How 'X of Swords' Reveals the Hidden History of Arakko
Plus, famous last words are spoken inside today's new 'X-Men' and 'Marauders'!
Want to read X OF SWORDS but haven't started yet? Find out how to dive in right here!
Warning! This article contains spoilers for today's X-MEN #14 and MARAUDERS #14, so read on at your own risk, o frantic ones!
After X OF SWORDS: STASIS #1, the swordbearers of Krakoa and Arakko are in place for a tournament to the death in Otherworld. At stake is the survival of the mutant nation of Krakoa...and the very Earth itself. The X-Men and most of their former foes could defeat almost any enemy, but the Arakkii are not just any enemy. They are the children of Apocalypse who have been hardened by millennia of war with the demonic forces of Amenth. More alarmingly, the Arakkii are led by Annihilation—Apocalypse’s long lost wife, Genesis—who has been merged with Ameth. And Genesis is far more powerful than her husband.
X OF SWORDS continues with two installments this week, starting with X-MEN #14 by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Mahmud Asrar & Leinil Francis Yu. For the first time, readers learn the history of Arakko’s lost mutants from the mouth of Genesis herself. And it’s a twisted tale indeed.
According to Genesis, hundreds of her mutant followers immediately went insane and fled into the wasteland surrounding Arakko once it was cut off from Krakoa and Earth. Regardless, Genesis and the Horsemen were able to fortify Arakko and hold it for ages. They couldn’t win against the Amenthi, but they maintained a stalemate that allowed them to flourish.
The mutant prophet, Idyll, foresaw Arakko’s eventual defeat. In defiance of that vision of the future, Genesis and her warriors left their strongholds and reunited with the White Sword. His power was said to be healing in X OF SWORDS: STASIS #1, but the White Sword can do more than that. He can resurrect his followers to fight and die for him again, again, and again. Endlessly. In fact, it was the White Sword who handed Genesis her first true defeat since arriving in the other dimension. The White Sword holds no allegiance to anyone but himself now, much to Genesis’ regret.
But the most disheartening development for Genesis was the realization that the Amenthi had just been biding their time. They captured Arakko’s lost mutants ages ago and used them to breed a super race of Amenthi and mutant hybrids. Genesis’ own sister, Isca the Unbeaten, also defected to the Amenthi. Isca’s mutant power is that she can’t lose...but she felt that she had to switch sides.
Rather than surrender, Genesis faced and defeated Annihilation in combat. But that victory forced Genesis to become the new Annihilation, or else the Amenthi forces would be uncontrollable and destroy everything. According to Genesis, she resisted for years...until she saw Summoner and a piece of Arakko sent to Earth as a plea for help. Genesis felt that her people had lost their way, and finally succumbed to Amenth’s will. Now, their two forces are one.
MARAUDERS #14 continued the calm before the storm, as co-writers Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy joined artist Stefano Caselli to depict a dinner party hosted by Saturnyne, the Omniversal Majestrix.
The swordbearers of Krakoa and Arakko were summoned to the Starlight Citadel on the eve of the slaughter, which allowed both sides to examine each other for any perceived weaknesses. Gorgon and Magik openly did it together, but they were dismayed to find that Isca had no weakness that they could perceive. She may truly be unbeatable.
There was also some very flirtatious behavior between Storm and Death; he sensed that she was unafraid of him and found it intriguing. Much to the anger of his sister, War, Death seemed to have a desire for Storm as well. That’s why Storm invited Death for a private dance among the mermaids in the dining hall. Death also realized a key difference between Storm and her fellow swordbearers... She has never tasted death, and found new life through resurrection.
Storm did briefly die with the X-Men in FALL OF THE MUTANTS before Roma resurrected them; regardless, Storm told Death an abridged version of her life story and how she has always been familiar with death. She neither desires death, nor fears it. Their dance is as close as Storm will allow Death to come.
While waiting for the inevitable hostilities to begin, Saturnyne revealed that the battles will be staged across Otherworld’s kingdoms. Some of Otherworld’s rulers were also present, including Roma, Jim Jaspers, Vesperidae, and Famine. Obviously Famine favors his fellow Arakkii. But if the other rulers of Otherworld have favorites, they are keeping them close to the vest.
Throughout the night, Wolverine’s anger grew. He lashed out at Brian Braddock and insisted that if he had given into Saturnyne’s desire then none of this would have happened. Only Storm realized that Wolverine already had a plan to end this battle before it started. Rather than attempting to dissuade him, Storm told Wolverine not to miss. Wolverine was also so focused on Saturnyne that he failed to notice War poisoning his food. Logan doesn’t appear to have eaten the poison, yet...
As Saturnyne justified her refusal to simply end the conflict, she told Wolverine that “death is the great change, and everything dies.” In turn, Wolverine said those were “famous last words,” and...savagely struck Saturnyne down.
Will that be enough to kill her? Wolverine had better hope so, because Saturnyne truly does have the power to destroy him.
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