Marvel's X-Men: X of Swords Ending Explained

This week, Marvel Comics brought its epic X of Swords crossover event, the first such event of the post-House of X/Powers of X era, to a close in its final three chapters: X-Men #15, Excalibur #15, and X of Swords: Destruction #1 (read our review here). The climax to the event brought many ongoing narrative threads and themes from the X-Men line to a head and drew on some old X-Men lore, including some rooted in long out-of-print stories. If you want a better understanding of the X of Swords event's ending, then we're here to help you out, but you should know that SPOILERS for X-Men #15, Excalibur #15, and X of Swords: Destruction #1 follow.

X-Men #15 is a fascinating issue because it distinguishes Krakoa from the X-Men. Krakoa is a political entity, with all of the baggage that entails. As such, tying the Quiet Council's hands when it comes to the kinds of direct intervention it can support, and it weighs the lives of one person vs. the nation's stability differently than a superhero might. But Professor X raised Cyclops to be a superhero, and his and Marvel Girl's son is in trouble. Jean abdicates her position on the Council and leaves to enact their plans, with Professor X and Magneto's sympathy and moral support if not their direct assistance. This decision foreshadows one of the big moments to come in X of Swords: Destruction.

The Return fo the Captain Britain Corps

When Apocalypse defeats Genesis, that should be the end of the conflict, but Annihilation was never going to accept defeat. The forces of Amenth come to bear on Otherworld and the Swordbearers of Krakoa.

Meanwhile, Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne retreated to her Starlight Citadel. There, she begins to cast the spell that motivated her intervention in the mutant contest all along. Brian Braddock is, at this point the only surviving member of the Captain Britain Corps, which were once Otherworld's heroic defenders of the multiverse. His sister, Betsy Braddock, was shattered in the first contest of the X of Swords event. Saturnyne assumes that when she reforges the shards of what once was Betsy that a new Captain Britain Corps would form around Brian, enlisting different versions of Brian from across the multiverse as it had before. She's half-correct. A new Captain Britain Corps does emerge, but Betsy is at the center and her multiversal counterparts who answer the call, not Brian's. Nonetheless, the Captain Britain Corps is reborn.

The Tenth S.W.O.R.D.

Saturnyne's prophecy only named nine swords of Krakoa to Arakko's ten. The Krakoans are on the brink when the tenth sword arrives from out of the darkness. With Magik's help, Cyclops and Jean bring the orbital space station known as the Peak, the headquarters of S.W.O.R.D., into Otherworld, paying off the foreshadowing in the very first issue of the 22-part event.

The X-Men are Back

Jean Grey leads the charge, giving the "To me, my X-Men" battle cry as the heroes join the fight. This moment is significant. Fans have noted that the X-Men haven't behaved much like superheroes since the Dawn of X relaunch. These issues are the X-team's way of acknowledging that this was purposeful. For Professor X, Moira, and Magneto to realize their dream for Krakoa, they had to let the X-Men fall to the wayside. Now Cyclops and Jean are letting the Quiet Council know that the mutants still need heroes, and they will continue to be heroes even without the Council's sanction.

In a final payoff from earlier in the event, Cable unlocks the dimensional portal that allows a swarm of alien invaders into Otherworld. They effectively turn the tide against the hordes of Amenth.

Apocalypse Surrenders

In a moment of growth for Apocalypse, he shows how he has learned the difference between surrender and defeat. He takes up the helmet of Annihilation and, representing its army, bends the knee to surrender. Doing so allows a new peace to flourish between Krakoa and Arakko.

But Saturnyne needs guarantees. One representative from each nation -- one from Krakoa and one from Amenth -- must trade places to ensure no more violence between the two. Apocalypse volunteers himself to go to Amenth, reuniting him with his wife and children after millennia apart. In an unexpected twist, he volunteers Arakko, the mutant island, to go to Krakoa, thus reuniting the two severed halves of Okkara.

In the end, Apocalypse got what he wanted, though not the way he expected and not without cost. Saturnyne got everything she wanted except that which she desired most, the love of Brian Braddock. And mutant society is changed by Cyclops and Marvel Girl's decision in the Quiet Council and the reunion of Krakoa and Arakko.

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Readers will have to wait for the Reign of X to begin in December to see what happens next. All 22 chapters of X of Swords are on sale now.