Released by Marvel Comics on September 23, X of Swords – Creation #1 kicks off the next big X-Men event that the X-titles have been setting up for months! Writers Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard, artist Pepe Larraz, color artist Marte Gracia, and letter VC’s Clayton Cowles inaugurate the next era in the Dawn of X in this 67-page issue.
Hickman and Howard weave a high sci-fi/fantasy tale intrigue, conflict, and betrayal. Both writers had a lot on their plate in this issue, to surprise readers, make the stakes clear, and set up coherent ground rules for what is a massively sprawling tale seven prose section (more than half of which are diagrams).
Some of the story beats are predictable. Given what we know of Apocalypse’s own “survival of the fittest” philosophy when readers discover that the ones attacking Otherworld are his children, it is evident that his peaceful greeting to them will end will betrayal and violence.
What is a bit surprising is that Apocalypse’s grandchild, the Summoner, is in on the betrayal, which Rachel Summers and Cable discover when they probe Banshee’s mind on Krakoa (and a page after the Summoner stabs Apocalypse in the back). We discover that just as Apocalypse sought to reclaim Arrako and join it to Krakoa, so his children want to reclaim Krakoa (which spells death and violence for its current inhabitants…all but the fittest of course).
Art & Colors
Larraz does a lot of good work on this issue. There’s a real cinematic quality to the pages where Apocalypse is approaching his children, and Cable and Rachel are probing Banshee’s mind. As the story moves back and forth between these settings, one can almost hear the dramatic music building in one’s mind, increasing the tension and letting readers/viewers know that something is about to go down.
Then, of course, comes the moment when the Summoner betrays Apocalypse, and the scene shifts back one final time to Cable and Rachel’s mind probe, where we see the devilish grin of betrayal on the Summoner’s face.
Larraz does an excellent job capturing the fiendish look on the Summoner’s face, which is nicely juxtaposed with the look of shock on Rachel and Cable’s faces.
Gracia’s colors in this sequence are great, and provide a nice contrast between the images from the Summers’ mind probe, with the grayish-purple, and the bright colors of the waking world. Overall, this is a book with a diverse color pallet, and Gracia does a great job giving each scene its individual hues, adding to the overall fantasy atmosphere of the story.
This event has a lot going on. It would be very easy for many of the pages to become swamped in word balloons. Thankfully, Cowles is able to avoid this pitfall. The word balloons in this issue are detailed, but not overwhelming nor clunky, and the prose sections, which sometimes suffer in the X-books because they can be superfluous or tell what should be shown, actually provide a nice supplement to the regular panels.
After months of waiting, X of Swords has arrived. This issue raises the stakes, puts all the players in motion, and promises to be the type of giant, comic book spectacle that X-fans and fans of Hickman’s previous work should love.
Are you excited for X of Swords? What did you think of X of Swords – Creation #1? Tell us in the comments below!