of the history for where Skybreaker comes from and what it means for the Wakanda people gave weight to the entire that extends beyond the X of Swords event. In doing so Marauders #13 is also able to touch on the greater political structure of the world that Krakoa has been part of since becoming a nation. Tapping into all of that created a multi-layered story that all revolved around Storm and her choices throughout this issue.
Storm trying taking a political approach to how she spoke with Queen Ramoda and Shuri was well handled. It showed an understanding of Storm’s history with Wakanda and Black Panther that Ayala came into this story while writing it. All of the dialogue was written in a way that showed a strong family bond still existing between Storm, Queen Ramoda, and Shuri. Even though Wakanda has gone through an elevated profile since the time Ororo and T’Challa were married the connect Storm has is not gone.
Which made the back-and-forth the three have in the first half of Marauders #13 such a fascinating read. Ayala was able to balance strong emotions of a family dynamic with the politics around Storm’s request for the Skybreaker sword. It’s a delicate balance that really got over how the impact of X of Swords is not just another X-Men crossover. There are real ramifications to the choices that will be made that the X-Men will all have to deal with once X of Swords is over.
The conversation over dinner between Storm and Shuri was equally as impactful. Just like the earlier scene in the throne room, there was a clear sisterhood between Storm and Shuri that they were each trying to play to. What made this entire scene better is that Ayala made each position something you understand. Neither character was set-up as a bad person. Rather, Storm and Shuri just find themselves on the opposing side to one another as they each were trying to resolve things peacefully.
Having this dinner scene was great set-up for how personal the fight that broke out between Storm and Shuri was inside the Temple of the Heart of Wakanda. Even though they were fighting seriously throughout it was also easy to see how they each held back. The way they talked during the fight showed that there was the slight hesitation from both, which kept them from going all out.
This fight with Shuri was also put over how Storm isn’t powerful just because she is an Omega-level mutant. Storm has hand-to-hand fighting talent that has allowed her to fight without her powers against the best of them. Combining how she used her powers in conjunction with the Skybreaker and thief skills positioned Storm as one of the strongest champions for X of Swords.
The scene between Black Panther and Storm was strong way to conclude Ororo’s journey as Krakoa’s champion in Wakanda. Just like with the scenes with Queen Ramoda and Shuri, Ayala packed this back and for between T’Challa and Ororo with emotion that was built on their history with each other. There didn’t need to be big references to all they’ve been through together. Instead they both spoke from the heart which made the reason why T’Challa decided to let Ororo go an even more impactful decision. That along with T’Challa’s declaration that Krakoa will have to ask for permission to come to Wakanda next time set-up a rich amount of story potential after X of Swords is over.
Further elevating all the material was all the great artwork from Matteo Lolli. The art does a wonderful job showing us how heavy of a weight the decisions Storm has to make to claim the Skybreaker are. All the conversations and fights have an emotional weight to them. There is a great flow to it all as Lolli knows when to zoom into a character’s face for a panel to get over what they are saying.
The choice for Storm to start out with her iconic white costume when talking to Queen Ramoda and Shuri and then changing into her black costume and putting her hair into a bun was great. It gave Storm a completely different feel when sporting each one. With the white costume we saw Storm as a diplomat talking to others on equal grounds. While with the black costume Storm was in full thief mode only being seen when she unleashed her powers. That all worked because of how Lolli drew and Edgar Delgado colored those scenes.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Marauders #13 is the strongest chapter in the X of Swords crossover that we’ve gotten so far. Vita Ayala and Matteo Lolli did not disappoint in spotlighting Storm’s journey to claim her sword as one of Krakoa’s champions. Bringing in Wakanda as key to the story gave greater emotional weight to the decisions that Storm had to make. It all positioned Storm to be a powerful champion as X of Swords continues to develop.
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