Comics Review: X of Swords

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is X of Swords in its entirety. Like the rest of the line since Hickman took the wheel, it’s a flawed, but mostly successful story.

The story takes place over 22 issues. A jaw-dropping number, to be sure. Unlike most events, this doesn’t really qualify as a crossover. With most events, you get about 6-8 issues of primary plot and a host of tie-ins that may contribute to the story but are largely ancillary. X of Swords is an ambitious undertaking in that the vast majority of the 22 issues make up one narrative through line and feel mostly essential to the final destination. It’s a credit to the editors, writers, and artists that the story feels of the same piece and not stitched together despite the varying creative teams attached to the individual issues.

If you are up for the investment in time and money, you’ll probably find something to like here if you are an X-Men fan. X of Swords brings in most of the fan favorites and then some. The narrative is pulling in the same direction but there is some storytelling diversity among the individual issues.

My big complaint with X of Swords is that the contest Hickman and company spend more than 12 issues (!) building towards is quite anticlimactic until the final few issues. This was intentional. I did chuckle a bit at the subversion of the expectations and choice to shift from such a dire tone as the contest actually began. Having said that, it left me with the feeling that the contest itself was filler to stretch between the first 1/2 of the event and the final 2-3 issues. I think the ending saved the story, but it’s certainly not a 22-issue tour de force.

I read the issues as they were released on Marvel Unlimited, so there is certainly something to be said for the ridiculous cost to admission for those who didn’t. I can’t say I’d be thrilled at having to buy 15 issues of something I might not have been reading to get the full story in a way that’s even more obtrusive than normal comics event storytelling. The format has its merits, but should be used sparingly or it will surely lead to even more cash-grabs.

X of Swords is ambitious, well put-together, and, largely, a good X-Men story. The current lineup of X writers, artists, and editorial has proven to know what they’re doing and if you like the X-Men I’d recommend picking this up (but probably while it’s on sale).

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