Review by Karl Verhoven
There’s a clever start to this conclusion of X of Swords with an opening chapter that echoes the opening chapter of X of Swords Vol. 1: Creation, even using the same Leinel Francis Yu art, but Jonathan Hickman’s script offers a different perspective. In Vol. 1 we saw ten X-Men collect ten swords with which they are to do battle to settle an ages old dispute concerning a right of passage.
Whereas the previous book was a collection of individual chapters, this is a greater creative collaboration. Hickman sets the overall direction, Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy share the writing of several chapters, and there are fewer writers overall. Having gathered ten swords and introduced ten opponents, the traditional crossover story would have featured ten swordfights as anticipated. That’s not what happens here. Instead we’re presented with a succession of inventive scenarios. Some are physical battles and some are other forms of combat, but all surprise, sometimes at the start, sometimes at the end, and on a couple of occasions all the way through. Wolverine’s story isn’t the best here, but it is the most surprising, and contestants are called on multiple times.
The sample art offers pages from Phil Noto and Joshua Cassara, but it could pair any from Mahmud Asrar, Stefano Caselli and Pepe Larraz, who draw roughly the same amount of pages equally well. As noted, Yu’s contribution was also seen in Creation, and Carmen Carnero is only responsible for a single chapter, but it’s a good one of malicious betrayal.
Hickman and Tini Howard co-write the finale. “You fight for love and hate, salvation and death, damnation and eternity, and none of these will be denied”, explains Saturnyne, as we finally see what readers of the mutant titles since 2019 have surely considered might have been the solution to several problems when an army of mutants is available. That’s not all there is to it, though, and the seed to victory has been well planted.
Toweringly ambitious, and almost entirely successful, X of Swords is one very satisfying read, and also available as a single edition.