Marvel Comics has released a preview of its upcoming X of Swords: Stasis #1 (opens in new tab) one-shot, which marks the halfway point of the 22-chapter 'X of Swords' X-Men crossover.
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard with art from Pepe Larraz, X of Swords: Stasis #1 will focus at least in part on the still somewhat mysterious Swordbearers of Arakko, the villains of 'X of Swords' who grace the cover of the one-shot, and who were introduced as part of X of Swords: Stasis #1's announcement.(opens in new tab)
The Swordbearers, ten in number, are the rival faction going up against the X-Men in 'X of Swords,' carrying their own set of ten magic swords as prophesied by Saturnyne when she set forth the rules of the contest that will determine whether the forces of Krakoa or Arakko gain passage through her domain of the Otherworld.
As with most 'X of Swords' solicitations, Marvel's official description of X of Swords: Stasis #1 is sparse, reading simply "A ritual. A parliament. A game begins."
The central figure of the Swordbearers, Annihilation, may be Apocalypse's wife Genesis, who was stranded in Arakko when it broke off from Krakoa – but that identity may change, or be revealed as a bait-and-switch, given the gold mask of Annihilation takes over the mind of the wearer, potentially meaning one of the X-Men could be subverted by its power.
"One of my favorite things about being a writer and writing at Marvel is taking characters and putting them in new archetypes, new roles, new challenges, so the whole concept of Krakoa is like catnip to me," co-writer Howard tells Newsarama of the mystery behind the Swordbearers.
"So specifically in 'X of Swords,' a big part of it is constantly seeing the characters challenged the deepest ways they can be challenged," she continues. "As far as how do we approach putting characters in new roles in general? It's always that it has to be additive. We don't want to take characters backwards, we want to challenge them in new ways and tell a story that hasn't been told before."
Here's the gallery of interior pages and covers from October 28's X of Swords: Stasis #1.
Getting caught up on 'X of Swords?' Here's everything you need to know to dive into the X-Men event.