When Marvel Comics launched Jonathan Hickman’s X-run, House of X/Powers of X was strong out of the gate.
A lot of titles, particularly X-Men, seemed to be establishing plot threads that would play out in X of Swords and even later in Hickman’s run.
X of Swords was a stab at a fantasy adventure. In contrast, Hickman’s first big Avengers event was a spacefaring sci-fi adventure in Infinity, so he and the various creative teams get points for attempting to branch out and tackle the fantasy genre for his first big X-event. It was a bit slow, dragged out a bit, and didn’t necessarily meet expectations for a big dangerous sword fight. Fantasy aficionados may note that the non-sword fight challenges may reflect the more cerebral appreciation for magic and divine trickery in fantasy, but still.
To its credit, X of Swords ends strongly, with a massive battle and the arrival of the calvary consisting of every X-Man EVER!
X of Swords does do a lot. It reestablishes the Captain Britain Corps, with Betsy Braddock as the new template for the Captain Britains of the multiverse. It potentially sets up Mr. Sinister’s chimera mutants; a plot point touched on in House of X/Powers of X. This event also laid the groundwork for the new status quo moving forward with Arakko being rejoined to Krakoa (a plot point that at the time of this writing has yet to be addressed in the X-titles). However, given the hardness of Arakko’s conditions, a clash of mutant culture seems unavoidable.
Overall though, X of Swords gets weighed down by the plot-heavy purpose it serves (think of Iron Man 2 or Avengers: Age of Ultron in terms of how much they got weighed down in terms of setting up future developments in the shared universe). This was a smart, if uneven, event, but it doesn’t flow as smoothly as some of Hickman’s work in other franchises, particularly the Avengers. He juggled multiple books that led to nothing less than a destruction and reboot of the Marvel multiverse. I also don’t understand how the X-titles could show that there is a Sword of Cerebro leading up to X of Swords and have it not feature in this event.
In fairness to Hickman, his role as “Head of X” finds him coordinating multiple creative teams and an ever-increasing number of X-titles. One could forgive him for getting bogged down in plot details. The X-team has cast a big net, and with the conflict between Krakoa and Arakko behind them (for now), the X-titles have only touched on one small part of the events foreshadowed in HOX/POX.
I hope that the plot’s heavy establishment of the status quo gives way in future titles and events to a smoother flow of action. But while X of Swords was not a perfect event, I’m excited about the storytelling potential it establishes moving forward!