Ranking the X-Men's swords in X of Swords
The first X-Men crossover of the new era has reached its climax. This week sees the release of X-Men #15, Excalibur #15, and X of Swords: Destruction #1, which together conclude the 22-part X of Swords saga that has consumed Marvel's X-Men comics for the past several months. Crossovers are a staple of X-Men comics going back decades, but this was the first since House of X and Powers of X relaunched the status quo last year by relocating all Marvel's mutants to an independent nation-state on the living island of Krakoa.
Building off story threads laid out in House of X, Powers of X, and the relaunched Dawn of X comics that followed, X of Swords has explored the history of Krakoa. Millennia ago, Krakoa was but half of a greater island called Okkara, which was split in two by the mutant Apocalypse to save the world from an extradimensional demonic invasion. The other half of Okkara, Arakko, has spent the eternity since in a hell dimension fighting armies of demons. Its residents are understandably bitter about this, and in X of Swords they have come to challenge the X-Men for dominion over both islands — and reality as a whole.
The challenge has taken the form of swordfights… kind of. Each side was assigned 10 magical swords (if you're ever confused by the title of an X-Men comic, try reading the "X" as a Roman numeral), which could only be wielded by specific champions. Those two teams then assembled in the neutral territory of Otherworld to compete against each other — not just in swordfights, either, but in all manner of magical and strength contests. To salute the story's finale, we ranked the swords wielded by the X-Men — by how cool they are and how well they've aided their bearers in the contest.
9. Starlight Sword (Captain Britain)
This one certainly seems cool, since it's one of the newer swords in the X-Men collection. Forged from the material of the Starlight Citadel where the contest between Krakoa and Arakko is taking place, the Starlight Sword was meant to be a new weapon for Captain Britain to defend the Omniverse after the Secret Wars event from several years ago left its defenses depleted (funnily enough, that comic was also written by X of Swords mastermind Jonathan Hickman). But the Starlight Citadel and everything in it answer to the authority of the Omniversal Majestrix, Luna Saturnyne, and Saturnyne does not approve of Betsy Braddock taking the role of Captain Britain from her brother Brian. The sword betrayed its bearer early in the contest, to Brian's horror and Saturnyne's delight.
8. Sword of Might (Captain Avalon)
A weapon traditionally associated with Captain Britain, the Sword of Might has nevertheless been treated as a bad-faith prank by Betsy ever since she assumed the mantle. The traditional method of discovering whether someone is worthy to be Captain Britain is to offer them the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might; if they choose the sword, they have failed, because right is better than might. Betsy became Captain Britain a different way, and is a little insecure about it. So every time Brian has offered Betsy the Sword of Might to use in this sword contest, she's rejected it as an attack on her legitimacy. Eventually, Brian just took the sword himself and assumed a new identity: Captain Avalon, defender of the Braddock family. Saturnyne is none too pleased about it, of course.
7. The Light of Galador (Cable)
Another new sword, the Light of Galador was only recently discovered by the young Cable in the paw of a giant monster that appeared on Krakoa. Cable embraced his find enthusiastically, choosing a sword as his weapon to further distinguish himself from the older, gun-wielding version of Cable that fans and characters alike are more familiar with. The Light of Galador certainly has unique advantages, since it taps into a well of power that Cable can manipulate, but at this point it seems better suited as a power source (Cable used it to reactivate the X-Men's orbital S.W.O.R.D. station early in the story) than as a weapon.
6. Warlock Sword (Cypher)
Cypher is no swordsman, as he'll be the first to admit. His talents are in language and communication — and thanks to the unexpected and random nature of Saturnyne's contest, those talents have actually helped score a point or two for the X-Men. But even though Cypher's sword hasn't seen much use in battle, it's still an awesome visualization of friendship-as-weapon — since the blade is literally made out of Cypher's shapeshifting best friend.
5. Grasscutter & Godkiller (Gorgon)
There are 10 swords for the X-Men but only nine swordbearers, because one mutant is powerful enough to wield two at once. Gorgon was not a hero until he accepted the Krakoan amnesty for all mutants, and the zenith of his prior villainy came in Hickman's Secret Warriors comics when he fought a duel against Phobos, the young son of the god Ares. In that fight, Gorgon wielded Godkiller and Phobos wielded Grasscutter — two perfect swords forged by gods in a long-ago war between the Japanese and Greek pantheons. After Gorgon won, he claimed both swords for his own, and he has since become one of the deadliest mutants at Krakoa's disposal.
4. Scarab (Apocalypse)
It's always about the number four with Apocalypse. Matching rhetoric from the Book of Revelation, the mutant supervillain has often appeared with four Horsemen in tow, though the lineup always changes. In X of Swords, readers have learned that the original Four Horsemen were Apocalypse's own children, who he sent through the demonic portal to defend Arakko ages ago and who have now returned seeking vengeance. Even Apocalypse's chosen sword relates to the number four: He split Scarab into four pieces after losing his children, and has only now reforged it in order to fight them. But as fans of Apocalypse know, it doesn't especially matter what particular weapon he's wielding in battle; it is the man himself, the so-called first mutant ("En Sabah Nur"), armed with millennia of hard-fought experience and a merciless survival-of-the-fittest philosophy, that is always the most dangerous.
3. Soulsword (Magik)
The first several installments of X of Swords were consumed by the X-Men completing various trials and tasks in order to secure their swords. Not Magik — she was first in line, because what is there for her to prove? She is her sword and her sword is her, which maybe explains why she scored a crucial point for her team through ingenuity and riddle-solving. Magik has been one of the most consistently awesome characters in the Krakoa era, and she has been a rock for readers and other characters throughout X of Swords.
2. Muramasa Blade (Wolverine)
What does it mean to not just overcome your greatest weakness, but turn it into a weapon? Wolverine would know better than most. He's wielded the Muramasa Blade before, and as soon as the rules of the sword contest were uttered, he knew he had to find it again. Muramasa is the name of a blacksmith who forges swords out of souls, and Logan's is no different. It contains a piece of his soul, and is therefore one of the only known weapons that can kill him (talk about a double-edged sword!). But being accustomed to vulnerability has helped Wolverine a great deal in Otherworld, where the ambient magic has disrupted his healing factor. Faced with rare and real danger, Wolverine has wielded his blade to once again prove he's the best there is at what he does, in this or any dimension.
1. Skybreaker (Storm)
Folks, there's a clear winner here. Though she is now a serving member of Krakoa's mutant government, Storm spent a significant amount of time in the past as Queen of Wakanda, back when she was married to T'Challa. That came in handy when the rules of the sword contest became clear, because — as should surprise no one — Wakanda possesses one of the most powerful and scientifically advanced swords in the world. Skybreaker was forged by the Wakandans ages ago, the first weapon made from the vibranium asteroid that crashed in their country. Studying it has been a great boost to Wakandan science over the years, but its power to channel and amplify energy is at its maximum utility in the hands of the lightning-controlling Storm. Even if she had to steal it from Wakanda's vault, Storm has since wielded it to great effect — as befits a true queen.