We’ve officially reached parts 3, 4, and 5 this week in the X of Swords saga, but if you want to read them in order read Wolverine, then X-Force, and finally Marauders. X-Force #13 is a continuation of the story in Wolverine #6, picking up right where we left off. Logan is metal bones and nothing more as he pulls himself from the fires of Hell, and Solem has arrived to claim the Muramasa blade. Set to fight one another in Arakko, can they both get the Muramasa blade before the duel begins in Otherworld?
Relatively speaking, this issue is easy enough to get into without reading Wolverine. You will have missed the introduction of Solem and some key details about how the story ended up in Hell, but it’s simple enough to gather what is going on. However, if you haven’t read X of Swords: Creation, you’ll really be lost. This is a fight comic at its core with fantasy underpinnings. Taking place in Hell will do that to your narrative, as Wolverine and this new Arakko warrior Solem must fight a “leveled up” Hand.
The action looks great thanks to Viktor Bogdanovic’s pencils and Matthew Wilson’s colors. There are berserker screams aplenty, slashes to the left and right as well as swordplay. The use of shadow is a good choice that helps separate the bright reds and yellows of Hell. One of the most striking moments in the book lacks uses a white silhouette — you can see it in X-Men Monday — which also serves as an important moment of realization about Solem.
Speaking of Solem, he steals the show in this book. We get to see his cunning and intelligence as he attempts to find the Muramasa blade even though he hasn’t even heard of it. So far we’ve seen little of Arakko, but in a key scene, we get to see Solem do a little bartering for information. It seems like some kind of fantasy hellscape, and yet Solem is all smiles all the time. Marvel has been dubbing him Wolverine’s ultimate nemesis, and you can see his positivity is clearly supposed to play opposite to Logan’s brooding nature.
Solem also gets one of the more interesting scenes visually. Cast in an almost burned out white with a touch of red and orange making up a fire, Solem communes with a magical character. If Wolverine is more like an animal and of the Earth, this scene seems to suggest Solem is made up of something more heavenly or god-like.
The book doesn’t quite come together though, due to the final fight sequence playing out a little too haphazardly. Aside from a thrown blade and some parrying, there’s a lot of standing around. The scene is blocked in a way where you can’t tell where characters are standing in relation to each other, nor how many bad guys are around them. It then abruptly ends with an unsatisfying resolution and a tease Logan did something he probably shouldn’t have. These final pages take a lot of the wind out of the sails of the book.
X-Force #13 is an interesting continuation of the 2-part story that started in Wolverine #6. There’s a fantasy element to the book that works thanks to some cool visuals early on and a rather interesting Solem. He’s not quite what you might expect, which may be the point. However, the last few pages serve to move the characters from point A to point B, rather than deliver on an exciting action-packed finish.