X-Men: How X of Swords is Expanding Marvel's Mutant Culture

Marvel re-invented the X-Men in last fall's House of X events series, and now that bold new era of X-Men has led to its first big crossover event, "X of Swords". The official kick-off to the new X-Men event happens in X of Swords: Creation #1, which lays out the epic scope of the X-Men's upcoming war with dark inhabitants of another dimension. However, in laying the groundwork for that battle, writers Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard also expand the mythos of the ancient Marvel Universe in a way that is also quickly expanding the scope of Marvel's Mutant Culture.

Warning: X of Swords: Creation SPOILERS follow!

The premise of X of Swords sees a dark threat rise in the form of Amenth, the dark half of the mystical Otherworld. As Apocalypse reveals to the "Quiet Council" of Krakoa (the X-Men's new mutant homeland) that in ancient times, Krakoa was actually a much larger piece of sentient land, called Okkara. A weapon of Amenth called The Twilight Sword cut Okkara into two halves: Krakoa and Arakko. Apocalypse led an army against the forces of Amenth, a war that ended with Arakko and Apocalypse's Wife and his original Four Horsemen having to be sealed away in Amenth with Apocalypse never knowing if his "children" and Arakko survived.

We already knew hints of this new chapter of Apocalypse's backstory, but what we didn't know were some of the finer details that are revealed in X of Swords: Creation #1. For instance, here's what Apocalypse says when Prof. X asks just how great the threat of Amenth is:

"Thousands of years ago, I gave up half the world to stop these monsters. All that cost was... my wife, my children, and scores of god-like mutants whose names you have never heard -- I surrendered everything to stop this. So... a proper assessment? The threat is real."

X-Men X Of Swords Apocalypse Origin Horsemen Arakko History Explained
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

What Apocalypse basically reveals in that monologue is that Marvel once had an ancient team of X-Men defending the world. Or, to be more specific, a team of "A-Men," i.e., a group of powerful mutants gathered and led by Apocalypse, his wife, and the original Horsemen. It's hard to know if that's just a historical aside, or if Marvel could be setting the stage to do it's own Ancient X-Men spinoff, in the vein of Avengers 1,000,000 BC. It's a cool concept to consider, and fans seem to already be behind it.


In general, X-Men's "Dawn of X" reboot has put renewed interest on Apocalypse's character, with writer Jonathan Hickman doing much to pain the mutant despot in a much more complex and anti-heroic light. House of X revealed a timeline where Apocalypse's wife was Moira Mactaggart, who joined him to form the X-Men and battle Nimrod's Man-Machine Supremacy in a dark future timeline. It seems Apocalypse will be much more of a central figure (in every sense of the word) in the X-Men saga, going forward.

X of Swords is now unfolding across the various X-Men comics.