Marvel Comics has released a preview of interior pages for X-Men #15 by Mahmud Asrar and Sunny Gho, which puts 'X of Swords' into its endgame, as the first of three final chapters in the line-wide X-Men crossover arriving on November 25.
The pages depict the start of the final battle of the 'X of Swords' tournament, in which Apocalypse faces off with Annihilation, the lord of Arakko, who also happens to be his long-lost wife, Genesis. The tournament stands at 19-19, with the entire competition and more hanging in the balance.
Of course, Genesis takes off the Annihilation mask at the start of the fight – meaning that whoever wins the fight also wins the helmet. But whoever bears the helmet becomes Annihilation, meaning if Apocalypse wins, and puts it on, he could be lost to the forces of Amenth, the world where Annihilation comes from.
In typical 'X of Swords' fashion, the solicitation for X-Men #15 is brief and cryptic, reading simply "A great division. Bitter victories. Bitterer hearts."
Here's the gallery of covers and interior pages from X-Men #15:
'X of Swords' co-architect Tini Howard previously told Newsarama that Apocalypse's fate was central to the narrative of 'X of Swords' – potentially foreshadowing big changes to his status quo as a result of the crossover.
"Apocalypse was the first character I really became compelled by their future when I read the treatment for what Jonathan was planning, and was given the offer to come on board if I liked the ideas and be a part of them," Howard explains. "I did – and the thing that really stuck with me was this idea for Apocalypse, what sort of person he becomes."
With 'X of Swords' approaching its finale, here's what we've learned from the 19 chapters so far.