X-Men is Bringing Back Apocalypse's First Horsemen

X-Men will (finally) be bringing back Apocalypse's First Horsemen, in a storyline that's been teased ever since the "House of X" reboot event, last year. X-Men writer Jonathan Hickman laid out an entire history (and future) involving Apocalypse's Original Horsemen, and now the new Free Comic Book Day: X-Men #1 has included a tease that the Original Horsemen will be returning as part of the upcoming "X of Swords" crossover event in 2020. If that wasn't exciting enough, the First Horsemen are coming back for what has been described as a "black ceremony... a baptism of blood." Like that's not ominous at all...

Apocalype First Horsemen Return Free Comic Book Day X-Men 1
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

In FCBD: X-Men #1 we get a tease of what's to come in the "X of Swords" event. That preview takes the form of precognitive visions by Omniversal Majestrix Saturnyne, who uses Otherworld's magic to look into the future. What Saturnyne sees is the typical Hickman-style teaser of major events and/or continuity shake-ups, wihthout the full context to explain whether it's in fact a big reveal, or a red herring. Here's a breakdown of what we see in Saturnyne's tarot card-style reading (with is a callback to the original opening of the Powers of X series):

  • Judgment: Finality, an irrevocable change with no going back.
  • The Four of Wands: The ceremony carried out by the First Horsemen of Apocalypse.
  • The Hanged Man: Apocalypse's team of mutants, with several members making the ultimate sacrifice.
  • The Eight of Cups: Disillusionment and abandonment, with no context.
  • Ten of Swords: A tease of major betrayal, and ten mutants wielding swords of significance. Of the ten, we only see Apocalypse; Magik with the Soulsword; Wolverine with the Muramasa blade; Psylocke with her psychic sword; Cable wielding the Spaceknight blade.

Whatever ceremony the First Horsemen are going to carry out, it seems pretty significant to helping galvanize the story of "X of Swords," and whatever event is catalyzed by this union of ten blades.

The House of X and Powers of X event series and their multiple timelines of X-Men history revealed that tease that Apocalypse's First Horsemen make a return. "Life Nine" saw Moira wake Apocalypse from slumber early and join with him. They eliminated both Prof X. and Magneto, then left earth to rescue the Original Horsemen. Upon their successful return, Apocalypse formed his own version of the X-Men and battled Nimrod's Man-Machine Supremacy. We later learned that in the ancient past, Apocalypse and his First Horsemen actually fought as heroes to repel the demonic invasion of Earth in the ancient world.

That war ended with the First Horsemen having to sacrificing themselves to seal the rift to demon realm that open on Arakko, the partner of the X-Men's living island, Krakoa. As we learn in Power of X, Doug Ramsay communes with Krakoa and hears the island's history:

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"We were Okkara, the one land,. Ancient before that word existed, but not yet old in the way that they were old. The Twilight Sword of the enemy tore the world asunder, and what was one became two: Arakko and Krakoa. And from the chasm between them -- from whatever wicked place they came -- the enemy poured into this world."

The "Dawn of X" storyline has quietly revisited the ancient Arakko/Krakoa rift, by reuniting the islands and introducing "The Summoners" as a last, dwindling, line of defense against the demonic realm. Once that line falls, it seems we'll need the Original Horsemen to help turn back the tide of evil.

X of Swords is slated to begin soon in Marvel Comics.

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