Looks like good ol’ king of the X-office Jonathan Hickman has something exciting up his sleeve for fans who love both the X-Men and “legendary blades.” The event called X of Swords (pronounced Ten of Swords, like the Minor Arcana tarot card) was announced at C2E2 along with some epic Mark Brooks art featuring a whole roster of X-characters wielding gnarly swords. It’ll run across both Hickman’s new X-Men series as well as Tini Howard and Marcus To’s aptly named Excalibur series.
The official announcement describes the crossover thusly: “Threatened by powerful forces from the unknown, ten mutants will rise up to defend their home. Arming themselves with legendary blades both new and familiar, mutantkind will finally meet its mystical destiny.” As someone incredibly cool, I obviously love both of these things and have put together a list that works as a primer for some of the blades featured in Brooks’ incredibly over-the_top promo art as well as some other “Legendary Blades” that may make an appearance in the new crossover.
The Muramasa Blade
Wolverine: Origins #5. Art by Joe Quesada, Dani Miki, and Richard Isanove. Marvel Comics.
This epic blade takes center stage in the X of Swords promo image. Wolverine wields the supernatural sword, which also just happens to be the only weapon that can kill him. The Muramasa Blade was forged by the immortal blacksmith of the same name, though its origins have taken form in two iterations.
The original Muramasa blade was forged from a fragment of the blacksmith’s own soul, making it incredibly strong and granting it the ability to possess anyone who holds it for too long. The second version of the blade, which is likely the one we see in the X of Swords promo image, was made specifically for Wolverine and was forged using a fragment of his soul! METAL!!! It can also cut through Cyclops’ optic beams as well as multiple other energy-based mutations.
Magik: Illyana and Storm #4. Written by Chris Claremont. Art by Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer, and Ken Feduniewicz. Letters by Tom Orzechowski. Marvel Comics.
The second blade on the list is slightly better known than the Muramasa Blade, and has recently enjoyed the spotlight due to the upcoming New Mutants movie. Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. the X-Man known Magik forged the sword when she was stuck in Limbo. In another supernatural set-up, Illyana used her own life force mixed with some kind of terrifying eldritch magic to make the blade appear to help her.
One of the most interesting things about this blade is it consistently grows stronger the more that Illyana uses it. Though it can be used as a massive physical weapon, it is most powerful when used to fight against and ultimately end magic spells, curses, and beings. The sword also once allowed Kitty Pryde to control Limbo like Illyana.
The Blade of the Phoenix / The Phoenix Blade
Uncanny X-Men #479. Written by Ed Brubaker. Art by Billy Tan, Danny Miki, Allen Martinez. Colors by Frank D’Armata. Letters by Joe Caramanga. Marvel Comics.
Rachel Summers is the alt-universe daughter of Scott and Jean, so it’s probably not surprising that the blade we see her armed with here is known as the Phoenix Blade. But what may shock you, due to that name, is that she didn’t actually get it from her parents. Rachel was given the Phoenix Blade by her one-time lover and current Starjammer, Korvus.
The blade has existed for over half a century and was once wielded by a genocidal member of the Shi’ar, Rook’Shir, who was corrupted by the massive power of the Phoenix Force. After their rampage, a small amount of the Phoenix Force stayed within the blade, giving it its name. It’s important to note that only those directly descended from Rook’Shir’s bloodline can hold the blade, supposedly. (Bet you didn’t know X-Men had this much intense cosmic fantasy lore!)
Disney/20th Century Studios
Though her history is complex (and slightly offensive), one thing about Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke a.k.a. Captain Britain that’s always stayed the same is her psychic construction power. The mutation allows her to craft weapons with her mind and those powers have become iconic in their own right as well as an instantly recognizable part of Betsy’s character. It looks like she’s got her psi-sword at full power for this promo piece, so we can imagine that it’ll likely that it might be playing a solid part in the legendary blade exploration of X of Swords.
The legendary sword of Excalibur has long been part of Marvel lore thanks to the joys of public domain law. First appearing in 1955’s Black Knight #1, the mythical blade has spent time in the hands of many of Marvel’s heroes and it even inspired the name of the classic British X-spinoff Excalibur.
The powers in the comics have varied but are generally similar to the properties from the classic Arthurian tale. Basically, Excalibur can kill gods, immortals, and spirits. We’re noticing a theme here, so it definitely seems like the foe the X-Men are taking on is going to be omnipotent or at least magical.
The Ebony Blade
Black Panther #22. Written by Reginald Hudlin. Art by Manuel Garcia, Sean Parsons, and Jay Leisten. Marvel Comics.
Speaking of Black Knight, the next sword we think we might see appear in X of Swords is his very own weapon, the Ebony Blade. Another magical creation, this sword was enchanted by Merlin and passed down through the Whitman family until it fell into the hands of Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight. The powers of the Ebony blade are many; it once again can cut through (some) enchantments and enhanced armor, but isn’t strong enough to pierce adamantium.
In an interesting inversion of Thor and his Hammer, the blade can transport its user to wherever the blade is, but that all depends on the power and will of the wielder. Like most of our legendary blades, Ebony has been in the possession of a whole roster of Marvel characters, most notably the hero Black Panther and the villainous elf Malekith. Another key part of the sword’s mythos is that acts perpetrated with it can affect the user and the sword itself. So hopefully whoever takes charge of it won’t kill too many innocents (or villains) as that won’t go well for anyone.
One of the weirdest creations in our proverbial armory, Dragonfang is just that. Crafted by an extra-dimensional wizard known as Kahji-da, the sword is, according to folklore, made from the tusk of a cosmic dragon. If you recognize the name or the beautiful blade it’s likely because it was recently seen in Thor: Ragnarok. That’s right; this is Valkyrie’s trusty weapon.
Aside from being indestructible, Dragonfang gives its holder the ability to control one of the Valkyries’ winged steeds, and it can also be utilized to shatter mythical barriers, which once again sounds like it’ll come in handy against whatever foe the X of Swords team is going to face. Just like Mjolnir, you can summon Dragonfang to your own hand. And in a mystical twist of fate, it was awarded to Valkyrie by Doctor Strange after she returned the lost Ebony Blade. So many swords!
Journey into Mystery (1952) #117. Jack Kirby and Jack Lee, inks by Vince Colleta, letters by Artie Simek. Marvel Comics.
The final legendary blade that we think might pop up is another Asgardian adjacent creation. This sword has existed in many iterations but the one we’re thinking of is the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee creation that’s also known as the Oversword. It’s a giant blade that, if ever unsheathed, could end the world. As I’m writing this, I realize that this could likely be the unknown force that the X-teams have to fight against! Maybe someone has taken control of the Odinsword? Maybe someone is trying to use it for nefarious means? Who knows! Either way, we would like to see it!!
Feature Image: Marvel Comics