After having epic runs on the Avengers and Fantastic Four, Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men relaunch was eagerly anticipated by comic book readers (yours truly included). House of X #1, the beginning of Hickman’s multi-year plan for Marvel’s mutants, does not disappoint.
House of X #1 establishes a brand new status quo for Marvel’s mutants — and it’s the best one since Grant Morrison’s work on the X-Men. Charles Xavier has a brand new vision for mutants, one that takes his beliefs in human/mutant co-existence in a less idealistic direction Rather than hope, Xavier has taken very pragmatic steps to secure the future of the mutant race, with both the mutant leader and Hickman carving out a space for mutants in the Marvel Universe.
Hickman provides a strong direction for the franchise that promises to take the X-Men to places they have never been before, filling his franchise debut with the high concepts he’s become known for. House of X is packed to the brim with big ideas, essentially acting as an extra sized guide to the new world Hickman is building for Marvel’s mutants. The first issue of this mini-series is dense, and does require some re-reading. There are also portions of the comic that, while intriguing, don’t make any sense… yet. House of X feels like Hickman is playing the long game, laying down enough story telling foundations to fuel a decade’s worth of X-Men stories. Despite the abundance of high concepts with which Hickman bombards readers, the narrative flows remarkably well.
The seeds for a future conflict are planted in the middle portion of Hickman’s script. The advert for his return to Marvel: “When two aggressive species share the same environment, evolution demand adaptation or dominance”, is very significant to the larger story being told. The inevitable conflict brewing for the X-Men isn’t anything drastically different than what’s come before, but the context in which it is being presented makes the idea very interesting. All of the details on the Xavier’s new vision and the X-Men’s possible enemies are further elaborated on – in true Hickman style – by supporting documents interspersed between scenes in House of X #1.
The use of supporting documents and graphics as a part of world building was previously used by the writer in his ongoing Image series, The Black Monday Murders. Hickman uses these information heavy pages to give an overview of mutantkind’s new position in the Marvel Universe, and to expand on some of the new ideas he’s introduced to the franchise without killing the story’s momentum. There are also details in those documents that will most likely become major plot points in future issues.
House of X focuses primarily on world building, but there are small character moments in the first issue. For example, Hickman writes a great Magneto. The master of magnetism may be part of Xavier’s new vision for the future, but his belief in the inferiority of humanity is still present in every line of dialogue he spouts to those he considers beneath him.
The art team on this comic does an excellent job. Pepe Larraz’ storytelling is clear, and his character work is solid. There’s a confrontation between two superheroes where Larraz’s skill with rendering facial expressions really shines.
Marte Gracias’ coloring work captures the wonder one feels when viewing everything Xavier has built. The duo work well together, and make House of X a beautiful book.
I have to say, the future of the X-Men is looking pretty bright right now. Here’s hoping next week’s Powers of X will be just as good.
Rating: 5/5 – A great start to a bold new era