Excalibur #14 brought the action, featuring the first few battles between Arakko and Krakoa in X of Swords, but Wolverine #7 by Ben Percy and Joshua Cassara picks up where it left off, featuring its own slew of battles.
X of Swords has billed itself as a sword-fighting tournament and its build-up has featured the main characters gathering their swords and training in order to take down Arakko. As Wolverine #7 reveals (and by extent, Excalibur #14), not all of those battles actually turn out to be sword fights. Although no one really expected a fair fight, the rules employed in the tournament are extremely odd and shady.
The first fight shown in Wolverine #7 is between Magik and Pogg-ur-Pogg, which Marvel had previously teased. While Magik is an adept sword fighter, having used her soulsword since she was a child, this battle asks her to something completely unorthodox: arm wrestling. It’s incredibly fun to see Magik’s signature wit on full display as she trash talks her opponent, calling him a “dino” and a “hog.” While Percy is mostly known for writing Wolverine this era, he proves that he knows Magik’s character quite well through her interactions with Pogg-ur-Pogg.
Cassara’s artwork is the perfect fit for a Wolverine book as it’s very good, yet has this unpolished sheen. In contrast to Excalibur and Marauders, the colors are very muted and much darker — once again a perfect fit for a Wolverine title. Cassara truly gets to flex his artistic talent in this issue, particularly during the mind-bending fight between the Summoner and Wolverine. The two fight to the death on Blightspoke, which is essentially the two warriors fighting across the fabric of reality itself. This allows Cassara to get quite creative with his panel layout and details, which is a joy in itself to see.
The Wolverine/Summoner fight is one of the many points in this issue where it’s proven that Saturnyne is the one who’s really running the show. Her rules aren’t fair — nor do they always make sense — and that quickly becomes one of the more enjoyable portions of X of Swords, adding in this additional element of unknown nature.
One of the biggest downsides of the Dawn of X era has been a lack of character relationships and seeing how these historically tied characters would interact with one another in this new world. The highlight of Wolverine #7 is also one of the highlights of Dawn of X as a whole, showcasing the unique relationship between Storm and Wolverine. As a couple, these two worked near-flawlessly, complementing each other with a natural ease that stems from their years of friendship and mutual respect.
That natural chemistry is on full display in Wolverine #7 as the two engage in a drinking contest. They loosen up around each other, with Storm teasingly saying that she’ll tell Jean about his flirting with her. That interaction also seems to give more insight into what is going on with Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops, as it implies Logan is seeing Jean solely. The drinking contest also provides another interesting layer to the tournament, revealing that sometimes it’s Krakoa vs. Krakoa for the win.
While the two former flames begin to reignite their spark, just as they are seemingly about to kiss, Logan is pulled away to cash in on Solem’s boon from the previous issue. He squares off with War, who is pissed Logan killed her son in the previous battle. Many writers fall into this pitfall of having Wolverine be unbeatable or unkillable — two things we know aren’t true — but Percy uses his drinking contest with Storm to give War the edge. With Logan drunk, he must truly prove his prowess with a sword to win, making the battle all the more interesting.
Wolverine as a series has struggled to find its footing, often feeling a tad out of place. Wolverine #7, on the other hand, sidesteps this entirely and becomes the best issue of the series thus far. It serves as a great introduction to the lawlessness of the X of Swords tournament, while perfectly showing what’s at stake to lose. It’s fun and keeps the reader on their toes the entire time.
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