New Comics on Pause: X-Men Week Edition – House of X/Powers of X
House of X/Powers of X
Writer: Johnathan Hickman
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowels
HOUSE OF X:
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Color Artist: Marte Garcia
POWERS OF X:
Pencilers: R.B. Silva with Pepe Larraz (#6)
Inkers: R.B. Silva with Adriano Di Benedetto (1-2)
Color Artist: Marte Garcia with David Curiel (#6)
Publisher Marvel Comics
X-Men week is a
great occasion. Outright Geekery gets to celebrate Marvel's famous
Mutants with our friends at CBI. Plus, it's my first foray into the
world of X-Men comics. I've been working my way through select
moments in the history of Homo Superior, and passing my new found
knowledge along to you in the form of trade paperback reviews. When I
turned in my review for X-Men Gold, Gaumer the OG Webmaster, pointed
out that it wasn't actually the newest available X-title on Hoopla.
That distinction falls to House of X/Powers of X.
titles' stories are so intertwined, it's hard to qualify House of
X/Powers of X's premise, but I'll do my best to provide a coherent
synopsis. Half establishment of a new X-Men timeline, and half vision
for the future of Mutantkind, these interconnected series redefine
the X-Men as Marvel moves into the new decade. House of X reveals
Professor Xavier's plan to raise Mutants to the same societal level
as humans. Powers of X provides the foundation on which the House of
X has been built, while also revealing details of the future the
Mutants could be headed toward.
As for a plot
description, the Mutants have established their own nation-state on
the island of Krakoa. On this island grows a plant that can be
synthesized to make various miracle drugs. Xavier offers free use of
these medicines to the nations of the world, as long as they
officially recognize Krakoa's sovereignty. Of course, humankind has
plans to keep the Mutants from rising beyond their station in
society. The Orchis Protocol is the newest embodiment of their
prejudice. The Orchis Protocol is described as a doomsday project.
Early on in the story, we learn that it's humankind's reaction to the
population increases and power consolidation of Mutants. Hickman
leaves it unclear as to if the project is meant to be prevention or
fail safe in the event of doomsday caused by the Mutants, or a weapon
that will bring doom upon the Mutants. This uncertainty helps build
suspense early in the comic and raises the stakes later on in the
Johnathan Hickman weaves together an intricate tale in House of
X/Powers of X. Cool graphics and info-sheets are interspersed
throughout each issue. These extras provide both background
information and add to the world building for this new era in Mutant
history. They also break up the sections of each chapter nicely. Both
mini-series are well written, but I prefer House of X's main
narrative over Powers of X's. Since the former held the most interest
for me, the latter felt like it was delaying plot advancement at
times. That being said, there were pieces of Powers of X that I
really liked. I was intrigued by Nimrod the Lesser, a character who
factors into one of the future plotlines. He's a robot that displays
a "kid with a magnifying glass and an ant hill" mentality.
These two traits combined made him a very entertaining character to
read. I also enjoyed the nihilistic bent of a Mutant named Xorn.
Without breaking the fourth wall, Xorn's attitude and dialogue
perfectly encapsulate aspects of the scenes he's featured in.
As can be
expected from a story rewriting the history of the X-Men, Mr.
Sinister is eventually introduced. Now I once attempted to read the
collected edition of 2015's Secret Wars. Before I put the book down
out of pure confusion, I did read a scene featuring Sinister. Because
of this, I know he's a wacky character. However, the first scene in
which he appears in House of X/Powers of X didn't feel like it fit
into the story's structure or tone. One of the most intense scenes in
the whole book had just finished, and suddenly the reader is treated
to several pages of Sinister spouting nonsense and cracking wise.
This is immediately followed by a gossip tabloid style info-graphic.
I could tell that the info-graph was meant to foreshadow the rest of
the story or even events to come in subsequent X books, but between
the language used and my lack of X-Men knowledge, a lot of what it
was meant to hint toward went straight over my head.
Even with the
sheer scale of the plot, it's relatively easy to follow the
overarching story. Though I wager it'll take multiple reads to really
catch all the details. The cohesion between the art teams helps to
strengthen the connection and flow between the two mini-series. The
art is impressive simply because of the sheer number of characters
both artists have to draw. Plus with all the narrative time jumps,
the artists also have to keep track of the design of the characters
who appear in multiple timelines. House of X's art has a polished
indie look to it. Although he's talented, I don't really care for
Silva's line work, but his art style gives Powers of X a more modern
The narrative ends rather abruptly, but there's no denying that the conclusion definitively kicks off a new age of Mutantdom within the Marvel Universe. Throw out everything you think you know about the X-Men and jump into these awe inspiring connected mini-series. The sheer scope of what Hickman has written is mind boggling. In the collected edition of House of X/Powers of X, he puts the "novel" into the term graphic novel. This is long-form story telling at its best. After a week spent reading X-Men comics I'm not sure if I've become a Marvel fan, but I'm damn sure I've become a fan of Hickman.
Writing: 4 / 5
Art: 4.5 / 5