X-Men (5th series) #15

Issue Date: 
January 2021
Story Title: 
X of Swords, Chapter 20

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Mahmud Asrar (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Peach Momoko (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Jay Bowen & Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

On Krakoa, Cyclops and Jean prepare to meet with the Quiet Council. Cyclops thinks back on how he never thought they would have the paradise they have now and remembers how much they have struggled to get where they are – but his primary focus is embarking on a rescue mission to Otherworld to save his son. Cyclops and Jean appear before the Quiet Council, where they inform the Krakoan government that their son Cable was able to send a telepathic distress call to them, and that they have learned that their allies are losing the battle and are in a bad shape. The Council discuss their options regarding whether to let Cyclops lead a team into Otherworld, noting the grave danger that places Krakoa in should the gateway be breached by the enemy. Nightcrawler and Kate Pryde want to go on the mission too, but Sebastian Shaw suggests that they cannot, as that would leave Krakoa without a governing body. The majority of the Council vote against the mission, so Jean Grey quits the Council and tells them she is going regardless. She convinces Nightcrawler not to quit the Council and Cyclops tells Kate they are going through a gateway, so she can't join them. Emma Frost telepathically communicates with Cyclops and offers assistance in her own way. Exodus reminds the Council what happens to mutants who die on Otherworld – that they are changed forever if they are resurrected. The Council also vote to close the gates, and Cyclops reminds the Council that the X-Men are Krakoa's heroes, so he and Jean leave to embark on the rescue mission, with Xavier smiling as they go. Meanwhile, on Otherworld, Saturnyne watches over the next battle – this one between Apocalypse and his long-missing wife, Genesis. Genesis removes her Annihilation mask and the sword fight begins. Genesis breaks Apocalypse's sword and wounds her husband, before he fights back, until shoves his blade into her. Genesis falls to the ground, but Saturnyne is unhappy, as neither have won the battle and she must have a victor – so Genesis puts the Annihilation mask back on and vows to continue the fight.

Full Summary: 

Krakoa, where Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops looks out over the new home of mutantkind. Water cascades down the side of a large cliff into a blue lake surrounded by lush trees, bushes and strange colored plants. 'Are they ready?' Cyclops asks, turning his head slightly. Jean Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl emerges from behind some bushes and informs Scott that everyone is waiting for them. 'Are you ready?' she asks. 'I never thought we'd have this, Jean. This place. Our family. A real home. I mean, I dreamed of it... but what good has that ever done us?' Cyclops asks, frowning. 'Not much' Jean agrees. 'Not much at all. But here it is' Scott remarks. 'Here we are'. Jean tells Scott that he looks ready, 'For years, all we had was a little hope and lot of prayer – it was nothing, and that whole tine I never stopped fighting' Cyclops states. 'So what do people expect we're going to do now that we actually have something to fight for?' Jean asks. 'Exactly. Let's go get our boy' Scott replies as he holds Jean's hand and they step through a nearby gateway.

Cyclops and Jean walk hand-in-hand down the entrance way to the Grove. Cyclops thinks about how one hour ago their son, Nathan, cried out for them to save him – and now there is a voice screaming in his head “Why am I still here”. Cyclops knows the answer – the answer is because what they have built is bigger than what they want. Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and Kate Pryde all turn as Cyclops and Jean appear behind them. Nightcrawler looks over while Magneto and Professor X remain silent. Mystique, Exodus and Sinister appear not concerned by the arrival of Cyclops and Jean. A manifestation of Krakoa looms over Xavier and Magneto.

Meantime, on Otherworld, within the Starlight Citadel, where Opal Luna Saturnyne sits on her throne. Shogo the dragon perches behind the throne, wrapping his body around the throne area, while two servants wait nearby. Saturnyne announces that they have come to the end of it, and remarks that it is fitting they are tied, even more so that it falls to the both of them to decide how all this draws to a close. 'Husband against wife...will one of you yield, or will one of you die?' Saturnyne asks as Apocalypse and his long-missing wife, Genesis, who wears the Annihilation mask, stand in an arena before her, both holding their swords at the ready. 'Let's find out' Saturnyne exclaims. Apocalypse casts his eyes down and frowns as he asks Genesis 'If I am to die – and die at your hand – is it really to be like this? With your face hidden from me? Behind that mask?' he asks. 'Yes' Annihilation declares, before Genesis removes the mask, assuring Apocalypse that she is not hiding anything.

'I simply hoped to spare you the shame of looking in my eyes as you remembered who between us is fit... and who is not' Genesis declares as she drops the Annihilation mask to the ground. 'Shall we dance?' Genesis asks, grinning. Apocalypse moves forward and raises his Scarab sword, which clangs against Genesis' blade.

Back on Krakoa, Charles Xavier leans forward over the table he sits behind as he states 'It's hard not to see it... it's impossible not to feel it... it seems that bad days have yielded to even worse days'. Xavier reports that he senses the urgency in Jean's mind, and asks her what happened. Jean reveals that they have heard from Nathan, that he reached out to them from Otherworld. 'Two telepaths – even of your strength – shouldn't be able to span that chasm... it would take enormous...' Xavier begins, shocked. 'Desperation. Yes' Jean declares. She explains that Cable is hurt, they think badly, and that their connection was severed before they could find out everything. 'And in spite of the position we find ourselves in – at the whim of Saturnyne's rules – you want to go get him?' Magneto asks. 'I am going to get him' Cyclops announces. 'But that's not the whole of it, Professor. Krakoa is...at risk' Jean states. 'Well then, sympathies, of course, but perhaps lead with that instead of whining about your personal misfortune' Sebastian Shaw suggests, while he examines his fingernails.

Cyclops frowns, and pauses before announcing that they are losing very badly, and tells the Queit Council that unless something unexpected happens, their army is going to be coming through the External Gate. He reminds the Council that under the rules they agreed to, there is nothing they can do to stop it. 'How badly?' Magneto asks, standing up and leaning against the table. Jean tells him that is not clear, and they were cut off before Cable could say. 'But the hopelessness in his mind... it was...' Jean's voice trails off, as Magneto tells her that he understands. Magneto turns to Cyclops and remarks that he assumes he has a course of action in his mind. Cyclops confirms that he does, and announces that it is pretty straightforward. He informs the Council that he would like to take a strike team – one large enough to shake Otherworld to its foundations – on a smash-and-grab to get their people back.

'You intend to go through the Avalon Gate?' Sinister asks. Cyclops remarks that things are fluid, and confirms that it is an option. 'Best of luck' Sinister grins wickedly. Cyclops turns away from Sinister and tells the rest of the Council that the plan is to get their people back, and then close the gates for good. 'Cutting us off... forever?' Emma Frost asks. 'Or until something better comes along' Cyclops tells her. Sebastian states that this is bold talk, but that he hears a lot of hope and bluster, and no actual evidence that Cyclops can actually succeed. 'Not the violence part, of course – I know you have that in you – but the closing of the gates – how do you mean to do that?' he enquires. Cyclops reports that Beast recently stole the technology from Hordeculture to hijack gate control from Krakoa, so they can shut it down if they need to. 'So... save our people then close the gates to our nation. Does that cover it?' Magneto asks. 'It does' Cyclops confirms.

Sinister turns to Exodus and asks if he wants to explain the giant gaping hole in his heroic plan. 'I think you should. You tend to use small words. It's easier for them to follow' Sinister suggests. Exodus tells Cyclops that he is assuming success – without accounting for what it might cost if he fails. 'Look at me, Exodus. I am the mutant who has yet to fail this council. Do you think I plan to start now?' he asks. Magneto tells Cyclops that he has bravado, which is well earned, but that Exodus does have a point. 'There's no talking me out of this' Cyclops informs the Council. 'Then we wish you well... brave boy' Sinister utters. 'You forget. He won't be alone. I'm going to' Jean calls out. Nightcrawler raises a finger and smiles, announcing that he will join as well. 'Frankly – with all this talk of swords – I'm offended I wasn't invited in the first place' he adds. 'Count me in too' Kate Pryde remarks, but Shaw calmly tells the Council that they can't allow that. 'You... or them' he states. 'What?' Emma asks, turning to Shaw.

Shaw tells the Council that they are the government of a nation, and that they cannot lose so many of them in one moment of righteous madness. 'Failure, death and a flawed resurrection could result in a broken council. I demand that we vote on this...and I vote that leaving means losing your seat, for this body must endure, no?' Shaw declares, before asking for a show of hands. As Jean and Cyclops stand in the circle surrounded by the Council, Xavier, Magneto, Sinister, Exodus, Mystique, Frost and Shaw all raise their hands, while Nightcrawler and Kate do not. 'So it's settled. If you leave... you're done here' Shaw tells Jean, who is also a member of the Council. Jean closes her eyes as she tells the Council that she is disappointed. 'But you can't honestly think that’s going to stop me. I'm going' she reports.

Nightcrawler stands up and announces that he will be joining Jean, but Jean tells him that he should stay, as he is the soul of this place. 'Look at what's happening already... these people would be lost without you' Jean tells him, before thanking him. Kate smiles and tells Jean that won't work on her, as she is a troublemaker looking for trouble and won't be talked out of it. 'Kate... we're traveling through a gate' Cyclops points out. Kate scowls and swears while clenching a fist. Cyclops looks over to Emma, who telepathically tells him that he really shouldn't lie to Katherine, as lying doesn't suit him. 'Do you want me to come?' she then asks, speaking, so that everyone can hear her. Cyclops responds to Emma with his thoughts, telling her that they both know she is staying, that there is too much money on the table for the ask – which is why he would never ask. Cyclops then speaks and tells Emma that it is the same as the others, and that she needs to stay. Emma telepathically tells Cyclops that she will have the girls meet him, and Scott thanks her.

Scott turns to the Council and is about to say something, but Exodus interrupts him, telling him that he has forgotten something -  the cost. 'The problem is if you go and fail – if you die – we could lose you and those who go with you forever. Acceptable to some, I'm sure... quite unacceptable to others' Exodus declares. Mystique folds her arms  as she tells Cyclops that she is assuming he will expect them to keep the gate oen for him, which means that if he fails, they will actually be holding the doors open for an invasion, 'Which is foolish' she adds. Exodus frowns as  he reminds everyone that they have their nation to think of, that they have a duty. He raises his hand, as Shaw suggests that they vote for this and be done with it. 'All for closing the gates?' he asks as he raises his own hand. Xavier, Magneto, Mystique and Sinister join Shaw and Exodus, and outnumbering Scott, Jean, Kate, Emma and Kurt.

Xavier tells Scott that he is sorry, and points out that he doesn't have the luxury of thinking of just one mutant anymore, or even a few – no matter how much they mean to him. 'I understand, sir. Just like I'm sure you understand this vote doesn't change what I have to do'. Cyclops claims that he knows the difference between right and wrong, and he knows that necessary evil has nothing to do with it. 'I know these things because it's how I was raised' Cyclops smiles. 'Yes. It is' Cyclops replies, before Magneto asks Cyclops what he is going to do. Scott announces that he knows that risking everything they have built for a few lives doesn't work for all of them, he understands they don't have the luxury of thinking that way. 'But hearing you say it out loud... tasting it in my mouth... I find it unacceptable. So I do not accept it'

Back on Otherworld, Genesis takes a swipe at Apocalypse, who dodges, and responds by reaching forward with his sword – so Genesis knocks his arm aside and uses the opportunity to shove her blade into Apocalypse's upper arm. Apocalypse stumbles backwards, but not defeated.

On Krakoa, Cylcops reminds the council members that they formed to be the Quiet Council to be the government of Krakoa, and declares that the X-Men are its heroes, and that they will save those who need saving – whatever the cost. 'You read?' Cyclops asks Jean, who takes his hand and tells him that she has been waiting for him, as they walk hand-in-hand away from the council. 'Good boy' Magneto remarks, while Xavier smiles.

On Otherworld again, Genesis raises her blade as she tells her husband that he is wounded and weak. She remarks that she will give him one last kiss, and then she will hear his surrender and welcome him back to his rightful place at her side. She moves forward and swings her blade ahead, shattering Apocalypse's Scarab sword. She asks Apocalypse if he will yield. 'Yield?' Apocalypse responds, before announcing that he will not yield – not to fear and not to doubt. Genesis rushes towards him again and strikes him with her sword. 'And not to love' Apocalypse adds as he grabs Genesis by her wrist and yanks the sword from her. She screams as Apocalypse shoves the blade into her. 'Though it be the death of me' Apocalypse mutters.

Genesis falls to the ground, blood pooling around her, she looks up at Apocalypse and tells him to finish it – it's what she would do, before the shame kills her. 'Shame?' Apocalypse asks, dropping the sword to the floor. 'The shame would be me warring for thousands of years to see you again and this be the end of it'. Apocalypse looks over to Saturnyne and tells her that he doesn't want this. Saturnyne replies by telling Apocalypse that would matter if one were to care about needs and wants – and even if it did, the day demands a victor, so things must be settled. 'Put me on' the Annihilation maks cries out from nearby. The wounded Genesis reaches over and places the mask on, although she appears hesitant in doing so. 'Put me on' the mask declares again. Genesis stands up, the Annihilation mask covering her face, Annihilation exclaims 'Settled? Things are a long way from settled, witch. I am not dead. I have not yielded. Nothing is settled. Nothing!'

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Marvel Girl

Exodus, Emma Frost, Magneto, Mr Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Kate Pryde, Sebastian Shaw, Professor X (all Quiet Council)





Annihilation/Genesis III


Opal Luna Saturnyne


Story Notes: 

This issue follows Cable (4th series) #6 and continues in Excalibur (4th series) #15.

Cyclops and Jean learned of Cable's distress in Cable (4th series) #6.

This issue contains two text-only page reporting on the foundation of the Krakoan government and also discussing stopping the use of the term “X-Men”.

It is an ongoing plot point in “Marauders” that for some unknown reasons Kate Pryde cannot use Krakoan gates.

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