Last week, Marvel Comics launched it's new X-Men event, which is an epic fantasy X-Men story on the scale of Lord of the Rings. This week, we got the second chapter of the "X of Swords" story in X-Factor #4. The issue reveals new dangers in the war between Krakoa and Arakko and reveals the champions who will stand for Krakoa, swords in hand, in the coming contest.
Opal Luna Saturnyne, the Ominiversal Majestrix who rules Otherworld, manipulated both sides of this conflict into this tournament and embedded a prophecy about swords and champions in Polaris. That prophecy is now revealed and with it, the identities of the champions and the swords they'll wield.
Each side has 10 champions, although the Krakoa side of the equation isn't quite adding up (more on that later). For now, let's look at who these champions are. SPOILERS for X-Factor #4 follow. Keep reading and see who the champions are for yourself.
"Eight years, gone in seconds. From childhood lost, comes a creature grown. A young girl's friends used as weapons honed a woman's soul into a blade of her own."
This is the easy one and the final page of X-Factor #4 confirms that it refers to Magik. The "eight years, gone in seconds" line refers to how Magik spent eight years in Limbo, but only seconds passed for her friends on Earth. The reference to honing a woman's soul into a blade points towards Magik's Soulsword, one of the blades named in the first chapter of X of Swords.
Magik is one of the Great Captains of Krakoa. It's no surprise she doesn't balk at the challenge.prevnext
"A beacon slices darkness, stationed in space. A young man, born old, pilots a place."
This is another easy one. The "beacon" refers to the Light of Galador, the alien sword that Cable discovered in Cable #1, which was named in last week's list of words. "A young man, born old" is a reference to the odd circumstances of his birth that led to his introduction as a man older than his father and his recent reintroduction as a teenaged version fo that man.
The "pilots a place" line likely refers to Graymalkin, Cable's old spaceship base. It was named after Graymalkin Lane, the street address of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.prevnext
"Friend-self, friends lost. Out of one comes many, into many comes one."
The use of friend-self is a giveaway that this is pointing towards Warlock, the shapeshifting alien who refers to those close to him as "self-friend." Cypher is Warlock's best friend and is determined not to let Warlock go into this alone. Since Cypher will wield Warlock like a weapon, as he has done in the past, that makes Cypher the champion.prevnext
"Once Goddess, once queen, one sword with which to split the sky in twain. Vibranium inlaid, a tempest contained, the wrath of heavens comes wielding a legacy."
There's one X-Man who was once considered a goddess, and that's Storm. She was also once Queen of Wakanda, and her sword being "vibranium inlaid" suggests that's where she'll find her blade. "Split the sky in twain" suggests her blade is Skybreaker.prevnext
"Lost soul, an edge gained. A lone wanderer returns o a forge left ablaze."
"Lone wanderer" says Wolverine. He'll be wielding the Muramasa blade, the weapon he had forged from a piece of his soul.prevnext
The Braddock Twins
"As above, so below. From one womb came two -- a hero destined to brandish what the earth hate swallowed, and an echo doomed to yearn for what the stars hath forsworn."
"From one womb came two" suggests twins, which lead us to the Braddocks -- Betsy and Brian. What's interesting is that Brian is not a mutant. He's not even Captain Britain anymore now that Besty has taken over the role.
Brian seems destined to wield the Swords of Might that he has tried to so hard to reject recently. Betsy's blade is less clear. She typically fights with her own psychic weapons, but the line about "what the stars hath forsworn" perhaps suggests she'll hold the Starlight Sword.prevnext
"Ego death and broken stone; two wars waged by one champion alone."
This one is more cryptic than the others, but Gorgon steps in to claim it as his calling. Gorgon once had mutant eyes that could turn those he gazed upon into stone before they were cut from his head, which may be what the "broken stone" bit is referencing.
Gorgon will presumably wield the Godkiller blade once again, but Gorgon may end up with two of the swords. The tarot card depicting what we now know to be the champions in X of Swords: Creation #1 shows Gorgon holding two swords. The educated guess is that the second sword is Godkiller's twin, Grasscutter, which would explain why only nine champions were named instead of ten. That would also make sense of the "two wars waged by one champion" line.prevnext
"A father forsaken, a husband betrayed. An ancient treasure sharpens the death his children crave."
Apocalypse claims this position, and given what we learned about his wife and children in Creation, it makes sense. Considering Apocalypse's connection to ancient Egypt, we assume his sword is the Scarab.prevnext
The 10th Champion?
We're going to indulge in a bit of speculation here. There are supposed to be 10 champions, but we only get lines for nine. Gorgon seems to be doing double duty and on the tarot card teasing the identities of the champions, he does wield two swords.
But despite there being 11 swords on that card, there are still 10 champions. So perhaps another champion and another sword remain to be revealed? Here's our theory:
The unidentified silhouette on the tarot card looks, to me, like Magneto. My guess is that Gorgon is intended to fight twice in the tournament, but will lose his first contest. Since X-Factor #4 confirmed that any mutant who dies in Otherworld faces the true death, a replacement champion will be needed for his second outing.
That's where Magneto steps in. And his sword? It could be the Cerebro sword, which was recently stolen from Krakoa.
Again, this is just speculation, but the does seem to be an imbalance between swords and champions that needs to be addressed.prev