HOUSE OF X #1
Writer: Johnathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Before reading HOUSE OF X:
Here I am the night before one of the biggest X-Men comic releases in the past decade, HOUSE OF X. POWERS OF X (ten), it’s sister comic, is one week away from debuting. These two are big for several reasons, but here are a few.
1. “Relaunch” of X-Men.
X-fans of future past know better by now to not get our hopes up for things like this. How many times have we gotten an “ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT, ALL-CONFUSING NEW ASTONISHING UNCANNY X-MEN!” It’s one of Marvel’s favorite things to do when X-Men sales are declining. But they’ve done it so frequently, fans aren’t buying into it the way they used to. This has led to a copious number of lackluster titles and continuity holes the size of Colossus’ biceps. Along with recent undone deaths of several big players in the X-Men franchise (Jean Grey, Wolverine, Scott Summers, Charles Xavier, probably others) it feels like now not only does X-Men need a relaunch, fans want a relaunch…but only by the right person.
2. Hickman’s Return.
Jonathan Hickman is a comic book writer, he is very good at his job. He is responsible for breathing new life into some of Marvel’s heavy hitting titles, most notably: Fantastic Four, Avengers, and recently Secret Wars. Hickman has a bit of a reputation for writing comics in the grander scope of things. He plays by no rules and writes the sort of comics that he would personally want to read. His words on pitching HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X to Marvel: “So, I thought about what I wanted to do, and more importantly, what I thought the line needed, and then I flew up to the Marvel offices and pitched all of senior editorial what I had in mind. We met for a while, fought a little bit, then I went back home and polished everything up…” oh also, he cancelled all the X-books.
3. No More Mutants
There are no current X-Men books being released besides HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X. That’s right, Marvel cancelled everything by Hickman’s request explaining “this is a whole new era for the X-Men. This is what we're doing now.” Everything from the main Uncanny X-Men title to X-23’s solo series was put to a halt. That’s crazy! After those two books are finished, it was released during SDCC that a wave of 6 different X-books will be released. The majority of which are relaunches of fan favorite titles… and between you and me, they all look amazing. I suppose technically there are more mutants, like a lot more. Disregard title of this paragraph.
What I’m expecting for HOUSE OF X:
I DON’T KNOW. Marvel and Hickman have been so incredibly coy with this release, they’re not letting anything slip. Who’s the villain? Are there villains? What time does this take place in? Is Storm still the coolest X-Men on the team? WHAT’S HAPPENING. I’m expecting plenty of explanation on stories that have been left open for far too long. I want juicy drama between Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean. I would like to see prominent X-Men villains making a return to actually being evil, like Apocalypse. But more than anything, I want to read something different. I want to read an X-Men story that gives everyone an opportunity to jump in and love it.
After reading HOUSE OF X:
Damn. That was altogether unexpected, but so enjoyable. Which I believe will be the overall theme for Hickman’s X-Men.
The setting has been meticulously thought over, that is clear. Krakoa is set as the new homeland for mutantkind. (Which is too coincidental because I am literally reading Deadly Genesis right now which is basically a retcon of Krakoa island.) Krakoa is essentially a mutant that can manipulate it’s landscape and flora to its will for protection or resource. The three different flora that mutants are leveraging with the humans can extend human life by 5 years, act as a super drug, and cure diseases of the mind, respectively. The need the leverage to ensure their time on Krakoa is peaceful and entirely undisturbed by human nonsense.
What I enjoy about this so far is that it makes sense. It is not some outlandish plot that makes the reader go beyond what is reasonable, this is a race using their resources to get what they want from the rest of the world.
My two favorite scenes of this issue come from Magneto and Cyclops, who are for the most part the central characters at this time. Cyclops letting Reed Richards know his son is welcome on Krakoa anytime, I audibly went “Oooo!” as this happened. Also, Magneto letting the humans know once and for all, Mutant’s are not looking to negotiate because they’re the Gods now. OOOO!
The best part of HOUSE OF X #1 for me was the informational pages that Hickman provides. They’re chock full of the answers to the questions you develop as you read. They also contain eerie symbols that we’re told is the Mutant’s new language. Humans can’t read it. ☹ One info page in particular made me internally jump for joy.
Hickman gives us the definitive list of Omega Level Mutants. This is HUGE. No X-Men comic has ever given a true explanation for not only who is Omega Level, but what Omega Level even means! Now we have a complete list for the mutants and what power classifies them as Omega. I nerded out hard over this.
All in all, as #1 issues go, this was a slam dunk. It is somehow satisfying none of my predictions were right. My excitement is practically uncontained for POWERS OF X next week and the staggered releases that follow. If you want to start reading X-Men, buy into this event. It is the blast off point for the next decade of X-books. This WILL be required reading and I’m so happy we’re all here for it!