It’s been a long time since the X-men comics were a must read for comics fans, but superstar author Jonathan Hickman is poised to change this with his new take on the many X-men characters in House of X/Powers of X. These two limited series replaced all of the X books that were being published in the summer of 2019 in favor of telling one overarching tale of mutants setting up their own country to take care of their community. While it’s hard to say if this will fix some of the problems the X-men have had, this story has definitely put the X-men back on the comics’ map.
The stories in House of X/Powers of X alternate. The House of X tales depict the X-men in the present setting up their new country on the living island Krakoa. It also includes startling revelations about their past. The Powers of X show what happens 100 and 1000 years in the future for mutants. In the present, all mutants will be welcome on Krakoa, even the past villains of the X-men. There are portals on the island that let any mutant teleport around the globe. The mutants are also developing life saving drugs on the island for the rest of humanity, but they will charge humans for these drugs. This is a very different look for the X-men. There are several shocking revelations in these books that I won’t spoil here but the status quo is irrevocably upended and the reader will have to look at some long time X-men characters with new eyes. The changes seem to be well thought out and not a last minute adjustment. The X-men are no longer a hunted minority on the run from a humanity that doesn’t understand them, they are a powerful community that is taking matters into their own hands.
As you would expect with a high profile reboot of the X-men, the art is excellent. Pepe Larraz does the art on House of X, RB Silva draws on Powers of X and Marte Gracia contributes colors for both. It’s remarkable how well the artwork works from House of X to Powers of X and connects both stories. The lines are clean and both artists depict detailed, expressive characters that look distinct from one another, an important skill when dealing with so many heroes and villains. The colors are vibrant and pop off the page. Hickman includes his signature graphs and white pages where he breaks down some of the action in stark quotes and mysterious timelines. The mutants even have their own language now that can be decoded if you have a key. While these interludes can be interesting, sometimes they slow the story down and take up a lot of precious story space. Comic readers expecting art and action on every page may be disappointed with the prose on these pages.
This new status quo on the X-men books is going to affect many of the stories Marvel is tells going forward. Six new X-men titles immediately follow this book with X-men by Hickman and The Marauders by Gerry Duggan being the standouts. Most public libraries will want to have this book even though it’s an expensive purchase. Hickman has successfully reset the table for the X-men. The big question long term is how will fans adapt to the X-men as they take decidedly less ‘heroic’ actions going forward. They are their own nation state now and they act accordingly. Will the more subtle action of diplomats and bureaucrats be appealing? Can the former heroes and villains coexist on Krakoa? What happens when different agendas emerge? Will there be political factions that develop? These new questions will hopefully give fans many interesting stories in the immediate future.
House of X/Powers of X
By Jonathan Hickman
Art by Pepe Larraz, RB Silva
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)