X-Men (5th series) #14

Issue Date: 
January 2021
Story Title: 
X of Swords, Chapter 12

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Mahmud Asrar & Lenil Francis Yu (artists), Sunny Gho (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Alexander Lozano (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Apocalypse and his wife Genesis reunite at the Starlight Citadel. Genesis shows Apocalypse the Twilight Sword which she is in possession of. They take a walk through a garden, where Genesis relays events that took place on Arakko when she was separated from Apocalypse centuries ago, and how she came to wear the Annihilation mask, and the desires that she has as a result of the mask – including desire to take Krakoa. She thinks Apocalypse has gone soft and warns him that she will soon see what he and Krakoa have to offer.

Full Summary: 

Otherworld, at the Starlight Ciradel, which floats over the mysterious realm. The ancient mutant Apocalypse stands under a large tree, he hangs his head as he looks to the ground. 'This place feels like a refuge – where the weak go to hide. Are you hiding, my love?' a voice calls out. Apocalypse quickly looks up and sees his wife, Genesis, standing under an alcove nearby. Apocalypse tells Genesis that he wanted peace, just a bit of peace before tomorrow and what tomorrow brings. 'So you're a man of peace now? Have you fallen so far?' Genesis responds. Apocalypse notes that Genesis is carrying the Twilight Blade and asks 'Who, again, is it here that has fallen?' Genesis holds the blade up, 'What? This thing?' she replies. Genesis explains that the Twilight Blade is just a tool. 'Is it powerful? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes' she states. 'Is it the most dangerous thing in this garden?' she asks, before shoving it into the ground and boasting that it most certainly is not.

Apocalypse reaches for his Scarab Blade and remarks that he feels like Genesis is trying to test him. Genesis holds her hands out and points out that the testing comes on the morrow, before admitting that she was hoping they could talk. Apocalypse frowns, while Genesis asks him if he wants to know what happened to them, how they came to be here and how she holds this blade. 'You are less of a mystery. The High Summoner has kept us informed while keeping you misinformed – but I know how they speak of you and of this nation you helped form... So, surely... you'd rather talk than fight, no?' Genesis smiles. Apocalypse shoves his Scarab Blade into the ground and utters 'Every bone in me aches at the sight of you'. Genesis approaches him, hand reaching out as she tells him to come and walk with her. Apocalypse takes her hand and they walk off into the garden.

flashback images, narrated by Genesis in the present:
Genesis tells Apocalypse that she knows he remembers the high halcyon days of mutantdom, and of Okkara the one land of mutants. 'It was ancient before that word existed but not yet old in the way they were old' she adds, before revealing that the Twilight Sword of the enemy tore the world asunder, and from the chasm between them – from Amenth – the enemy poured into this world. Apocalypse and Genesis battled the enemy army of Annihilation, until, at great cost, it was pusjed back through, along with Arakko itself, and the chasm was sealed shut. There were whispers in Arakko of why the husband of Genesis, the father of the Horsemen, remained behind. Some rumors kiss the edge of truth, while some are lies that offended Genesis.

Genesis tells Apocalypse that they both know the real reason he stayed behind – and the only truth that matters is that what should never have been cleaved in two was separated forever. Husband from wife. Parent from child. Arakko from Krakoa. She wonders how she describes the sound of the chasm closing. 'If I say it was as if one thousand angels died screaming bloody thunder, I know that number is low' Genesis remarks, adding that it was deafening, maddening – the alien song of the world of Amenth. Genesis reveals that hundreds of mutants lost their minds and fled into the wasteland that surrounded Arakko – they lose one tenth of their strength in less than hour. But, still, they steadied themselves, regrouped and readied for war. Genesis recalls looking out, and instead of an enemy army and a fight to the death, she saw nothing but an endless field decorated with the bodies of a fallen horde.

Thankfully, the White Sword and his One Hundred Champions were able to buy them time, and so they used it well. Genesis informs Apocalypse that she never witnessed such work as the wonders constructed by the brave mutant alchemists and engineers who made an armor for Krakoa, and they raised ten towers – and all the land between them became a killing field. When the army of Amenth finally came, they showed them what real mutants could become when forced to truly fight for survival – the mutants of Arakko became a machine of death – and for thousands of years, the Amenthii horde died at their border.

Genesis informs Apocalypse that generations of mutants lived and died never knowing defeat – the children of war, strong and fit for the days in which they lived. The Horseman called War even gave birth to a son, a Summoner. But they lived only inside the walls, and it made them arrogant and ignorant of what Amenth truly was. But, the high mutant prophet, Idyll, went blind after seeing their sure defeat in the future. Genesis remembers laughing at him and threatening to remove his weak head from his weak shoulders. Idyll sounded a warning, but Genesis knew – and knows – no fear. She cowers from nothing. So, she raised an army of mutant reavers, and for the first time, took their war to Amenth.

The mutant reavers left their walls behind and drove their way into enemy territory. Genesis swears to Apocalypse that she bathed nightly in the blood of those she had broken on the battlefield. Genesis reveals that two hundred years ago, they pushed so far that they reached the Ivory Spire, the stronghold of the long-thought-lost White Sword, Purity. Their greatest healer, External and immortal, the White Sword, resurrected his One Hundred Champions every morning and then rode out to slaughter Amenthi demons. The death and resurrection cycle that he lived each day had become his religion, and to say that the millennia had passed changed him is to sound like a fool. To everyone else, the White Sword was as alien as the horde he raged against, and they were the same to him.

It was not that the White Sword killed scores of mutants when he drove Genesis' army out that pained her so – she knows that if they were fit they would have survived – but it was more that when they first tasted defeat it was at the hands of one of their own. Spoiled meat was the first of many ill meals that followed, and Genesis and her remaining army returned to Arakko, where she found Isca waiting for her. Genesis asks Apocalypse if he remembers her sweet sister. She reminds him that Isca's mutant power was that she could not lose, and of how she wept when it drove Isca to join Amenth in the war against Okkara, so she was overjoyed to see her sister had returned, and imagined that Isca's return heralded not just their reunion, but their inevitable victory. But Genesis was never more wrong, and soon discovered that Isca had been sent to invite her to parlay with Annihilation at the seat of a golden helm's power – the capital city of Amenth. Isca begged, and Genesis broke – something which still shames her to this day. But she agreed to hear what the golden helm had to say, and would entertain the words of Annihilation.

When Genesis entered the great hall, the words of the prophet Idyll rang in her ears and she understood that she was witnessing Arakkii doom with her own eyes – those mutants who fled in the crossing – the one in ten they thought lost to the wastelands – Genesis found out what happened to them. What they thought was simply thousands of years of battle with the enemy was actually just the enemy biding their time – breeding the mutants they had captured with Amenthi demons to produce a hybrid warrior race. This was the birth of Summoners and the origin  of the bacl experiments of the vile schools – and Genesis was enraged. Nevertheless, she was led down a large path between the Amenthi forces by Isca, and presented to Annihilation who stood on the altar of a temple.

The golden helm offered Genesis a kind of peace – but instead, she offered Annihilation her sword. They battled to the death as all of Amenth looked on. She tells Apocalypse that he should have seen her – she fought for all of them – and won. She took Annihilation's life, took her head, and in doing so sacrificed her own. Genesis did not know what victory meant, did not know what it cost. Whoever defeats the helm claims the helm. Whoever wears that crown controls the land. It is called Annihilation for a reason. The golden helm is the only thing that keeps the Amenthi horde in check, and without it, the demons of that dark world would consume everything – or die trying. But, Genesis refused to wear it for one hundred years. And so, for one hundred years, as a prisoner, Genesis watched as the man horde, the true might of Amenth, cracked the walls of Arakko. She watched mutants die and towers fall – but still she refused.

Genesis reminds Apocalypse that she had led the mutants to Arakko to die if need be – to save the Earth from Amenthi hell – but informs him that there was still hope, and she held on to the hope that Apocalypse would raise a new mutant society, a greater one, and with its coming a mutant army that would save them all. But then, word came from inside the walls – the greatest mutants and mages of Arakko – damn fools who had forgotten their history – had carved holes in the heavens and re-opened what so many had died to close. Genesis knew that it was a cry for help, a surrender – and that all the old ways were lost.

And so, Genesis placed the golden helm on her head and surrendered to Amenth. She hoped to control it, to dominate it – but she failed, and Annihilation marched the horde into Arakko. Arakko surrendered to the golden helm, as did their children, as did the whole of the land. Annihilation wants it all – and because it wants it all... so does Genesis. And so, the horde moved on to Dryador, and forward to Krakoa.

'So now you know what really happened' Genesis smiles. 'The price I paid... my greatest victory... my greatest defeat' she adds. Apocalypse tells Genesis that she can fight it, as she is the strongest person he knows. 'No one is that strong, my love. No one' Genesis replies. She adds that she fights for it, and now it wants everything – so she wants everything. 'Most of all... I want Krakoa' Genesis reveals.

Apocalypse folds his arms and tells his wife that Krakoa is not hers to take. 'I... we have built something there. For all mutants. That includes our children. And you' Apocalypse adds. Genesis asks if it can last, and points out that Arakko was forged in war – strong and fit, built to truly endure. 'What you have made... was it with soft hands and raised on a soft earth? I look at you and I think so' Genesis declares, before turning and walking away from Apocalypse, telling him that she will soon see what Krakoa has to offer. 'And what you, my love, have to offer as well' she adds.

Characters Involved: 


Genesis III

in flashback images:
Genesis III
Death, Famine, Pestilence, War (all First Horsemen of Apocalypse)
Various Mutants
Summoner as a child
White Sword
Amenthi Daemons

Story Notes: 

This issue follows X of Swords: Stasis #1 and continues in Marauders #14.

This issue features a one-page display of the first, second and third laws of Krakoa – Make more mutants; Destroy our enemies; Defend this broken land.

This issue also features a brief text-only, one-page article on the mutants of Arakko, detailing how they were prisoners in their own land, and noting the last prophecy of Idyll, the daughter of Idyll who is the son of Idyll, whose final prophecy before she was silenced by a Vile engineer. The prophecy reads “Only under the black moon will the two become one. A white light will judge them, and a red land will see them split forever.”

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