X-Men (5th series) #16

Issue Date: 
February 2021
Story Title: 
Sworded Out

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Phil Noto (artist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Adam Kubert & Marte Gracia (variant cover artists), 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: 

Cyclops, Cable and Prestige watch as the islands of Krakoa and Arakko prepare to reunite – but something goes wrong, as it appears that the islands don't like each other anymore, recoiling when they touch. Later, Cypher speaks with Krakoa, and Krakoa manifests a large avatar of itself, which carries Cypher out into the ocean around the islands, where they meet with a large avatar of Arakko, and they begin to speak. Later still, Cypher relays the conversation to the Quiet Council, where he explains that he doesn’t think the islands like each other anymore, as it has been thousands of years since they last saw each other. The Quiet Council congratulate Cypher, sort of, on his marriage to Bei after Magneto asked what the point of the recent swords ritual was, before Cypher informs the Council that the problem is more with Arakko's side. Storm mentions what little they know of the mutants on Arakko, save for the few they met during the sword tournament, and Cypher reports that there are about twenty times more mutants on Arakko as there are on Krakoa, to which Emma asks what they are going to do with them all. Later again, Magneto and Xavier arrive on Arakko with a Krakoan gateway flower. They are greeted by Isca the Unbeaten, and discuss the government structure of both islands – Arakko is governed by the GreatnRing of Arakko, while Isca is amused by the little “Quiet Council” in charge of Krakoa. She declines the offer of the Krakoan flower, and reminds Magneto and Xavier that the Arakkii are a people hardened by war, although she does promise to take their offer of an alliance to the Great Ring, before warning Xavier and Magneto not to come to Arakko again. Even later, Xavier and Magneto meet with Cyclops and Jean Grey.  They invite Jean to return to the Council, and invite Cyclops to join it. However, both decline, instead, they plan on forming a new X-Men team, a team of mutants for the people – and voted for by the people!


Full Summary: 

Krakoa, where Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops and his children Rachel Summers a.k.a. Prestige and Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable – the teenage version – stand on a hillside, looking out over the island, they are focused on a large volcano on the island next to Krakoa, Arakko, an island that is not as lush as Krakoa. 'So... how's this going to work?' Cable asks. Cyclops tells his son that he would be lying if he thought anything he would say would make sense, but he will try to do his best. Cyclops explains that the Arakko Point is a small, dormant piece of Arakko that joined with Krakoa – the two halves of what was once a single island. 'The one land. Okkara' Rachel remarks. 'Exactly' Cyclops tells her, before revealing that, right now, Krakoa is pushing the Arakko Point away from itself, and disengaging the smaller island – because that is where the External Gate is located. He adds that by inverting the gate, which glows with energy within the top of the volcano, is supposedly how they are going to get the whole of Arakko here.

'Okay. Sure. But, again... how's that work?' Cable asks, rubbing the back of his head. Rachel folds her arms, while Cyclops, hands on hips, admits that he has no idea. 'Well, whatever it is... it's starting' Rachel points out, motioning to the energy that is rising up from the Point. The energy is blinding, so the three powerful mutants shield their eyes – and then suddenly, it stops. The Summers family look back across at the Point, 'Oh... that's big' Rachel remarks. 'Pfft. I've seen bigger' Cable smirks. 'Shut up' Rachel tells him, as they look at a huge mountain that has appeared on Arakko, with several tall spire-like points reaching upwards. The vines connecting Krakoa to Arakko suddenly move closer together again, 'Oh man...  I... I don't want to watch this again' Rachel mutters as the vines writhe around each other.

But not for long, and the vines quickly separate, moving further and further away from each other. Cable asks if something is wrong, and tells his father that he doesn't think there is any love on these islands. 'No, son... it appears there is not' Cyclops agrees.

Later, Doug Ramsey a.k.a. Cypher looks out towards the transformed Arakko and asks Krakoa 'So how do you want to do this? Carrier pigeon? Do you even know what that is? Megaphone? There are other options...' his voice trails off, as the face Krakoa makes appears next to Cypher and starts speaking. 'I don't know how I'm supposed to -' Cypher starts to reply. Krakoa says something else, and Cypher asks him what he means by meeting in the middle. 'Oh. Okay' Cypher realizes. 'I get it now' he adds, as Krakoa transforms part of its body into a tall, humanoid figure that resembles a tall tree with arms and legs. 'Easy' Cypher remarks as Krakoa picks him up. 'I'm delicate' Cypher calls out as Krakoa lumbers towards the water that now separates Krakoa from Arakko. At the same time, a similar manifestation of Arakko can be seen walking in the same direction. 'All right' Cypher remarks. 'Let's figure this out' he suggests as both manifestations of Arakko and Krakoa sit down opposite each other in the water.

Later still, the Quiet Council have gathered, and Cypher stands in the middle of their meeting tables. 'Bad news, it's not going to happen' Cypher reports as he looks at Charles Xavier and Magneto. 'There's not going to be a reunification of the islands' Cypher announces. 'Why not?' Charles asks. Cypher explains that it has been thousands of years, and they don't seem interested in the idea, adding that he honestly doesn't think Krakoa and Arakko like each other anymore. 'Well... can't they just talk it out?' Kate Pryde asks as she sits alongside Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. Cypher turns to them and tells her that it is not that easy. 'I mean, sure, the base morphology is there, but lexicon drift, branching deviations in syncope and apocope... to say nothing of the environmental changes of how existing in a warlike setting affects an evolving vocabulary. Kate, seriously, they don't even speak the same language'.

'Then what was the point of all this? The swords, the rituals, the tournament...' Magneto's voice trails off. 'I've got a wife now' Cypher smiles. 'And I'm sure you're both happy' Emma Frost remarks, uninterested as she looks at her gloved fingers. 'I'm not' Mystique smirks. 'Nonsense. This is a time for joy. I applaud you on your conquest, young mutant. Love is... a complicated adversary and today you are a victor', Exodus smiles. Nightcrawler smiles and congratulates Doug, telling him that he is happy for him. 'And may your first mutant be an Omega mutant' Shaw adds. Cypher starts to thank everyone, before Xavier declares that they have other, more urgent, matters at hand. 'Isn't that right, Douglas?' Xavier asks. 'Yes, sir' Cypher responds. Magneto turns to Mr Sinister and remarks 'What about you, Sinister? You must have some insight into all this since you are, in fact, the only person in this room with experience on that island. Care to illuminate us?' he asks. Sinister scowls as he responds that he would rather not – he's been through a lot, and doesn't want to talk about it.

Charles turns his attention back to Cypher and asks him to please ask Krakoa if there is any way that their two islands can find some common ground. Cypher sighs, before turning to the manifestation of Krakoa who is nearby and asking 'Are you sure you won't change your mind?' Krakoa responds to Cypher, who tells the Council that Krakoa said it isn't really a problem on their end – it's the other island and its intractability. Cypher tells the Council that he can't stress how different Krakoa and Arakko sound, and that he thinks it might extend to all of them as well. 'Who?' Storm asks. 'The mutants on Arakko' Cypher reports. Nightcrawler remarks that the mutants on Arakko are so easily forgotten when you have never matched a name to a face, and adds that there are virtually no reference to them in any of the reports they have seen. Storm announces that a few who entered the tournament were from Arakko, but most of them old enough to come from when the islands were one. She adds that it is shameful, but this is really the first chance they have had to engage their long-lost brothers and sisters.


Kate asks how many they are, and Cypher reveals that he did find that out when the islands were talking – it seems there are about twenty times as many mutans on Arakko than there are on Krakoa. 'So many...' Mystique utters. 'That's a problem well beyond two islands talking to each other. What are we going to do with them all?' Emma asks. 'Well... that seems like an entirely different conversation than this one. Doesn't it?' Cypher remarks, while Charles and Magneto remain silent, looking lost in thought.

Later, on Arakko, a strange creature with one eye in the center of its head, and two large horns sticking out either side, makes its way through some part of the red-tinted forest – only for a sword to slash down into its back, killing it. Isca the Unbeaten emerges, holding the sword, 'I assume you don't know much of the creatures of Amenth. You have to root them out entirely. These...demons...reproduce asexually, and if you leave one alive, in a month it will have bred an entire pack' Isca announces, revealing that this is how the fallen world was – everything can kill you, but apathy would kill you just as surely as tooth and claw. 'So we make sure, understand? Leave no enemy alive. Ever'.

Magneto and Professor X walk towards Isca, with Xavier holding a Krakoan flower. Magneto tells Isca that they understand. 'You can never be too careful, I always say. Charles here, however, is a hopeless romantic. It's unfortunate, I know. He's quick to trust and gives us a wide berth' Magneto remarks. Running her hand along her blade, Isca remarks that she will keep that in mind, before asking how they wish to proceed with their situation. Charles asks Isca if she could expound on what she thinks their situation is. Isca states that she has spoken to the boy-husband of Bei – their Cypher – who has informed her of the intentions of Arakko – that the two islands will remain two lands. 'The question is, what of our two peoples?' Isca asks. 'Ah, of course. But before we get into that, we brought you a gift. A gateway flower' Xavier tells Isca. 'To ease our travel. For... comfort' Isca smiles.

'Yes. As to the other, do you have a proposal? Intentions beyond peace or some kind of unification?' Charles asks, informing Isca that they were hoping for a coalition or to offer some kind of shared power structure between them. Isca explains that the Great Ring of Arakko is the government here, and that beyond the fallow years, it has been so for thousands of years. 'What of yours?' she asks. Magneto informs her that it is called the Quiet Council and that it is a noble body full of wise leaders who will rule for thousands of years and beyond. Isca falls silent and smirks, before informing Magneto that she sees through him – all the way to the truth. 'You are children running a child government' she declares. She points out that is not necessarily a bad thing, just inexperienced and prone to bearing fruit of that tree. She asks her visitors to tell her of this world that they rule and to tell her of Earth.

Xavier pauses, before reporting that it is a beautiful place, but that it has its problems. 'What world doesn't?' he adds, explaining that they don't rule it – they share it with humanity. 'Humanity? Humans? I must confess... I'm surprised that's... a thing that persists here' Isca replies. 'Still, thousands of years. Growth, invention, survival...these have a way of sharpening a tool. And if you share the world with them, they must be formidable. Worthy of an impasse'. 'They're just men' Magneto tells her. Isca falls silent, before telling Magneto 'I know that our ways are not yours. Time has changed our two lands – changed us – but I need you to listen to me'. Isca then declares that her people are a hard people made harder by war, and that they have no peace in them. 'Perhaps, with time, with a little grace, we may become as you. Accepting. Gentle. Soft. But until that day...I have to warn you...do not come to this place again like this – with dreams in your head and flowers in your hand...for this is a land of swords' Isca declares. Magneto and Xavier look shocked and say nothing, before Isca turns and walks away, informing them that she will take their offer of unity to the Ring, and that they will consider it.

Later still, back on Krakoa, Jean Grey and Cyclops meet with Xavier and Magneto at the empty Grove, where the Quiet Council usually gather. 'So you think they're going to be a problem, Professor?' Jean asks. Xavier tells her that he thinks they will need to be at their strongest to weather these uncertain times. He tells Jean that, with her resignation and Apocalypse's prolonged, and possibly permanent, absence, there are now two open seats on the Quiet Council. Magneto remarks that there will have to be a vote, of course, but he thinks they will have the numbers to push it through. 'Jean, your reclamation should be a formality. Scott, your reputation should make yours one as well' Magneto states. Xavier informs the two that he would like for them both to fill the empty seats.

Jean and Scott look at each other, and Jean pauses, before responding 'No', while Cyclops thanks Professor X, and states that he can't take it, either. 'Why not?' Magneto asks. Jean explains that it feels like they have something more important to do now. 'The X-Men. If there's one thing that Scott and I have learned through the beginning of our great Krakoan experiment, it's this... the people of our nation need to feel like someone is acting on their behalf. Not deciding what's best for them – not deciding what is and is not in their best interest – but someone who fights for them. And that's us' Jean declares. Magneto asks Cyclops about his specific responsibilities to the Council, to which Cyclops assures him he will still be a great captain and that the Council can call on him whenever the nation needs defending – but this has to be separate from that.

Charles remains silent, before smiling as he states that he can tell there is no talking either of them out of this. 'No, Charles. There isn't' Jean responds. Magneto asks if they have decided who is going to be on their team, and Cyclops points out that hr could always handpick a team that could get the job done, but that feels wrong. Charles asks them what they are going to do, and Jean suggests that if the X-Men are for the people, then they figured they would best leave that decision up to them. 'Were going to let the people vote' Cyclops smiles.

Characters Involved: 


Cable, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Prestige

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





Isca the Unbeaten

Story Notes: 

Rachel says 'I don't want to watch this again' a reference to X-Men (5th series) #2 in which she, Cable and Cyclops explored Arakko and witnessed the reunion between Arakko and Krakoa, which resulted in the islands mating.

Sinister was on Arakko in Hellions #6, part of the “X of Swords” event.

This issue contains a one-page text-only information on the Great Ring of Arakko, listing the various seats and the members:


1 – Isca the unbeaten

2 – Idyll

3 – Tarn the Uncaring


4 – Ora Serrata the Witness

5 – Stulgid

6 – Lodus Logos


7 – Latuca

8 – [Redacted]

9 – Sobunar

The Ring also includes Arrako and Redroot (based on Otherworld) as adjacent members.

There is a note which indicates the Ring only has nine recognized seats, but that there have been rumors of three additional seats apart from the Ring itself, known as “Night”, but the members and purpose remain a mystery.

Also included is a one-page diagram of the Great Ring of Arakko, illustrating where the members sit.

Jean Grey resigned from the Quiet Council during “X of Swords”.

This issue also features an “Election of the X-Men” poster, which notes that this will be an annual election, that nominations for representatives are being accepted, followed by a formal vote and unveiling at the first Hellfire Gala. The poster also indicates that members of the Quiet Council are not eligible for membership.

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