Finally after 21 chapters built it up we are in the 22nd and final chapter of the latest X-Men crossover that took the form of X Of Swords. With things not look great for Krakoa after the results of the tournament went against them the mutants final hope rest in the newly brought back X-Men. Can the mutant heroes save all the champions from meeting their end in Otherworld? Or are things to far gone for there to be no hope left in turning things around? Let’s find out with X Of Swords: Destruction #1.
Writers: Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
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: At the Starlight Citadel in Otherworld, Saturnyne draws the final tarot card that predicts the outcome of recent events between Krakoa and Arakko, which shows the return of the Captain Britain Corps.
As she reveals that card the Captain Britain Corps show up in Otherworld to back-up Krakoa’s champions against Annihilations forces. Annihilation immediately makes her power known and shuts down the Captain Britain Corps counter by having War use having the Summoner clones to bring Famine and Pestilence to Otherworld with their forces.
At the Starlight Citadel Cable asks Saturnyne isn’t stopping any of this. Saturnyne says because all of this has been preordained and that cannot be denied.
Cable contacts his dad and Cyclops tells his son they are on his way.
Inside Peak VII (S.W.O.R.D’s former satellite headquarters) Cyclops, with Jean Grey and Stepford Cuckoos help, is able to contact Magik to tell her to open a gate for all of them to reach Otherworld. Magik immediately opens a portal large enough to bring Peak into Otherworld.
Before leaving Peak VII, Cyclops tells all of the assembled X-Men that no one should hold back as they will do everything to win. Cyclops then tells Jean to take the lead.
Jean then leads all of the X-Men out of Peak VII as she yells out “To me my X-Men!” The X-Men are immediately able to turn the tide against Annihilation and the First Horsemens forces.
As that happens Apocalypse continues to try to reason with Genesis inside of Annihilation that surrendering is not the same as losing and that he can make them whole again. Annihilation fully takes over Genesis and orders Summoner to bring every beast and demon to Otherworld.
At the Starlight Citadel Cable sees all of this fighting and can’t shake the belief that they are losing. Saturnyne calls Cable a fool for not remembering that the item he has is holding is not a sword. Cable suddenly realizes that the Light of Galador was the key to power on the S.W.O.R.D base. He immediately calls Magik, Cyclops, and Jean to come get him.
After grabbing Cable, Magik teleports them to the S.W.O.R.D station and with Cyclops help Cable powers the station back on and opens the portal that lets the horde of Vescora the immediately pour out. Jean quickly has Magik open another portal to the Summoners location so the Vescora can tear them all apart.
Annihilation sees the Vescora and kills several of them with one swing of her scythe. This gives Apocalypse the opening to pin Annihilation down and remove its mask from Genesis.
As Apocalypse struggles with the power of the Annihilation mask everyone that was fighting suddenly stops to watch the struggle. Apocalypse eventually puts on the Annihilation mask to become the new Annihilation.
After that the X-Men, the First Horsemen’s forces, and Vescora continue their fight.
Meanwhile Apocalypse fights off Annihlation’s attempt to gain complete control over him as his motivation to save his people drives him. Apocalypse then approaches a cliff to speak to Saturnyne. He gets down on one knee and as Apocalypse-Annihilation he declares his surrender.
Saturnyne gets on the Shogo dragon and has it send the Vescora back to their dimension. Saturnyne then asks Apocalypse-Annihlation if their declaration still holds. While Annihilation tries to say no Apocalypse says it does. Saturnyne then takes the Annihilation mask off Apocalypse and transforms it into a spear. She then gives the Annihilation Spear to Genesis.
Saturnyne then declares that Otherworld has won, Krakoa survives, and Arakko yields are the final results of the tournament. Troubled by the result Saturnyne says that with this result one mutant from each side will leave their own land and live with the enemy.
Apocalypse does not hesitate in saying he will go with Amenth and that the mutant island of Arakko will go to Krakoa. After mentioning all the mutant prisoners on Arakko, Saurnyne compliments Apocalypse on his choices.
With that Saturnyne opens a portal so the X-Men can go back to Krakoa and another portal for Apocalypse and Genesis to return to Amenth along with their children, the First Horsemen.
Later Saturnyne is asked by Ryl if she foresaw all of the events that just occurred. Saturnyne says no because of the complexity with the Multiverse. That said, Saturnyne says she did see the signs of Jubilee reuniting with Shogo, Cable returning the Light of Galador to the S.W.O.R.D station, Storm returning the Skybreaker sword to Wakanda, cracks appearing in the Quiet Council.
Saturnyne says those are the little things as the most important things that happened is that Avalon controls the sole gate to and from Earth to distract mutants, turning Blightspoke into a useful tool for them to use with Summoners help, control of the Crooked Market, and the appetite Death currently has.
Hearing all this Ryl congratulates Saturnyne on being able to take control of the Captain Britain Corps and turn them into her personal knights.
Saturnyne is then welcomed as the Omniversal Majestrix by her kingdom as both Captain Avalon and Mad King Jaime Braddock watch on with smiles in her face. After reflecting on what she truly wanted, the love of Brian Braddock, Saturnyne sits on her throne to begin her new reign. End of story.
The Good: It was a long road to get here but X Of Swords is finally over. Now once the dust settled with X Of Swords: Destruction #1 we are left with a foundation where a lot questions for all of the X-Men titles to answer. The way we got to that foundation was no doubt a major battle that had many hype moments though how deserved they were will be up to how well received the previous 21 chapters for X Of Swords were.
Now before getting into some of the problems there was no doubt a lot to enjoy about how X Of Swords: Destruction #1 concluded the latest X-Men crossover. As previously mentioned, X Of Swords: Destruction was one massive battle that delivered all the hype moments you expect from the final issue of a big comic book crossover. Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard did a fantastic job escalating the fight with major moments that build on all the battles we see going on.
Starting out with Annihilation immediately countering the appearance of the Multiverse Captain Britain Corps with her own demons and beast was a great way to kick off that sense of escalation with each page you turn. Seeing the desperation of all of Krakoa’s champions and other mutants made the moment when the X-Men suddenly storm Otherworld come across as the biggest moment this crossover could deliver. There was a sense of hope that seeing all of the X-Men arriving in Otherworld brought that made the odds be something we don’t look at as being impossible to overcome.
That moment with the X-Men storming Otherworld work so well because of the quick speech that Cyclops and Jean Grey gave everyone before arriving in Otherworld. Cyclops came across as the leader everyone would follow to any battle with what he said. Having him give over the battle cry moment to Jean Grey was a fantastic way to show the readers that these two original X-Men are in command of things. Hearing Jean Grey be the one to say “To me my X-Men!” was a moment that just felt right to hear her say as she is taking on more of the role that Charles Xavier had before House of X/Powers of X changed things.
While it brought its own problems, just seeing Cyclops and Jean helping out Cable to power up the S.W.O.R.D space station was a nice payoff to the arc Cable has had in this crossover. We’ve seen how throughout X Of Swords that the humbling of Cable has been one of the major sub-plots. That sub-plot being paid off with his dad and mom helping him to further turn the tables on Annihilation was a great Summers Family moment.
The final resolution coming down to the relationship between Apocalypse and Genesis was appropriate given that they are who kicked off the entire X Of Swords crossover. Hickman and Howard did a great job putting over the importance of Apocalypse and Genesis’ relationship. Seeing Apocalypse show so much love for someone else was both surprising and refreshing change of pace for his character. You could tell even if his plan to assume control of Annihilation wasn’t going to work out that he wanted to make sure Genesis was safe.
This built in well with how Apocalypse ended up being the big hero of the day as he forced Annihilation, who was the one he was fighting in the final match of Saturnyne’s tournament, to surrender along with him. This result along with the mutant exchange made the set-up for what is planned for Apocalypse next something to keep an eye out for. There is a sense of ambiguity now with what role Apocalypse will serve in the franchise now that he is back with his family.
While this result didn’t fully play out the way that Saturnyne wanted the fact that she was still left in a spot where she now has much more power as Omniversal Majestrix an interesting ending. Now that the tournament is over Hickman, Howard, and the other X-Men writers have a powerful antagonist to continue to develop in the X-Men world. Adding in the Multiverse Captain Britain Corps to her side makes her an even more powerful antagonist.
The results also leaving Krakoa with two empty seats on the Quiet Council was another interesting note in how things ended up. As Saturnyne mentions, this is the first time in this new direction for the franchise that cracks appear in the governmental structure Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert built with the Quiet Council. These two empty seats along with the questioning of Cyclops decisions as Captain Commander makes these cracks even bigger. Who fills these seats and what that will mean for Krakoa moving forward will be very interesting to see play out in all the X-Men books.
With how much went on in X Of Swords: Destruction #1 Pepe Larraz was the star of the show with his fantastic artwork. As things escalated at a rapid pace Larraz kept up with making sure each moment felt big with his artwork. The big “To me my X-Men” moment was by far the stand out. Larraz did a phenomenal job giving this moment as much detail as possible as he drew every recognizable X-Men fans would want to see. That made the immediacy of the battle as the X-Men did not waste time in helping their friends was so cool to see. And that is all thanks to Larraz’s talents as an artist.
The Bad: When all was said and done with this X Of Swords crossover the one feeling that we are left with is how the tournament this entire story was built around felt inconsequential. Sure we had some cool fights but it did not feel like it was worth the 22 chapters that made up this crossover. There was so much that could’ve been cut out that would have helped cut the length of this crossover by at least several chapters.
A major reason for why the tournament felt inconsequential was that outside of Apocalypse, Cable and War none of the other champions for Krakoa and Arakko played a role in the story. With how much time all the X-Men writers spent building all the champions for both sides of being there is no excuse to not have more of them play a role in the conclusion for X Of Swords. This is another thing that goes back to the length of X Of Swords being what makes story decisions like this even more apparent.
Adding in the Vescora in the final moments just added to this major problem to the X Of Swords story. Sure, it was cool to see how the Vescora played into Cable’s sub-plot but other than that they just came across as unnecessary last-minute entrants into the story. They were nothing more than more bodies into a final battle that was already bloated. And the fact that the Vescora were so easily sent back to their dimension only highlighted how they added absolutely nothing to the story.
Overall: X Of Swords: Destruction #1 delivered all of the hype moments fans expect from an ending to the final issue of a big crossover event. Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard wrapped things up in a way that creates a lot potential future stories that fans can be immediately invested in for all the X-Men titles. Unfortunately, the length of this crossover ended up being the biggest enemy of X Of Swords as the conclusion did not feel like a completely satisfying end to how long we spent with this story. Cutting out a few plot developments would’ve helped make this a much more better story when all was said and done.
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