Part 15 of X of Swords marks the beginning of the tournament to determine the fate of Krakoa. While the first half of this series consisted, for the most part, Krakoa’s champions retrieving their swords, I assumed the second half would largely consist of one sword fight per issue between the two groups of champions. This issue shows that Saturnyne’s game is maybe a bit more complex than that.
The first fight between Captain Britain and Isca the Unbeaten begins like I imagined most of this X-event would go, with a Medieval style tournament, with both sides watching their champion fight to the death. What I imagined would be a quintessential fight ended almost as soon as it began and takes up very little space in this issue. Within a few sword parries, Issa’s blade shatters the starlight sword, and with it, Betsy Braddock.
Aside from being an extraordinarily rendered page by artist Phil Noto, this moment was foreshadowed by Gorgon back in Marauders #14.
Indeed, Isca’s sword breaks Betsy in a very literal way, making short work of this Captain Britain. While Betsy is presumed dead, don’t be surprised if this is a part of some scheme by Saturnyne to teach Betsy a lesson, especially given Betsy’s tarot card from Stasis, which spoke about how being paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t after you.
A majority of this issue is actually spent exploring Cypher’s challenge. While the cover indicates a hopeless fate for the inexperienced fighter, readers learn that his challenge consists of marrying one of Arakko’s champions, Bei the Blood Moon. The fact that this challenge takes up more than half the issue’s pages foreshadows the nature of the rest of the tournament, which will not be without bloody conflict but will consist of banal challenges that leave most of the contenders relatively unscathed.
This isn’t a straightforward fight, and while I do consider it to be boring and anti-climatic at times, I can’t help but wonder, with Captain Avalon, “What is Saturnyne up to?”
Excalibur #14 is available now!