By Adam Karenina Sherif

NYCC’s first virtual day saw Marvel host an X-panel hosted by Angélique Roché and featuring senior editor Jordan D. White, with writers Tini Howard (Excalibur), Gerry Duggan (Marauders, Cable), Benjamin Percy (Wolverine, Cable) and Vita Ayala (Marauders, Children Of The Atom). The assembled writers talked about the interweaving of stories on the crossover event X Of Swords as well as their respective X-titles during the panel.

X of Swords Panel

Roché began by describing the 22-part crossover series that’s taking over the X-books until the end of November, likening the event to past stories X-Cutioner’s Song and Messiah Complex. X Of Swords is a story that will shed more light on Apocalypse’s lost family, feature a massive tournament, ten swords, and eventually a very big battle between X-Men and Swordbearers. With parts 1-5 already released, White described X Of Swords as “growing out of seeds Jonathan [Hickman] planted with House Of X and Powers Of X” which “dovetailed into what Tini was doing with Excalibur”.

Reflecting on the collaborative environment of the X-Men writers’ room, Howard explained that when she pitched an Apocalypse story, Hickman said there was overlap with what he wanted to do with the character — and rather than that taking her idea off the table, it became something larger. She painted a portrait of an environment that’s not prescriptive, or ego-led, but mutually affirming. Percy described their processes as “additive” in the sense that with this event “the X-Men toybox just got much bigger”. Ayala added that “working in this room is like living on Krakoa, it’s great”. The group also name-checked artists Phil Noto, Matteo Lolli and Pepe Larraz for their work on various issues of the crossover so far.

X of Swords Panel

Of the three one-shots (Creation, Stasis, Destruction) that contribute to X Of Swords, Howard, who is co-writing with Hickman, teased that Stasis will introduce some new heroes and villains. She described her favourite swordbearers as “the two mean girls, and the sad boy.” Referring to new character Solem, Percy put it that Wolverine has a new nemesis: “a Loki to Wolverine’s Thor”. He confirmed that Solem’s set for a substantial role in both X Of Swords as well as in the pages of Wolverine going forwards.

Asked about Marauders, Ayala explained exploring what makes Storm worthy of being a swordbearer for both human and mutantkind in a recent issue. They detailed an approach of raising the emotional stakes at the personal level for the character as a means of adding tension to the book, specifically by bringing in Wakanda. They also shared some information on the upcoming Children Of The Atom. Referring to the series’ new characters, they said “these kids are like us in a way — they grew up with the X-Men, they grew up with mutants in the media and all over the place”. Ayala also confirmed there will be appearances from various X-Men in the book. On the subject on which characters we might see involved in their upcoming work on New Mutants, White slyly interjected that “you never know”.

Duggan spoke about working on Cable and how having a teen Cable makes for exciting possibilities as a writer. Rather than the usual cagey time-travelling veteran seriousness, kid Cable has a chance to make mistakes, be impulsive, and to grow up a Summers in a way he never did before. He also added that something major might be happening in Cable #5 (due out October 14th). On teaming up with Percy for some of the middle issues of the crossover, he noted that while it was a pandemic practicality in some measure, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to have fun and work in a less solitary way. 

Addressing the potential fallout from X Of Swords, White said the main X-Men team is going to be “hugely impacted by this” with consequences for each series as well. Perhaps slightly ominously, he added that “if you’re reading the collected editions, let’s say, of any one title, you’re gonna need to read this regardless of which series you’re reading”. Ayala followed up by positioning the crossover as at least being accessible regardless of whether a reader’s been following the individual books to this point. Duggan even offered up the idea that “maybe this will be regarded as bigger than House Of X / Powers Of X, who knows?”

The most recent installment of X Of Swords, Part 5 in Marauders #13, was released October 7th. Parts 6, 7 and 8 are due October 14th in Hellions #5, New Mutants #13, and Cable #5 respectively.

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