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X-Men: X of Swords

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A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies. Swords will be drawn in the first epic crossover of the astonishing Dawn of X! Wolverine, the X-Men, Cable, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor, the New Mutants, the Marauders, the Hellions and the rest of Krakoa’s residents will all feel the effects — but which ten mutants will wield the blades? Weapons both new and familiar are drawn f A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies. Swords will be drawn in the first epic crossover of the astonishing Dawn of X! Wolverine, the X-Men, Cable, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor, the New Mutants, the Marauders, the Hellions and the rest of Krakoa’s residents will all feel the effects — but which ten mutants will wield the blades? Weapons both new and familiar are drawn from their scabbards as the X-Men prepare to do mythic battle against a truly daunting foe! Jonathan Hickman and his fellow visionary creators — who have painstakingly put all the pieces into place during Dawn of X — join forces to smash the board! Collects: X of Swords: Creation (2020) #1, X of Swords: Stasis (2020) #1, X of Swords: Destruction (2020) #1, X-Men (2019) #12-15, Excalibur (2019) #13-15, Marauders (2019) #13-15, X-Force (2019) #13-14, New Mutants (2019) #13, Wolverine (2020) #6-7, Cable (2020) #5-6, Hellions (2020) #5-6, X-Factor (2020) #4.


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A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies. Swords will be drawn in the first epic crossover of the astonishing Dawn of X! Wolverine, the X-Men, Cable, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor, the New Mutants, the Marauders, the Hellions and the rest of Krakoa’s residents will all feel the effects — but which ten mutants will wield the blades? Weapons both new and familiar are drawn f A tower. A mission. A gathering of armies. Swords will be drawn in the first epic crossover of the astonishing Dawn of X! Wolverine, the X-Men, Cable, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor, the New Mutants, the Marauders, the Hellions and the rest of Krakoa’s residents will all feel the effects — but which ten mutants will wield the blades? Weapons both new and familiar are drawn from their scabbards as the X-Men prepare to do mythic battle against a truly daunting foe! Jonathan Hickman and his fellow visionary creators — who have painstakingly put all the pieces into place during Dawn of X — join forces to smash the board! Collects: X of Swords: Creation (2020) #1, X of Swords: Stasis (2020) #1, X of Swords: Destruction (2020) #1, X-Men (2019) #12-15, Excalibur (2019) #13-15, Marauders (2019) #13-15, X-Force (2019) #13-14, New Mutants (2019) #13, Wolverine (2020) #6-7, Cable (2020) #5-6, Hellions (2020) #5-6, X-Factor (2020) #4.

30 review for X-Men: X of Swords

  1. 4 out of 5

    Baba

    From the very start of the Jonathan Hickman X-books' era it all felt too big, too much and too unrealistic, so I wasn't looking forward to his first major event and already had my sights set low; but this 10 mutants must get 10 swords to fight 10 baddies from Arakko feels like a 1980s package deal to sell comics with limited creativity. So the bad - the plot, the new characters, the further detailing of Apocalypse's origin, the whole Dawn of X premise and Otherworld, which I have always just abo From the very start of the Jonathan Hickman X-books' era it all felt too big, too much and too unrealistic, so I wasn't looking forward to his first major event and already had my sights set low; but this 10 mutants must get 10 swords to fight 10 baddies from Arakko feels like a 1980s package deal to sell comics with limited creativity. So the bad - the plot, the new characters, the further detailing of Apocalypse's origin, the whole Dawn of X premise and Otherworld, which I have always just about tolerated! Is there any good? Surprisingly yes! The Hellions, the Arakko Horsemen, Mahmud Asrar's art, Jubilee!, 'the X-Men', trouble within the Quiet Council and the fact that this all takes place away from main Earth, thank God! Just like Hickman's Avengers run it's all too much and hence just not realistic, even for Marvel! Creators should look at the huge stokes done by Grant Morrison's run, and see that it worked so well because it was grounded in continuity... Hickman thinks his is also grounded in reality, but almost every mutant on the same side just doesn't sit right... which is why the Hellions' Swords of X adventure was soo good for me :). 7 out of 12. 2022 read

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Even though I bought this in single issues, I've been putting this off for a while. A 22 part crossover across 9 books and 3 one-shots is pretty daunting. It's obviously bloated. Some of it is pretty cool. The whole third act is relatively silly. The juxtaposition was just weird after such a serious buildup. You can certainly see the parts Hickman focused on and the lesser parts by some of the other writers. At this point, I'd love to see the X-Men close the gate on Otherworld. It's so uninteres Even though I bought this in single issues, I've been putting this off for a while. A 22 part crossover across 9 books and 3 one-shots is pretty daunting. It's obviously bloated. Some of it is pretty cool. The whole third act is relatively silly. The juxtaposition was just weird after such a serious buildup. You can certainly see the parts Hickman focused on and the lesser parts by some of the other writers. At this point, I'd love to see the X-Men close the gate on Otherworld. It's so uninteresting in the hands of Tini Howard (which is the complete opposite of how I felt when Chris Claremont and Alan Davis explored it in the original Excalibur comic). The end of the contest felt anticlimactic when it devolved into the end of every story of this type ever made. (view spoiler)[Of course Annihilation was not going to abide by the terms of the contest if she lost and planned on attacking anyway. It just made the previous 7 or 8 chapters feel pointless. (hide spoiler)] All of those info text pages should have been thrown onto the scrapheap. They added very little to the story and interrupt the flow of the comics. At least move them to the back of the book or in the rare case they are relevant to the end of the chapter. Even though there are a ton of artists, it's all quite good. Most of the X stable of artists pitch in.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    I was going to pen a pellucid explication of my rationale for why this 22-part bit of WTF-ery has both merit and demerits aplenty, but then I realized I have a bunch of stuff to do, so I’ll leave it at this: while I’ve enjoyed Hickman’s take on the X-Men far more than I thought I would, X of Swords is like a dream that starts off awesome but segues into you getting life advice from a chain-smoking guinea pig who sounds like Sam Elliott and doing interpretive dance to the discordant sounds of Van I was going to pen a pellucid explication of my rationale for why this 22-part bit of WTF-ery has both merit and demerits aplenty, but then I realized I have a bunch of stuff to do, so I’ll leave it at this: while I’ve enjoyed Hickman’s take on the X-Men far more than I thought I would, X of Swords is like a dream that starts off awesome but segues into you getting life advice from a chain-smoking guinea pig who sounds like Sam Elliott and doing interpretive dance to the discordant sounds of Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” before ending in a place that makes you wonder, when you wake up, what you ate before you went to bed and how you avoid making that same mistake again, or at least not doing so when you’re not prepared for the consequences.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tiag⊗

    X of Swords started out really strong, the first half of the book was really good, and it looked like we were heading towards a massive war between Krakoa and Arakko, the stakes were extremely high, we got introduced to every sword, and then... the story takes a huge shift in direction and ends up with something entirely different. Maybe it was me and I just didn't see it coming, time will tell, but at least the last issue delivered my expectations, with a freaking epic finale illustrated by Pepe X of Swords started out really strong, the first half of the book was really good, and it looked like we were heading towards a massive war between Krakoa and Arakko, the stakes were extremely high, we got introduced to every sword, and then... the story takes a huge shift in direction and ends up with something entirely different. Maybe it was me and I just didn't see it coming, time will tell, but at least the last issue delivered my expectations, with a freaking epic finale illustrated by Pepe Larraz, in fact, most of the book was really good artwise, except for Mahmud Asrar, his art looked pretty poor to be honest. Instead of expecting a massive war event like I did, you should think of X of Swords as an new take on the story of Apocalypse and his family, as well as a prelude to the new Captain Britain Corps, I'm sure we gonna hear a lot more from Otherworld and Arakko.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Khurram

    I expected a lot from this crossover and was sadly disappointed. There were some good points mainly with Wolverine, X-Force and the Hellions. The ending was better but it took a long time getting there and just pushed it up to 3 star instead of 2 for me. My main problem with this crossover it is 23 issues, I was expecting a lot more, not just a setup of the next stage for the mutants. The book is supposed to be a tournament to the death of 10 chosen champions from Krakoa Vs. Arakko's 10 dark cham I expected a lot from this crossover and was sadly disappointed. There were some good points mainly with Wolverine, X-Force and the Hellions. The ending was better but it took a long time getting there and just pushed it up to 3 star instead of 2 for me. My main problem with this crossover it is 23 issues, I was expecting a lot more, not just a setup of the next stage for the mutants. The book is supposed to be a tournament to the death of 10 chosen champions from Krakoa Vs. Arakko's 10 dark champions. Almost half of this crossover is Krakos' champions gathering their blades. Then the blades were hardly used. The tournament just seemed to be a joke, who swaps a sword fight for a wedding, an arm wrestling match or a catwalk? Wolverine actually said everything I was thinking reading this book "Bull$#!£". The last 2 issues were more of what I was expecting but it was a bit too little too late. Maybe my expectations were too high, or I was expecting something different, but I did not think this book delivered. The artists work on their regular issue so there are a number of different artistic versions. There is a huge cover gallery at the end of the book with thumbnails of the of the varient covers of each issues, as well as full and double page spreads of the wraparound covers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike Carey

    I see from some of the other reviews here that X Of Swords has been controversial. I have to say that it shoots right to the top for me as the best X-Men crossover story I've ever read. Was it perfect? No. Almost inevitably there were a few rote or repetitious beats in the assembling of the ten swords. But as the story gathered pace, and as it became clear that this was a battle that would be decided in lots of places - mostly not battlefields - and in lots of ways - mostly not by fighting - I g I see from some of the other reviews here that X Of Swords has been controversial. I have to say that it shoots right to the top for me as the best X-Men crossover story I've ever read. Was it perfect? No. Almost inevitably there were a few rote or repetitious beats in the assembling of the ten swords. But as the story gathered pace, and as it became clear that this was a battle that would be decided in lots of places - mostly not battlefields - and in lots of ways - mostly not by fighting - I got more and more invested in the audacious plot twists, the colossal stakes and the superb handling of the core characters. I was utterly hooked all through the Destruction issues and completely bind-sided by how it all resolved. It was really bold, really risk-taking storytelling and it did things with the cast and with the franchise as a whole that I've never seen before in a superhero narrative. Five stars from me, without a moment's hesitation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Despite my feelings about Hickman’s bowdlerisation of the X-books, this particular crossover wasn’t too awful. There were as many things I liked about it as there were things I disliked, so the story averaged out OK. The art was largely pretty good. My next book: Atlantis Attacks Despite my feelings about Hickman’s bowdlerisation of the X-books, this particular crossover wasn’t too awful. There were as many things I liked about it as there were things I disliked, so the story averaged out OK. The art was largely pretty good. My next book: Atlantis Attacks

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scratch

    This event was a colossal waste of time. It interrupted storylines to provide us with a pointless "contest of champions." The underlying conceit of this event was that the X-Men would each carry special swords to fight other mutants wielding special swords. There were multiple issues of filler, because this event did not deserve 22 installments. Then, when the actual contests came about, there was very little actual sword fighting. Instead we had silly drinking contests or dance contests. ... Yay This event was a colossal waste of time. It interrupted storylines to provide us with a pointless "contest of champions." The underlying conceit of this event was that the X-Men would each carry special swords to fight other mutants wielding special swords. There were multiple issues of filler, because this event did not deserve 22 installments. Then, when the actual contests came about, there was very little actual sword fighting. Instead we had silly drinking contests or dance contests. ... Yay. Silly. The entire premise was flimsy. We had a random group of X-Men sent to fight mutants we had never heard of before this event, wielding --mostly-- swords we had never heard of before this event. A Wakandan sword was contrived because, well, doesn't it just seem like those African people should have a sacred sword hidden away somewhere? I can honestly say I am not sure we saw anyone actually use said sword, but, okay. Similarly, we watched Saturnyne sculpt a sword from the material of the Starlight Citadel with her bare hands. A sword we had never heard of before this event. ... A sword that then served no purpose in the plot. My biggest complaint is what I brought up in every review of each individual issue: SATURNYNE DOESN'T HAVE ANY POWERS. She was an ordinary human from Earth-9 who got swept up in Captain Britain's adventures in the 80s. She is not a mutant. This particular version of her is not a sorceress, although alternate reality versions of her have been magic users. It was essential to her character that she worked her way up to a position of importance working with Roma and Merlin at the Starlight Citadel based on her own merits. When she and Captain Britain fought the Fury, a terrifying techno-organic character more threatening than Doomsday, who literally slaughtered an entire world, Saturnyne could only participate in the fight by shooting a massive 90s-style gun. Now, she is replacing Merlin and Roma as the Omniversal Majestrix. Writers looked her up, saw that she had this job of multiversal importance, and then just... assumed? They seemed to have made assumptions throughout all 22 issues of this event, and NOT A SINGLE FUCKING CHARACTER COMMENTED ON THE FACT SHE DISPLAYED POWERS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER? What may be even worse is the inclusion of text pages supposedly from the mutant Tarot. We don't actually see her, but she describes her predictions as she draws tarot cards and reports on her predictions to other mutants around Krakoa. I will set aside my anger over the fact her precognitive powers are relatively new. When Tarot was introduced in the 80s, her power was simply to animate images from tarot cards as three-dimensional beings. Precognition was a secondary power given to her in the late 90s in the pages of X-Force. Still, it is now officially one of her powers, and her sole reason for narrating text pages was to describe her use of it. But, THERE AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ANY PRECOGNITIVE MUTANTS ON KRAKOA. This has been an ongoing, slow, subplot across Dawn of X. Destiny can foil Moira MacTaggert's plans because her precognition can see through Moira's many past lives. So Moira, Xavier, and Magneto are refusing to resurrect Destiny, Blindfold, or any other precognitive mutant. Yet, here in X of Swords, we learn that Tarot is inexplicably resurrected and actively bragging about her precognition to the other mutants. THAT MEANS THE WRITERS CAN'T KEEP TRACK OF THEIR OWN SUBPLOTS. They FORGOT their own ongoing story about the precog embargo on Krakoa, and put a precog on Krakoa after all. Writing is dead. Continuity is dead.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Monet breaks the 4th wall 2 grudging stars in honour of the few writers conscripted in who managed to somehow create an engaging or fun story or two and the talented artists who had to draw the scripts they were served up along the endless nonsensical slog of throwaway settings and bonkers infographics this event gave us. IT. WAS. SO. BAD. I feel really let down as the whole House of X/Powers of X had me legitimately excited about the soaring direction the X-Titles were headed but these 700+ pages ser Monet breaks the 4th wall 2 grudging stars in honour of the few writers conscripted in who managed to somehow create an engaging or fun story or two and the talented artists who had to draw the scripts they were served up along the endless nonsensical slog of throwaway settings and bonkers infographics this event gave us. IT. WAS. SO. BAD. I feel really let down as the whole House of X/Powers of X had me legitimately excited about the soaring direction the X-Titles were headed but these 700+ pages served like one big flaming editorial Hindenburg bringing them back to flame scorched Earth of the pseudo-mystical non-stop crossover dregs of the '90s.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    This is a review from reading it in singles. My opinion/rating might change when I revisit it collected (which will probably be next year) Firstly, this being 22 issues over a number of different books almost put me off. I know X-men cross over stories have done that before, but this was my first time actually being invested in the current X-men title (because Hickman) so I had decided if I wanted to go all in or not So I decided to go all in And for the most part I really enjoyed it! It does lose This is a review from reading it in singles. My opinion/rating might change when I revisit it collected (which will probably be next year) Firstly, this being 22 issues over a number of different books almost put me off. I know X-men cross over stories have done that before, but this was my first time actually being invested in the current X-men title (because Hickman) so I had decided if I wanted to go all in or not So I decided to go all in And for the most part I really enjoyed it! It does lose it a bit in the middle, the tournament takes a turn that’s a bit...well, it’s no Kung-fu tournament, I’ll say that. But overall I’ve really enjoyed the story X-men is such a big brand within Marvel and this recent relaunch spearhead by Hickman has been great (for me at least), I think this story works because all the books have a destination point, of sorts

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Lemmerman

    The hordes of Arakko are on their way - but to trample Krakoa, they must pass through Otherworld, and the Lady Saturnyne has something to say about that. Instead of all out war, she proposes a contest. To the winner, the spoilers. But first, the competitors must assemble their swords. X Of Swords is a 22 issue crossover, with something like 6 of those issues being over-sized. It's an ambitious project, with a huge number of people involved to make sure that the moving parts come off right. You'd The hordes of Arakko are on their way - but to trample Krakoa, they must pass through Otherworld, and the Lady Saturnyne has something to say about that. Instead of all out war, she proposes a contest. To the winner, the spoilers. But first, the competitors must assemble their swords. X Of Swords is a 22 issue crossover, with something like 6 of those issues being over-sized. It's an ambitious project, with a huge number of people involved to make sure that the moving parts come off right. You'd think it'd fall apart under its own weight, but aside from a little misstep, it's actually surprisingly cohesive all the way through. The first half of the book, the assembling of the swords and the niceties that Saturnyne forces the X-Men and Arakko's swordsmen to go through is great. The way in which the swords are assembled is varied and clever, and draws on all of the involved X-Men in some unique ways. Then throwing them all together in a big mix gets the blood pumping before the tournament begins. That little misstep I mentioned is the tournament itself - the third quarter of the story gets bonkers fast, as what we thought was just a swordfight turns into something else, with more and more ludicrous contests and score rulings making things seem overly padded and daft. It all pulls itself together for the final quarter though, with the last three issues or so being a truly perfect endcap to everything that went on in the rest of the book. I was very pleased to see that most of the books involved in this crossover didn't lose their individuality as the story went on either - issues of Marauders focused on Storm, Cable's solo issues were about him, etc. So even though there were a myriad of titles swept up, they all still felt important without just becoming Part X of 22. The artwork was all phenomenal as well - most of the artists assigned to each X-book showed up, while Phil Noto even pulled double duty and pencilled some additional issues as well. The three book-end issues were Pepe Larraz in all his glory, who really has become the era defining artist for Hickman's X-epic. X Of Swords isn't perfect. But given all that it is, and all that went in to make it, it's also far better than it has any right to be. It flags a little around the midway point, but it recovers nicely and manages to be entertaining and easy on the eye almost all the way through.

  12. 4 out of 5

    James

    Man I had so much stuff going that stopped me from finishing this. Well it’s done now. This book started off with so much promise. Even tho I was shaky ( and still am) about Amenth and Arakko as far as where they are located, I was still into the build up of the story. Watching some of the characters go on their quests to find their swords and the how the odds were stacking up against them as they marched towards the coming contest of swords was a great ride. Plus the artwork was great. Everyone Man I had so much stuff going that stopped me from finishing this. Well it’s done now. This book started off with so much promise. Even tho I was shaky ( and still am) about Amenth and Arakko as far as where they are located, I was still into the build up of the story. Watching some of the characters go on their quests to find their swords and the how the odds were stacking up against them as they marched towards the coming contest of swords was a great ride. Plus the artwork was great. Everyone brought their A game. Then at the halfway mark going into chapter 12 their was probably the biggest tone shift I’ve seen in a comic. It went from a serious big sweeping grand epic kind of feel to being really silly and goofy. Saturnyne started changing up the battles and had them doing some really dumb stuff. ( side note, I don’t like her, Betsy or half the quiet council after reading this) after those couple issues the story did get back to the serious tone but still had some more confusing parts. Saturnyne seemed to have control of everything and everyone had to do what she set forth but then that went out the window and the Arakko folks stopped listening to her and started to try to kill everyone. Then the Hellions and Sinisters side quest seemed useless. Something major happened to Havok that we didn’t even get to see. Huh? Then what Sinister did to them was just left out there without being addressed. Man this book hurt me as I was so hyped to read it only to be left feeling a bit lost and unsatisfied.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Garthoff

    While X of Swords was always going to live in the shadow of House of X/ Powers of X, I think it also fell victim to its own hype. Other than pulling from all the Dawn of X titles into one 22 chapter silo it is essentially an elongated role call, a series of oddly goofy trials, and an Apocalypse side story. There’s a tremendous emphasis on Otherworld, Lady Saturnyne, and it almost begs the question of whether or not X of Swords is really more of an Excalibur event than a large bridge across all t While X of Swords was always going to live in the shadow of House of X/ Powers of X, I think it also fell victim to its own hype. Other than pulling from all the Dawn of X titles into one 22 chapter silo it is essentially an elongated role call, a series of oddly goofy trials, and an Apocalypse side story. There’s a tremendous emphasis on Otherworld, Lady Saturnyne, and it almost begs the question of whether or not X of Swords is really more of an Excalibur event than a large bridge across all the current X-men stories. And a lot of it felt tacked on, they started X-Factor right before the event to pull in a few characters from that, tossed in one issue of New Mutants so they could grab Magik and Cypher. In a way, what X of Swords was best at was halting the momentum on each X-series for a very meandering “supergroup rock album of an event” that just makes me want to get back to what I was reading beforehand. Now that it is finished, X of Swords certainly had its moments, but it also has stretches that are dull, the swords are kind of a prop and seem completely unnecessary to the whole thing, and it is just nowhere near the level of Xmen magic that you want Hickman & Co to deliver. If you’re super into Excalibur maybe you’ll feel differently, but I am pretty underwhelmed with what transpired over 22 issues, not counting the 2 preludes that came before it. The X titles just read better individually, and without swords.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Subham

    It started off really well but took so much of time to get going and the first 11 parts were just them collecting swords and then when you expect the battle to start, its the same old story of what happened to Arakko through different lenses and then the competition becomes goofy and silly and the point system is weird, there is no actual sword fight. When we reach the near end, there is one good issue with the X-Men where Cyclops has to decide to take the X-Men into Otherworld and rescue the mu It started off really well but took so much of time to get going and the first 11 parts were just them collecting swords and then when you expect the battle to start, its the same old story of what happened to Arakko through different lenses and then the competition becomes goofy and silly and the point system is weird, there is no actual sword fight. When we reach the near end, there is one good issue with the X-Men where Cyclops has to decide to take the X-Men into Otherworld and rescue the mutants, that part was great and the fight between Apocalypse and Genesis/Annihilation and how it ended abruptly was weird really, but then again the ending promises some big things ahead for Otherworld and the X-Men have to recover from this loss, overall an underwhelming event and could have used with less tie-ins, and focus on just the main X-Men writer Hickman. It became a case of too many cooks in the kitchen but well the fallout seems promising!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rylan

    This was a hefty read, originally X of Swords was intended to be 12 issues but covid hit and for some reason they thought adding 10 more was a good idea. I think they should’ve stuck with 12 the story is way to drawn out and unnecessarily confusing at times. I will say I am a sucker for tournament arcs so I did enjoy the story for the most part and Storm was an absolute badass in here I love seeing her get some spotlight.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ewing

    X Of Swords is that rare thing, a crossover where the side books are vital to the story. Not in terms of plot - the 22(!) chapter format makes it look like everything is going to matter, but there’s so much misdirection in play that almost none of it does. Instead the side books here are crucial because they get to keep their tone. The stuff which sticks with me from this very long story - the stuff which meant I enjoyed it despite its glaring flaws - are the two-part Otherworld dinner in Maraude X Of Swords is that rare thing, a crossover where the side books are vital to the story. Not in terms of plot - the 22(!) chapter format makes it look like everything is going to matter, but there’s so much misdirection in play that almost none of it does. Instead the side books here are crucial because they get to keep their tone. The stuff which sticks with me from this very long story - the stuff which meant I enjoyed it despite its glaring flaws - are the two-part Otherworld dinner in Marauders, the side quests in Storm and Cable, and the Hellions’ ridiculous Suicide Squad style raid into Arakko. By letting those chapters play to their writers’ and characters’ strengths they bring the crossover to life and stop it becoming the slog it so easily could have been. What about the flaws, though? A lot of the criticism of X Of Swords centres on that misdirection - the nature of which would constitute a big spoiler*, so let’s just say some of the assumptions every character in the first half of the story makes about what’s coming up in the second turn out to be wrong. I think it works, but I can also see how people NOT reading this as a collection would feel that they’d been tricked into buying a lot of padding. But for me the crossover just about justifies its length and weird structure. No, the flaws are more to do with something that’s been a lurking issue since day 1 of the Hickman X-era, the threat of the data page tail wagging the story dog. A lot of the time in X Of Swords it feels like co-writers Hickman and Tini Howard are writing a tabletop RPG sourcebook first and then letting the comic illustrate it. There’s a ton of worldbuilding by info dump in X Of Swords that feels designed to indulge Hickman’s fetch-quest approach in this area: ten swords for the X-Men, ten all new opponents to introduce, and hey, THEY all have a sword to introduce too, and then there’s the ten kingdoms of Otherworld... I hope you’re taking notes at the back there! In a sense this is justifiable. If Otherworld is going to keep being prominent in Marvel stories then it needs some fleshing out. Ditto for Arakko if it’s going to be part of the X Status Quo in future. But it makes for lumpy, un-resonant storytelling. At one point there’s a splash page reveal when a character arrives in - dun-dun-DUN - Sevalith, and surely the intended reaction wasn’t a sigh and a “wait which one is that again?” The sourcebook style of data pages is one way they can be misused. The other way is how they often work in Excalibur- as way of explaining what just happened when the actual storytelling was too cryptic. And since X Of Swords is springing out of Excalibur story threads, and Tini Howard is co-writing, the problem recurs. It’s especially aggravating when one of the main antagonists is Saturnyne, whose motivations for... well, most of what happens - are left cosmically vague. A lot of the reason the Marauders issues are so good is that Gerry Duggan gets to write Wolverine as the why-are-we-even-in-this-crossover guy: his frustration is at least partly the readers. In the end X Of Swords works, just about. The bookend issues have enough excitement and solid payoffs to elevate the padding. The Marauders and Hellions issues are excellent. The new status quo complicates the Krakoan setup in ominous ways (though this isn’t made clear until the post-crossover issue of X-Men). The art is varied and strong throughout. It’s the best Apocalypse story since the big one (this is not a hard bar to clear). It is a good time - it’s just there’s rather a lot of it. *here instead is a Small Spoiler: The X-Men finally get to save the world by means of a dance-off, and they didn’t get Kieron Gillen to write it. For shame, Marvel. For shame.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I would like to say that I have mixed feelings about this run, but I don't. It was not an enjoyable read. It was too long, too confusing, too goofy, and too expensive (I bought the individual issues). I avoided the Excalibur runs because of its tendencies to delve into Captain Britain ominiverse craziness. I found the Captain Britain Corp, Saturnyne, Otherworld, and the rest of the extensive world-building that Alan Davis, Chris Claremont, and other created too hard to follow -- and often too si I would like to say that I have mixed feelings about this run, but I don't. It was not an enjoyable read. It was too long, too confusing, too goofy, and too expensive (I bought the individual issues). I avoided the Excalibur runs because of its tendencies to delve into Captain Britain ominiverse craziness. I found the Captain Britain Corp, Saturnyne, Otherworld, and the rest of the extensive world-building that Alan Davis, Chris Claremont, and other created too hard to follow -- and often too silly for me to take seriously. I have been able to avoid it all for decades until X of Swords. Not knowing the extensive backstory didn't help me get into this epic 23 issue crossover event. Even if I managed to understand (and care) about Captain Britain and the omniverse, this competition between the X-Men and a new set of villains from another dimension was as goofy as it was unbelievable (even for the world of comics). It is a contest! A warrior nation and the X-Men, defenders of the Earth, are reduced to a series of poorly defined one-on-one competitions that range from drinking to duels to the death. I can't keep up with the scoring or understand the relevance. Moreover, Saturnyne, the game's orchestrator, is playing at some Machiavellian scheme that I simply can't understand even when the endgame is revealed. I like the writing of several issues (particularly the Hellions). The character interactions and humor kept my interest despite the unfathomable story. I was also intrigued with Apocalypse's deep ties to the warrior nation as it attempts to rationalize his singular purpose in life: survival of the fittest. I am not sure I see any real redeemable qualities here. Good art, great dialog, and solid character development layered onto a terribly convoluted plot involving story elements that I've long avoided.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Clint

    An ambitious, fun, regularly spectacular-looking crossover event that surprised me most of all by making me really care about what was happening amidst its apocalyptic stakes. The premise suggests several sword duels to the death, which sounds like it would quickly get monotonous and also bump into the constraints of any Big 2 comic event to not actually kill off half the stars of the series involved. Instead, Hickman and the other series’ writers built this crossover from two equally entertaini An ambitious, fun, regularly spectacular-looking crossover event that surprised me most of all by making me really care about what was happening amidst its apocalyptic stakes. The premise suggests several sword duels to the death, which sounds like it would quickly get monotonous and also bump into the constraints of any Big 2 comic event to not actually kill off half the stars of the series involved. Instead, Hickman and the other series’ writers built this crossover from two equally entertaining halves. The thrilling first half chases down the swords needed for the competition while providing interesting background on the opposing team from Arakko. The back half twisted my expectations with an imaginative and varied format for the competition that made me tense in anticipation, thrill at certain outcomes, and laugh a ton. I love that there’s actually subtle foreshadowing and payoffs that avoid the unearned deus ex machina that this sort of event tends to use to wrap up a blockbuster climax. There’s also some actual consequences, most interestingly in the form of new relationships or new dynamics to old relationships, though there’s also an obligatory handful of cast absences going forward that will presumably return at some point. Even the past unevenness of a few of the individual series is handled well, with artists swapping across titles, adding art I loved to series I’ve been cooler on (like Phil Noto drawing Excalibur!) Excalibur is still the weakest series here, which might seem like a problem given the event’s heavy tie to Otherworld happenings, but I found it surprisingly easy to invest in the emotional stakes of the story and characters without really caring about Otherworld or Captain Britain stuff. The similarly just-okay-so-far X-Factor only gets 1 of the 22 issues. Beyond those, I really looked forward to each issue of the other series involved (Wolverine, X-Force, Hellions, Cable, X-men, New Mutants, Mauraders, and the three event one-shots) and the slightly different tone and casts they all offered. And now I’m already looking forward to the first wave of trades for Reign of X in a few more months!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt Quann

    I read the much-anticipated big X-event of 2020 on the Marvel Unlimited comics app which let me get all set up with the necessary lead-ins. The most important being one of my favourite reads of last year, House of X/Powers of X. While lots of the mutant books have dealt with challenges faced by the mutants, this is the first real threat against Krakoan dominion. Before we go into the event, here's what I recommend reading of the new series as a lead-in to this main event: -X-Men -Excalibur -Maraude I read the much-anticipated big X-event of 2020 on the Marvel Unlimited comics app which let me get all set up with the necessary lead-ins. The most important being one of my favourite reads of last year, House of X/Powers of X. While lots of the mutant books have dealt with challenges faced by the mutants, this is the first real threat against Krakoan dominion. Before we go into the event, here's what I recommend reading of the new series as a lead-in to this main event: -X-Men -Excalibur -Marauders (my favourite of the new status quo) X of Swords pulls on one of the threads from Hickman's big relaunch: the separation of Krakoa and Arrako. Primarily, this series zeroes-in on Apocalypse's long history with the realm and his familial ties to the mutants left behind. The main event is framed as a tournament of swords between ten mutants of Krakoa and ten of Arrako to be settled on the shifting ground of Otherworld. Hijinks ensue and the series actually has a pretty whimsical bent during the competition. Occasionally it'll veer into the more serious, but it saves the real dramatic moments for the last few issues. It is a good collection of comics with some tie-ins that could have been cut (Hellions, I'm looking at you), but doesn't get near the heights achieved by Hickman's Hox/Pox. Glad to have read this and I'm very excited to see where the world goes next!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Dailey

    Would have liked more of Hickman's influence than Tinis's, but it was still a great event. Seemed like a condensed End Game. Would have liked more Krakoa-side drama. They haven't even shown Brian Braddock's family in forever, even in Excalibur. Interested in what Apocs' going from here. Would have liked more of Hickman's influence than Tinis's, but it was still a great event. Seemed like a condensed End Game. Would have liked more Krakoa-side drama. They haven't even shown Brian Braddock's family in forever, even in Excalibur. Interested in what Apocs' going from here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    The Hickman-directed relaunch of the X-Men and associated books has been, for the most part, a triumph - digging out the fabulous core of the concept and the characters, wrapping it in intriguing new wrinkles, and interweaving the various titles without making them incomprehensible. So with the launch titles two volumes in, and the second wave a handful of issues down, what Hickman very cleverly decided to do was have a crossover. A bloated, 23-issue, 700-page crossover, dragging every book in t The Hickman-directed relaunch of the X-Men and associated books has been, for the most part, a triumph - digging out the fabulous core of the concept and the characters, wrapping it in intriguing new wrinkles, and interweaving the various titles without making them incomprehensible. So with the launch titles two volumes in, and the second wave a handful of issues down, what Hickman very cleverly decided to do was have a crossover. A bloated, 23-issue, 700-page crossover, dragging every book in the line into it for a couple of months. Hinged on developments in the range's worst title, the garbled Excalibur, it would go for the classic crossover move of splitting up the leads (49 of whom feature on one roster page, so obviously that's nice and simple to keep track of) and sending them off to collect plot tokens, the eponymous swords, before bringing them back together for a big old barney. So, you know, that's always a winner. Especially considering the disjoint where half the blades require trips to Hell, space, lost temples... and half are ones people just had lying around anyway. But no, there's more! Consider the way that Hickman, while excellent at finding new angles on existing Marvel characters, has past form when it comes to adding new ones en masse – just look at the Black Order who, despite being in one of the biggest films ever, remain as generic a bunch of vaguely hieratic goons as comics have ever seen. Guess what? Now we get another batch of allegedly menacing no-marks who may be even duller! Granted, I did enjoy Solem ("Man and woman alike both craved him and wished to tear him apart in the same impulse"), but this potentially entertaining rogue, born from that same quietly puckish side of Hickman as those elderly biologists who've been menacing the X-Men, is mostly drowned out by the largely indistinguishable epic fantasy knock-offs with whom he knocks around. Or how about what's usually one of Hickman's strengths, the diagrams and designs and infographics? Could that become a weakness too? You bet! Apparently Otherworld (which I'm not convinced anyone at Marvel has entirely pulled off since Paul Cornell and Kieron Gillen), despite being a magical and mystical realm, is a perfect circle divided into regular segments. Oh, and also Merlin has turned his segment industrial, because that's what you associate with Merlin, isn't it?* Or you know how the mutants now live on Krakoa, which merged with its other half Arakko in the excellent 'horny islands' issue of X-Men? That was probably as far as that anagram could profitably go, right? Not according to Hickman, who gives us the secret and not remotely generic, honest, prehistory of...Okkara! Featuring someone whose mutant power is never losing! Now, if you say that as set-up, and then issues later it becomes clear that what it means is that if faced with insurmountable odds, she just defects, then that could be a good reveal. But no, here it's part of the intro, so the character just sounds like a terrible idea from the off. Apocalypse's scions are one of various elements which mainly make me feel Hickman's not got East Of West out of his system yet, though at least in that the prophecy didn't sound quite so blatantly like a bodged-together megamix. Death in Otherworld mucking up resurrection mainly suggests a backing away from the end-of-death which was one of the Krakoan era's most intriguing moves. And so on. Oh, and while this would be somewhat bollocks for any reader, it has an extra delight for the triskaidekaphobics among us, who prefer not to leave a book on chapter 13 or page 13. Because given it comes after a load of comics' second six-issue collections, it opens with an absolute death-march of issue 13s! Yes, there are some 5s in there too from the younger books, but all the same... To some extent I'm pinning all the blame on Hickman here, but it must be noted that there are dozens of creators involved in this, and some of them do manage to come out with heads held high. The Hellions team, for instance, have clearly been given that most cherished of crossover mandates, 'You guys – just dick around.' So they dispatch their team of misfits to subvert the contest altogether, everyone screws each other over, there are lots of snarky one-liners, and it's generally a good time. There are other glimmers of fun dotted around; I always enjoy the current Summers family dynamic, and all the more so when it slips in Scott replying to Jean's request with an "As you wish". The art on Wolverine's especially demented duel is fabulous, but even more impressive is that the issue is then able to smoothly switch gears to catch the quiet chemistry which makes the ensuing drinking scene work. Even here, though, there's a problem. SPOILERS follow – ones I knew going in, but ones which you may wish to avoid if, like me, you feel obliged to slog through this bastard despite everything. It turns out, after a dozen or more issues of set-up, that the whole swordfighting tournament is a massive bait and switch. Which, yes, to some extent it's a ballsy storytelling move – but there's a thin line between ballsy and taking the piss. Four issues, maybe. Hundreds of pages, and I dread to think how much all those issues would have cost had you been buying them as they were released? I can't help but feel that's on the wrong side. On top of which, while Saturnyne's whimsical reformatting of the contests, and deeply idiosyncratic adjudication of the results, is entirely in keeping with the character, that doesn't stop it from being profoundly annoying. One of the reasons I can't abide any of the competition formats which proliferate across the TV schedules** is the way they judge people on entirely arbitrary criteria; outside certain very specific contexts, I don't really find unfairness a sufficient basis for entertainment. And this is pretty much that but worse – Drag Race, except the competitors thought they were preparing for Bake-Off. I could maybe have worked my way round to forgiveness if the story had the courage to finish up in this mode, but no. Completely bottling the initial twist, matters instead conclude with the massive great ruck which represents the unimaginative default for the finale of a superhero crossover, in turn resolved by a questionable deus ex machina, specifically Apocalypse defeating a talking hat with the power of love. *Well, I suppose it sort of fits with the character as depicted in the single worst Hellblazer run. But that's not an endorsement. **Actual quiz shows are a different matter, because there the answer is either correct or not. Although woe betide any show which hasn't properly done its research – I have friends who love Only Connect, but I won't go near it since a correct-but-not-sought answer was deemed incorrect by its host. A Marvel-related answer, as it happens, but that's by the by. And now I'm going to end this footnote before remembering all the false or incomplete answers in Triv sends me off the deep end.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam Williams

    X of Swords was a really impressive event. I first read it as it came out in individual issues but I recently re-read the hardcover. There were one or two places where the pacing didn't quite work but for 23 issues with I don't even know how many writers and artists involved, the coordination was impressive, and in particular the three tentpole issues with Pepe Larraz were just incredible. I loved the fact that a massive X-universe event spun around the utterly weird Otherworld, and the world-bu X of Swords was a really impressive event. I first read it as it came out in individual issues but I recently re-read the hardcover. There were one or two places where the pacing didn't quite work but for 23 issues with I don't even know how many writers and artists involved, the coordination was impressive, and in particular the three tentpole issues with Pepe Larraz were just incredible. I loved the fact that a massive X-universe event spun around the utterly weird Otherworld, and the world-building in Otherworld and Arakko was so much fun. The mutants of Arakko feel like immediate classics; and the mysteries of the various Kingdoms of Otherworld left me hoping that Tini Howard and the other writers in the X-office have the chance to keep fleshing them out for years to come.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carl Printer

    This was a fun crossover, and a full one to boot: Everything from the zany (Fear Factor eating challenge) to the earnest (come through Apocalypse the Lover). Overlaid with a fun take on the Tarot and its oft-used, but in this case, appreciated motif, X of Swords was a fun if only slightly frivolous romp through Otherworld, that’s well-worth spending time reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jan Potměšil

    Good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    So much less grim than I thought it was going to be. Hickman and the X-team deliver a crossover event that is playful and strange while never forgetting the story's stakes. So much less grim than I thought it was going to be. Hickman and the X-team deliver a crossover event that is playful and strange while never forgetting the story's stakes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex Edwards

    I’ve tried in the past to get into X-Men comics and the only run I’ve properly enjoyed has been Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. However when Hickman changed the status quo with the X-Men with House of X/Powers of X in 2019 I finally found myself caring about the X-Men. Flash forward to now and I’ve finally read the first big X-Men crossover event and I have to say I loved it. Did it need to be 22 issues long? Probably not and certain issues such as the Hellions ones aren’t very important to the I’ve tried in the past to get into X-Men comics and the only run I’ve properly enjoyed has been Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. However when Hickman changed the status quo with the X-Men with House of X/Powers of X in 2019 I finally found myself caring about the X-Men. Flash forward to now and I’ve finally read the first big X-Men crossover event and I have to say I loved it. Did it need to be 22 issues long? Probably not and certain issues such as the Hellions ones aren’t very important to the main story (sidenote: the hellions issues while not important are amazing) but the story is still well crafted and interesting to read. All the characters are well written with Magik, Cypher and Storm being my faves throughout the event. The art is fantastic throughtout and a certain page in the final issue is burned in my memory just because of how iconic it. Overall I loved it and it’s made me realise I need to catch up on my comics because X-Men is one of the best things Marvel is putting out right now

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Dinges

    This is X of Swords in its entirety. Like the rest of the line since Hickman took the wheel, it's a flawed, but mostly successful story. The story takes place over 22 issues. A jaw-dropping number, to be sure. Unlike most events, this doesn't really qualify as a crossover. With most events, you get about 6-8 issues of primary plot and a host of tie-ins that may contribute to the story but are largely ancillary. X of Swords is an ambitious undertaking in that the vast majority of the 22 issues mak This is X of Swords in its entirety. Like the rest of the line since Hickman took the wheel, it's a flawed, but mostly successful story. The story takes place over 22 issues. A jaw-dropping number, to be sure. Unlike most events, this doesn't really qualify as a crossover. With most events, you get about 6-8 issues of primary plot and a host of tie-ins that may contribute to the story but are largely ancillary. X of Swords is an ambitious undertaking in that the vast majority of the 22 issues make up one narrative through line and feel mostly essential to the final destination. It's a credit to the editors, writers, and artists that the story feels of the same piece and not stitched together despite the varying creative teams attached to the individual issues. If you are up for the investment in time and money, you'll probably find something to like here if you are an X-Men fan. X of Swords brings in most of the fan favorites and then some. The narrative is pulling in the same direction but there is some storytelling diversity among the individual issues. (view spoiler)[ My big complaint with X of Swords is that the contest Hickman and company spend more than 12 issues (!) building towards is quite anticlimactic until the final few issues. This was intentional. I did chuckle a bit at the subversion of the expectations and choice to shift from such a dire tone as the contest actually began. Having said that, it left me with the feeling that the contest itself was filler to stretch between the first 1/2 of the event and the final 2-3 issues. I think the ending saved the story, but it's certainly not a 22-issue tour de force. (hide spoiler)] I read the issues as they were released on Marvel Unlimited, so there is certainly something to be said for the ridiculous cost to admission for those who didn't. I can't say I'd be thrilled at having to buy 15 issues of something I might not have been reading to get the full story in a way that's even more obtrusive than normal comics event storytelling. The format has its merits, but should be used sparingly or it will surely lead to even more cash-grabs. X of Swords is ambitious, well put-together, and, largely, a good X-Men story. The current lineup of X writers, artists, and editorial has proven to know what they're doing and if you like the X-Men I'd recommend picking this up (but probably while it's on sale).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    A hard one to rate. This book made me literally roll my eyes and groan in exasperation, and yet I couldn't put it down. So, first the main things I hated. The plot revolves around finding ten champions and having them get ten magic swords so that they can compete in a life or death tournament. That by itself is really dumb and sounds like the plot of a video game. But, what's worse, when the tournament starts the swords don't matter at all. The book turns into a comedy where, instead of sword fi A hard one to rate. This book made me literally roll my eyes and groan in exasperation, and yet I couldn't put it down. So, first the main things I hated. The plot revolves around finding ten champions and having them get ten magic swords so that they can compete in a life or death tournament. That by itself is really dumb and sounds like the plot of a video game. But, what's worse, when the tournament starts the swords don't matter at all. The book turns into a comedy where, instead of sword fighting, they mainly have arm wrestling matches, drinking contests, dance offs (I'm not kidding, either), and other stupid shenanigans. There are some sword fights here and there, but mainly the first half of this huge event, where these swords are all anyone talks about and risks everything to get, are pointless. They have a throwaway line where they handwave this by saying that the swords are really just keys to the tournament, but it doesn't really sit right with me. I expected sword duels and got riddle contests and spelling bees (again, not exaggerating). The swords were a macguffin used solely to pad this thing out to bloated proportions. Another mild annoyance is that all of the big SHOCKER reveals could be seen coming from a mile away (view spoiler)[like the big bad turning out to be Genesis. You can figure that out within the first few issues of the event without having to rub two brain cells together (hide spoiler)] . Finally, we are only about 15 issues into these new X runs and we already have a huge status shakeup. I generally like the episodic nature of modern comics vs the one-off, monster of the week nature of older comic books, but I would much rather have one issue stories than changing the established lore every single year. But once I got past those frustrations, this event was really fun. I loved the art, the characters, most of the single issues, and the action. Even some of the stupid contests ended up being interesting (like the staring contest with Wolverine. Again, you think I'm kidding about these stupid contests but I'm really, really not). Despite my problems with this, it was charming enough to force me to like it. Just go into it with the right expectations.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christian Zamora-Dahmen

    Two stars the first half. Four stars the second one. This was an odd event. It involved too many issues and wasted half of them on this search for these swords that had very little to do with the characters and ended up adding nothing to the main plot. It’s evident Tini Howard has her thing about fantasy and stuff, which is fine, but she forced these ideas into a story that didn’t really had a place for most of this stuff. Also, this first half was plagued with a serious narrative problem: “tellin Two stars the first half. Four stars the second one. This was an odd event. It involved too many issues and wasted half of them on this search for these swords that had very little to do with the characters and ended up adding nothing to the main plot. It’s evident Tini Howard has her thing about fantasy and stuff, which is fine, but she forced these ideas into a story that didn’t really had a place for most of this stuff. Also, this first half was plagued with a serious narrative problem: “telling instead of showing.” Every issue had these huge text descriptions of the worlds, their leaders, their hierarchy... when the story was actually about something else. They were part of it, of course, but none of that information mattered in the end. Not in a way that it got built into the story. That was a distracting waste of space and momentum. The second part was odd in a different way. The battles were something different than what we were thought to believe. For starters, the swords didn’t matter at all. And it became a bit corky at times, but that’s okay, I can roll with the punches. As a whole, I expected way more of this event. I could feel that Hickman was not that involved and the lack of his guiding hand was way too obvious. On the other hand, Tini Howard got a lot of room, but you have to take a look at her Excalibur issues before this event, and you get the idea how she approaches these stories. So, for me, it’s a mixed bag. There were some beautiful moments, lots of wasted time, and most of the first half could have been one single issue.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Yep, I will wonder until the end of his run on the X Books how many, if any, of Hickman's changes last. Until then I'm along for the ride, even after the skepticism I had about this story arc when it was advertised. Among other things Hickman has done well is that he managed to take a threat from the debut issue of New X-Men decades ago and turn it into a viable supporting character of its own. Then he adds, because I feel like using this term, a dark side version of Krakoa in Arrkko that has be Yep, I will wonder until the end of his run on the X Books how many, if any, of Hickman's changes last. Until then I'm along for the ride, even after the skepticism I had about this story arc when it was advertised. Among other things Hickman has done well is that he managed to take a threat from the debut issue of New X-Men decades ago and turn it into a viable supporting character of its own. Then he adds, because I feel like using this term, a dark side version of Krakoa in Arrkko that has been stranded in another dimension? Said counterpart had been sealed away because of threats from it and the other dimension, and as I write this I think Hickman could write a comics adaptation of the end times going on in Stross' Laundry Files series. In some ways Apocalypse does resemble Stross' Bob Howard in that Apocalypse is doing what he believes is the right things regardless of how much damage his actions does to him or others. Never did I think I could become engaged in this, IMO, pretty lame villain as a main character in a story. Hell, they even managed to redeem Scott Summer a little bit. That alone is nearly award winning. Toss in the creation of double digit new characters, some of whom appear to be sticking around for awhile, and there is a lot happening here. Enjoy the moments Storm and Magik receive. Plus, Hickman created a new status for the Captain Britain Corps, showed Saturnyne to be possibly The master manipulator of the Marvel Comics Universe.

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