How 'X of Swords' Reshapes the 'X-Men' Franchise

X-Men X of Swords Promo-Mark Brooks/Marvel Entertainment- Publicity-H 2020
Courtesy of Mark Brooks/Marvel Entertainment
The comic book storyline launching in September demonstrates "how good we’ve gotten at writing books as a team," says scribe Tini Howard.

When X of Swords, the storyline stretching through Marvel Entertainment’s entire X-Men comic book franchise, arrives in September, it’ll do more than tie the publishing line together; according to one of the story’s lead writers, it’ll also demonstrate how collaborative the writers of the multiple comics have become.

Talking during the Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing panel streamed Friday as part of Comic-Con at Home, Tini Howard, writer of Excalibur, said that the 24-part storyline was the result of talking to X-Men writer and franchise lead Jonathan Hickman, and realizing that the two were planning similar plot developments without realizing it.

The storyline, originally announced in February, “comes out a lot of my love for a lot of things people have seen in Excalibur, of magic not just as a thing that lets you fly around and shoot fireballs or whatever, but magic as the idea of a cultural practice,” Howard said. “It’s going to be really exciting character work for a lot of your favorite characters. They all have some fun stuff coming up.”

Although the title, pronounced “Ten of Swords,” could be read literally given that the storyline will involve multiple characters using swords, Howard said that there’s another meaning to be considered. “If you know the tarot at all, you know the ten of swords is the end of a suit, and like all suits, it’s a journey. The suit of swords, if you’re a tarot reader, does not end well.”

In addition to watching the many different X-teams — the X-Men, the New Mutants, the Marauders, and more — come together, Howard promised that fans picking up the storyline will also get to see threads pass between chapters, with fellow guest Gerry Duggan saying that he’s even co-writing issues of the series he normally writes solo with other writers from the X-office.

The storyline, Howard said, "is really just showing you how good we’ve gotten at writing books as a team."

X of Swords begins with X of Swords: Creation No. 1, released in comic stores and digitally in September.