The X-Men are once again the talk of the comics world as they take their rightful place as one of Marvel’s most popular series courtesy of a returning Jonathan Hickman. House of X and Powers of X intertwine to reveal the secret past, present, future, and far future of Mutantkind! It all starts when Charles Xavier reveals his new masterplan for Mutantkind, one that will bring mutants out of the shadow of humanity and into the light.
The X-Men in recent years have not had the forefront position in the Marvel Universe they traditionally have held. With these two series however, they have reclaimed their spot at the top of the totem pole in a big way – which can be attributed to the crazy vision Jonathan Hickman has put together. Hickman’s previous Marvel work includes a highly acclaimed run on Fantastic Four, a world-ending take on The Avengers and Secret Wars in 2015 which had a huge impact on the Marvel Universe. He has been absent from Marvel for the last four years, but has returned in a big way. This X-Men series is truly unique and has sent the series in an intriguing direction.
Having been around since the 1960s, you’d think there aren’t many new directions to take the X-Men in. But Hickman immediately turns the X-Men premise on its head by having Professor X abandon his pursuit of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants and instead choosing to forge a new society on the living island Krakoa. With friend/enemy Magneto now one of his closest advisors and a mixture of X-Men and longtime enemies acting as the island’s council, this is far removed from the Charles Xavier readers will be familiar with. Nevertheless, the logic that runs throughout Hickman’s work remains strong as he makes these big shifts in philosophy and character work.
Hickman also proves his chops with an in-depth knowledge of X-Men lore. His stunning reinterpretation of long-time X-Men ally Moira McTaggart allows him to present several takes on the X-Men’s past and present which revisit classic storylines including Age of Apocalypse, the Phalanax invasion, Onslaught and House of M. Beyond Professor X and Moira, Hickman also has a tremendous grasp on the X-Men family with Magneto being a particular standout and Cyclops finding some middle ground between his past demeanour and the more militaristic attitude he has taken in recent years. Intricate notes are also included that provide invaluable information on the history of mutantkind and the specifics of Krakoa.
Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva are brilliant on the art front. A mixture of classic and reinterpreted designs litter the story which are all top knotch. The new design for Professor X is a bit intimidating, but it definitely fits his new outlook and it’s easy to get used to. Both bring a ton of energy to the storytelling and are clearly having a ton of fun getting to mix classic X-Men with some new material.
This is one of the must-read comics of the year. Fans of X-Men will rejoice at their re-ascension to the top of the comic world and newcomers will be sucked right in.
House of X/Powers of X is published on 10 December from Marvel (9781302915704, h/b, £49.99)