We are getting close to the end with X Of Swords. Where we last left things Apocalypse and Annihilation were set for the final showdown in Saturnyne’s tournament after Krakoa and Arakko ended up tied 19 a piece. Now with both sides even there is even more on the line as Krakoa and Arakko have everything on the line with this final battle. The fact that Apocalypse and Annihilation, also known as Genesis, where once married makes this an even more personal battle. How will things turn out in this final match of Saturnyne’s X Of Swords tournament? Let’s find out with X-Men #15.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Krakoa Jean Grey finds Cyclops by a waterfall and informs him the Quiet Council are ready to meet. Cyclops and Jean talk about how Krakoa is everything that they have fought for and that now that something else is important on the line for them that it will not be surprising that they will continue to fight. Cyclops says it is time for them to get their son.
Cyclops and Jean then enter the gate to the Quiet Council meeting room.
Over at the Starlight Citadel in Otherworld, Saturnyne announces the combatants for the final match to be Apocalypse and Annihilation in a battle to the death. Apocalypse request Annihilation to remove her mask so he can fight Genesis. Genesis takes off her mask and turns back to normal. Apocalypse and Genesis then begin clashing swords.
Back at the Quiet Council meeting room, Jean explains to the Quiet Council how she and Cyclops learned from a brief telepathic conversation with Cable that they are losing in the tournament and Krakoa is at great risk. Magneto wonders what Jean and Cyclops propose they do. Cyclops says that they will assemble a strike team large enough to shake Otherworld to its foundation and bring their people back. He goes on to say that once they bring their people back they’ll close the gates until they figure out their next move.
Mister Sinister, Sebastian Stan, Magneto, and Exodus all speak on the dangers with this plan as their will be a major cost if it fails. Cyclops reminds the Quiet Council he has never failed them and there is nothing they can do to stop him. Jean, Kate Pryde, and Nightcrawler all volunteer to join Cyclops with this mission.
Sebastian Stan once again speaks up and says because of the dangers in Otherworld they cannot allow members of the Quiet Council to go on this mission. He then says that they should vote on if whoever on the Quiet Council joins Cyclops mission they lose their seat on the council. Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mister Sinister, Sebastian Stan, Mystique, and Exodus all vote in favor of this proposal.
While she is disappointed in this decision Jean says she is still going with Cyclops. Nightcrawler and Kate Pryde still say they will go with Cyclops and Jean. Cyclops reminds Kate of her problems with travelling through gates. Jean also tells Nightcrawler he is to important to the Quiet Council to leave his seat.
Emma Frost telepathically asks if Cyclops wants her to join. Cyclops says he would never ask her to risk her current standing and the money she brings in. Emma tells Cyclops she will still have the Stepford Cuckoos to join him.
Exodus and Mystique then bring up how they cannot afford to keep the gates open if Cyclops plan fails. So they propose another Quiet Council vote to close the gates after Cyclops team goes through it for their invasion of Otherworld. Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mister Sinister, Sebastian Stan, Mystique, and Exodus all vote in favor of this.
Charles Xavier apologizes to Cyclops for voting in favor of all this but says they don’t have the luxury of just thinking of one mutant anymore. Cyclops says he understands this but he was raised to know the difference between good and bad, which means knowing that the necessary evil angle has nothing to do with that. He goes on to say that while the Quiet Council are okay with risking a few lives to maintain what they’ve built just saying that leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
As Cyclops says this we see Apocalypse and Genesis having a brutal back and forth fight.
Back at the meeting, Cyclops says that Quiet Council was formed to be the government of Krakoa. He then says the X-Men are heroes and they will save those in need of saving, whatever the cost may be. Cyclops and Jean then leave together.
Magneto tells Charles Xavier that Cyclops is a good boy, which leaves Xavier with a smile on his face.
Back at the Starlight Citadel, Genesis breaks Apocalypses sword in half. Even with his sword broken Apocalypse does not yield. Instead he is able to block Genesis strike and slashes her in the gut with her own sword.
As she bleeds out Genesis tells Apocalypse to finish her. Apocalypse tells Saturnyne he won’t go through with killing Genesis. Saturnyne says she does not care what Apocalypse wants as there must be a victor in this match.
The Annihilation mask starts speaking to Genesis to put it on her. Genesis tries to resist but the Annihilation mask power is to great and she puts it on. Annihilation is once again in control of Genesis and proclaims that she is not dead so things are far from over. End of issue.
The Good: Now this is more like it. After 19 issues of Krakoa doing nothing but being satisfied with their champions going to Otherworld without concern we see someone step up to tell the Quiet Council how dumb that is. This has been a long time coming in this crossover and Jonathan Hickman chose the right characters in Cyclops and Jean Grey to tell the Quiet Council this.
While Cyclops has held the title of Captain of Captains, a position that gives him similar powers within Krakoa’s structure as the Quiet Council members, he has largely played a supporting role in the Dawn of X era for the franchise. He has had a few issues here and there in the main X-Men series to be in the spotlight but he has largely stepped aside as other Quiet Council members and mutants have had more of a starring role in the X-Men comics.
Now Hickman changes all of that by having Cyclops, alongside Jean Grey, be the one to step up to the Quiet Council for their lack of action while Krakoa’s champions risk their lives in Otherworld. Adding in the motivation that one of the mutants at risk is their son Cable makes you understand why Cyclops and Jean Grey are so motivated during this talk with the Quiet Council. They have both work just as hard to make Krakoa a safe place for not just mutants but their family as well. And as parents they cannot stand on the sidelines while their son risks his life. In the process Hickman once again gets to highlight how within Krakoa’s structure the Summers Family is a powerful force because they are a united unit.
Throughout this meeting Hickman does a great job never having Cyclops or Jean Grey back down even when Sebastian Stan, Exodus, Mystique, or Mister Sinister speak up on how they are against their plan. They were both committed to the decision to lead a strike force to save everyone in Otherworld. Having such strong convictions against opposition made Cyclops and Jean Grey stronger characters because you believed they can be successful.
At the same time, Hickman makes sure to show that Cyclops and Jean Grey did not come to this decision without thinking. We see that with how after the Quiet Council vote that any member of the council that joins Cyclops would lose their seat. Cyclops and Jean Grey immediately knew what this meant and were able to come up with ways so that they don’t lose power within the council by convincing Nightcrawler, Kate Pryde, and Emma Frost to not join them. They know all three members are needed on the Quiet Council since they would be losing their power within the Krakoa’s government structure. Its good long term thinking in the face of strong opposition doing such last minute voting.
Positioning Sebastian Stan, Exodus, Mystique, and Mister Sinister as antagonist during this meeting made the statement about Cyclops bringing the X-Men back into the fold even more powerful. Cyclops makes it clear that the whole necessary evil route the Quite Council work with does not work for him. Being trained to lead Cyclops has grown to see things on the spectrum of good and evil. Having him bring this fact up was a great way to re-establish how Charles Xavier’s originally trained the X-Men be seen as a superhero force like the Avengers and Fantastic Four. This also reinforced why Cyclops was dead set on saving everyone in Otherworld because he knows that is the right thing to do.
All of this firmly reestablishes the fact that at the end of the day Cyclops is the X-Men franchise’s Captain America. Both Captain America and Cyclops are characters that if the status quo calls for it they can take on the role Charles Xavier and Nick Fury usually have. But while they can do that job their strengths are as leaders who everyone rallies behind to save the day from whatever threat may appear. Hickman highlights all of this by the fact Cyclops makes it clear he is just doing this meeting out of a respect for the Quiet Council. But even if he has that respect Cyclops leadership and superhero instincts are way to strong to let his family, friends, and fellow mutants risk their lives while he stands on the sidelines.
The cherry on top of all this was the fact that we do see that both Charles Xavier and Magneto have a sense of pride in the fact that Cyclops and Jean Grey did not back down whatsoever. Even if they both voted against them they only did so because of the bigger picture of Krakoa as a nation in mind. But while that is a fact you can sense how much pride Charles Xavier in particular had in Cyclops along with Jean Grey standing their ground.
In the process of reestablishing the X-Men as a superhero team Hickman does a great job adding details to why Cyclops and Jean Grey’s decision is such an important one. As we see with one of the Quiet Council in the X-Men #15 we learn why we haven’t seen the term X-Men used since House of X and Powers of X. Learning that the Quiet Council came to the decision that they had to do away with the term X-Men because too many people used in as a replacement to the identification of mutant is something we see with fans, myself included. With how we see the Quiet Council act with the bigger picture in mind with all their decisions this is not surprising. Which makes the fact that Cyclops proudly proclaims the X-Men are needed as a superhero force such an interesting turn as it could lead to bigger things down the road. We already get hints of that with how we are seeing the X-Men popping up in other non-X-Men comic books like King In Black in the future.
With all of this going down in X-Men #15 Mahmud Asrar does a solid job getting across how serious the conversation between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and the Quiet Council was. There was genuine tension in the air and that is thanks to Asrar bringing that energy to the story with his artwork. Asrar does a particularly good job giving Cyclops an aura of leadership as he makes it clear what he was going to do with or without the Quiet Council’s approval. He also does a good job in showing us how brutal the fight between Apocalypse and Genesis in the brief scenes we get a look into their match.
The Bad: The one spot where X-Men #15 does not hit is with the fight between Apocalypse and Genesis. The entire fight felt secondary to the story in X-Men #15. Given the stakes of this final match in the tournament that X Of Swords has revolved around that unacceptable. This fight should come across to the reader that there will be major consequences to how things will end.
That just never ends up happening. Instead the fight between Apocalypse and Genesis just comes across as an excuse to have some action inserted into the dialogue heavy scenes involving the Quiet Council. For what the entire X Of Swords crossover revolves around having the main plot feel secondary should not be the reality. Which all goes back to how this entire tournament that X Of Swords is centered on hasn’t had the impact that it should have since we got to the second half of the crossover.
Overall: X-Men #15 is the chapter that X Of Swords was in dire need of. Jonathan Hickman does a fantastic job having Cyclops and Jean Grey step up to show that the X-Men will not stand on the sidelines while Krakoa’s champions risk their lives for them. The whole meeting with the Quiet Council set a strong tone for the final two chapters having major stakes as everything is on the line as we reach the end of X Of Swords.
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