Writer: Jonathan Hickman & Tini Howard
Art: Pepe Larraz & Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
The Krakoan Champions have been selected. Nine champions in total as Gorgon poses two swords (Grasscutter and Godkiller) and the event is titled ten of swords, not ten champions. The first ten chapters of X of Swords dealt mostly with the mutants of Krakoa; discovering their champions, locating their swords, and dealing with the growing magnitude of their current situation. Now with X of Swords: Stasis #1 the story shifts yet again and we the reader find out so much more of what is really going on, as well as the politics involved in the upcoming contest, and maybe most importantly just who are the Champions of Arakko.
X of Swords: Stasis #1 was another brilliantly satisfying chapter to this mighty Marvel mutant event. While we the readers were heavily invested in the choosing of the Krakoan champions we may have been less observant or in the know of what else was going on in the broader tapestry of this story. While X of Swords: Creation #1 hit the reader like a sledgehammer with its dense narrative and mind-blowing artwork that kicked off the entirety of this event X of Swords: Stasis #1 takes a step back and forward at the same time with equally beautiful art as superstar in the making Pepe Larraz returns along with the great Mahmud Asrar as the two share art duties on X of Swords: Stasis #1.
The issue begins with the calling of Otherworld’s parliament. Ever since the fall of Dryador (in Creation), the last outpost keeping Arakko from Otherworld, the many worlds of the Parliament have been concerned with the newest addition to Otherworld, the Arakkoans. With Arakko firmly entrenched and a desire to move across Otherworld to claim Krakoa the parliament of Otherworld is a bit on edge. This is where we get a glimpse into the political side of the Omniversal Majestrix as Saturnyne orchestrates the contest of champions as the only pathway to Krakoa is through the kingdom of Avalon, and it is their King Jamie Braddock’s right to invoke the challenge, which he is happy to do even though two of his siblings will be called forth to defend Krakoa. I found the political dynamic of Otherworld to be fascinating, and to see the text pieces throughout the first ten chapters, where the different civilizations were explained, to be brought to life was amazing and the artwork was stellar. With this backtrack in the story we finally see the roots of the contest and the ramifications that it will have not just for the mutants but all of the worlds of Otherworld, and we see the machinations of Saturnyne and the long game she is playing.
With the contest established and condoned by the Parliament we get to the coolest part of X of Swords: Stasis #1, the assembling of the Arrakoan champions. I’ll be honest, I want ten chapters of this. So far, we have met the original Horsemen of Apocalypse and in Wolverine and X-Force (Chapters 3 & 4) we were introduced to Solem, the Arakko equivalent to the X-Men’s favorite Canuk. Now we meet the rest of the champions and it is amazing to see what writers Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard accomplish in creating these champions and give them personality and depth in such a confined space. With a brevity of story and beautifully rich art the Arakko champions are simply amazing and I can’t wait to see them in the arena, if there is an arena that is.
The final part of X of Swords: Stasis #1 is the assemblage of champions at the Starlight Citadel as Saturnyne brings both the Krakoans and Arkoans to her home. While the Krakoans arrive ready to fight Apocalypse explains that the swords were more like keys to the contest rather than the means to the contest. Now I don’t doubt that there will be some throwing down in the near future but it is also apparent that there is far more to this event than ten duels in an arena. We also see more into the character of Apocalypse, who’s evolved more in this event than in the last twenty years, and he is not one to be told what to do. Yet since X of Swords began, he has been one step behind in this classic game of political intrigue and if the last page of X of Swords: Stasis #1 is an indication of the near future then this event is just heating up. Check back next week for X of Swords Week 7 to see what comes next.