Vita Ayala takes over Marauders this week as X of Swords continues in its fifth chapter. Focusing on Storm, this issue is all about Ororo seeking out a sword named Swordbreaker. Where might it live? Wakanda of course!
There are a few interesting themes at work in this issue. Storm must go back to Wakanda where she was once a queen and ask for a priceless item. Wakanda was once home for her, which is a conflict from her current true home of Krakoa. She must also take from the Wakandan people something they’ve built their entire culture on. It’s for a good cause, and it’ll likely save all their lives, but it is still practically taking their culture from them. From the very first page, you can see a great weight is on Storm’s shoulders. Matteo Lolli captures that weight quite well, which is made even more impactful when you know the great history Storm has as a leader and even as a goddess.
This issue is very much a standalone adventure. Broken into parts, she must barter, commune with an old friend and sister, and then do her best to pull off the heist fo the century. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but these chunks of story give the issue a lot of flavor, mixing things up and never letting things feel boring. There are quiet moments of contemplation, familial conversation, and great action. It has it all. Ayala and Lolli are respecting the past well, pushing forward with Storm’s impactful choices. This all builds towards a finish that feels earned and not surprising, which could have easily gone that underwritten route if attention to detail was skipped over.
Once Storm is in Wakanda, Ayala has Storm explain what is going on with Arakko and the X of Swords. It might be one of the best-written explanations of the event I’ve ever read. Combined with Lolli’s art, I’d wager even if you skipped the previous four chapters you’ll know exactly what is going on. Seriously Marvel, reuse this page anywhere you need to get folks up to speed.
Art by Lolli and colors by Edgar Delgado are good and suit the quieter moments and heavy conversation running through the issue. In the opening pages, a full history of the sword Storm is after is given and it’s montaged well. Inks seem to run as if we’re reliving history and the bearer of the sword is always in focus. For two straight pages, characters simply sit and talk, and yet it’s still interesting thanks to the well-placed angles and well timed pushing in or pulling out to draw your attention. There are awkward bits here and there — Kate and Storm early on have some Joker-smiles that threw me off — and sometimes an energetic panel can do some twisty things to Storm’s limbs, but overall it’s solid stuff.
By the end of the issue, it’s quite clear Storm has a lot weighing on her mind and that doesn’t even include the upcoming duel she must endure in Otherworld. Marauders #13 has a lot of story to tell that hits at the heart of the weight Storm carries and how her actions aren’t to be taken lightly. There are many shades of Storm, and Marauders #13 shows just how awesome they all are.