X-Men meets sci-fi in ambitious new comic



Last summer, we slept, and the world changed. The X-Men charted a new path, creating for themselves a mutant nation on an island called Krakoa.

Fan-favorite writer Jonathan Hickman (“House of X”, “Powers of X”) and the fresh voice of writer Tini Howard (“eXcalibur”, “Euthanauts”) have joined superstar artist Pepe Larraz (“House of X”, “Uncanny Avengers”) to kick off the X-Men crossover event of the summer (or autumn now, thanks to COVID delays) with the triple-sized 66-page one-shot issue “X of Swords: Creation” #1, along with colorist Marte Gracia (“House of X”, “Powers of X”) and letterer Clayton Cowles (“Mister Miracle”, “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen”).


A dark world is depicted in the comic artwork of artist Pepe Larraz and colorist Marte Garcia. (Submitted)

In this first chapter of a lengthy crossover, Hickman and Howard combine their respective futurist and fantasy approaches for a high-stakes swordfighting tournament, ten combatants presumably fighting to the death. “X of Swords: Creation” continues Hickman’s exploration of mutant past and future, as well as Howard’s showcasing of the magical realm of Otherworld. In this blending of superheroes with both futuristic sci-fi and magical fantasy, Hickman and Howard are scripting something ambitious and unique in the current landscape of mainstream comics.

The real stars here are the art team of Larraz and Gracia, who have not worked together much since last summer. In this book, Larraz displays harsher shade and contrast than in previous work, and with Gracia’s rich hues adding further depth, this is one of the most visually striking comics of the year. Their deftly rendered textures allow for the genres to blend more seamlessly, with magic towers that shine as brightly as space stations and computer lights.


A meeting of powerful minds is portrayed in “X-Men: Creation.” (Submitted)

Cowles employs mixed-case lettering, a polarizing move in some circles, but it allows for some interesting creative flourishes that standard lettering would not, including a moment that displays a creature speaking in a fantasy language with an omnilingual mutant, whose replies are in English, and the variation in size and shape of letters between them enhances the visual representation of the language barrier only that character can pass.

Introductory and explanatory data pages expand the story and allow new readers to dive right in to the story, so I can recommend this comic to just about anyone with even a passing interest in Marvel’s merry mutants.

“X of Swords: Creation” #1 is available now in comic book stores and digitally on comiXology.