The tournament of champions finally kicked off in Excalibur #14. Now after two matches in the books the score is 2-1 with Arakko in the lead. The way that Arakko gained the leads has created a lot of questions as to the nature of this tournament of champions that Saturnyne has set-up. Both matches were extremely different and set the tone that this won’t be a straight up fight between all the Swordbearers of Arakko and Krakoa. Because of that there is no telling what Saturnyne has in store for all the competitors next. Let’s find out with Wolverine #7.
Writers: Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Magik goes to the Holy Republic of Fae where she will be having her tournament match. When she enters the arena she ends up in a world that is upside down. That does not bother her as she is ready to fight her opponent: Pogg Ur-Pogg.
Before any fighting can start Saturnyne announces that Magik and Pogg Ur-Pogg’s match will be an arm wrestling match. Before Saturnyne can finish her countdown Pogg Ur-Pogg slams Magik’s arm down. Saturnyne then declares that Arakko is now up 3 to 1.
Later Wolverine appears in Blightspoke, a place where realities are constantly collapsing, and immediately looks for Summoner. Summoner suddenly drags Wolverine underground as Saturnyne announces their fight will be battle to the death.
As Wolverine and Summoner have their fight they are thrown through different realities. In all the realities they go to they are both altered biologically throughout their fight. Eventually Wolverine is able to find an opening to throw his Muramasa Blade straight through Summoner’s head.
With Summoner dead Saturnyne declares that Arkanno has received another point since the match winner was the one who died.
With Krakoa down 4 to 1 Saturnyne teleports Wolverine to a bar where a match between Wolverine and Storm will take place. The match turns out to be a drinking contest with Krakoa getting a point whether Wolverine or Storm win. Storm gets Wolverine to play along and they get drunk as they go through a special alcohol bottle the bartender prepared for them. As they drink the bartender is then shown to be making some deal with Death.
As that goes on Saturnyne also sets up a fight between War and Solem. Before they fight Solem says he has other plans and requests she summon Wolverine to the arena.
A drunk Wolverine suddenly appears. Solem reminds Wolverine that when he helped Wolverine reclaim his sword he was promised a fight. Solem then says that while he knows War wants revenge for her husbands death but she likely wants to kill Wolverine more since he killed her son. Wolverine is shocked that Summoner was War’s son, which pisses of War when she learns that is true.
Saturnyne then announces that Wolverine and War’s fight will end when one of them severs an appendage.
War angrily slashes Wolverines with her Vermilion the Red Sword of War. As War dominates the fight Saturnyne mocks Wolverine for how he is fighting. Pinned down Wolverine uses his claws to severe one of War’s hands.
Since War is the one that lost an appendage Saturnyne awards Arakko another point, giving Arkanno a 5 to 2 lead over Krakoa. At the same time Wolverine demands someone remove the Vermilion the Red Sword of War from his neck. End of issue.
The Good: Wolverine #7 took everything that Excalibur #14 established with how random the tournament and took it to the next level. Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan did that by adding more of a personal feel to how they had Wolverine take part in three different matches throughout this issue. Having Wolverine be that running thread made the overall impact the tournament is set up to have hit much better than in recent chapters.
One of the things that was missing from the first two matches of the tournament in X of Swords is a feeling that the heroes and villains were in a fight for their lives. Even when Captain Britain ended up dying in her match it did not have the impact you expect with how quickly we moved on from it. That was not the case for Wolverine #7 as Percy and Duggan had each match in this tournament build on one another. Which is where having Wolverine be the focal point for the three of the four matches helped get over
The fight between Wolverine and Summoner did a great job getting over how each of the matches will have a different setting. That is something we saw with Magik, Captain Britain, and Cypher’s matches. But that was really emphasized with Wolverine and Summoner’s match as they were given the reality warping setting of Blightspoke. Seeing both combatants traveling through realities where their biology were constantly changing added tension to the fight. It made Wolverine’s decision to end the fight by just throwing his Muramasa Blade through Summoner’s head a move that worked extremely well.
The fact that while Wolverine was the survivor of the fight and still lost the match was yet another reminder of how Saturnyne has stacked the deck against the X-Men. What makes this work is how Saturnyne continues to phrase the way she announces what the matches will be about. As we get more matches in this X of Swords tournament it is clear that Saturnyne has set things up to get the results she wants. That is especially the case with Wolverine, who she knew would fight both Summoner and War with his survival instincts would kick in when backed into a corner.
Which made the way Saturnyne structured the matches that Wolverine took part of interesting. Each match was made to so Saturnyne could take ultimate pleasure in getting her revenge over Wolverine’s attempt at her life. Using the mother-son relationship between War and Summoner in particular added a nice personal stake once their relationship was revealed. War’s genuine anger when learning that Wolverine killed her son gave their fight a different feel to what we saw before.
It was also interesting to see that Percy and Duggan played into how Solem helped Wolverine retrieve the Murasama Blade in the lead up to the tournament. This build anticipation for a possible fight between Solem and Wolverine, since the latter will likely want revenge on the former for how he manipulated things. The addition of War to this rivalry between Wolverine and Solem could be an interesting wrinkle if that match-up ends up taking place in X of Swords.
Joshua Cassara stepped up big with how much work he had to do to get over how this tournament in X of Swords has so many different settings. That was best shown with how Cassara drew all the different realities that Wolverine and Summoner went through in Blightspoke. Not only where the settings unique but Cassara worked in changes to Wolverine and Summoner’s design to get over how Blightspoke was a weird place that took us across reality. That all carried over well to how Cassara made the fight between Wolverine and War come across as a brutal fight between sword masters.
The Bad: As with previous chapters of X of Sword, Wolverine #7 falters in how the X-Men are coming across as complete amateurs. The way the X-Men are approaching the fights makes them look like they aren’t taking the results as seriously as they should. We see that with how the losses Magik and Captain Britain suffer don’t add a sense of urgency to the other Krakoan champions.
We see that with how Wolverine and Storm simply enjoy themselves with the drinking contest their match turned out to be. With Saturnyne staking the deck against them there is an expectation that the X-Men would take things more seriously. Instead the opposite ends up being the case. Which makes the stakes of the tournament that X of Swords has feel small since our heroes aren’t being shown to take things seriously.
With 16 chapters of X of Swords in the books this is something that is completely unacceptable. The X-Men should be shown doing more to actually show that they want to win this tournament and protect Earth. There has been enough time to build that sense of competency in the X-Men side of things. Hopefully the remaining chapters in X of Swords fixes this massive problem in the crossover.
Overall: While Wolverine #7 does not fix the bigger picture problems that X of Swords is having it did do a great job getting over how Saturnyne has stacked the deck against the X-Men. The four different matches that we get in Wolverine #7 showed a randomness that has placed the X-Men against the wall. Having Wolverine be the focal point of three of these matches made the narrative in this chapter for X of Swords have an engaging character focus story.
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