We’re coming down the homestretch of Hickman’s
X-men reboot and I for one couldn’t be more excited. I’m expecting more
than a few “Oh my god” moments before in the final House and Powers issues.
It’s hard to believe this week’s Powers of X #5 is the 10th chapter in Jonathan
Hickman’s fantastic X-Men reboot. House of X and Powers of X are wonderful
achievements in storytelling. The sheer scale at which he’s spinning his narrative
is really mind-blowing if you think about. This story covers events over a thousand
years all taking place within 10 distinct lifetimes. I think if Marvel tried to explain
just exactly what Hickman was planning on doing before it launched many readers
would have been overwhelmed. Hickman’s done a masterful job crafting an
intensely engaging narrative that’s relatively easy to follow, given the scope of
storytelling involved. Not that House of X and Powers of X are anything
close to paint by numbers. There’s so much brewing beneath the surface
of the story. He fills every issue with deep cutting implications. There are
multiple call-backs and nods to past X- Men stories and creators. At this point it
feels like everyone is having their own reading experience. I haven’t talked to two
people who feel exactly the same way about the story they’re reading. I’ve personally
heard so many different and exciting interpretations of what’s going on
in this story and where it’s all headed. And that’s the most exciting part for my money.
Jonathan Hickman has taken every reader who’s chosen to take this amazing
ride with him and thrown them in the deep end with no safety net. And that’s
exactly why it’s the most talked about comic story in years. It’s what makes the
narrative exceptionally engaging. Jonathan Hickman isn’t telling readers how
they need to feel. He’s giving all of us an opportunity to have our own personal experience
with these wonderful characters. He’s giving readers the benefit
of the doubt and allowing us to come to our own conclusions about the events and
actions in the story. This is what builds excitement. This is what draws lapsed
comic readers back into their local shop shops after years away. The opportunity
to fully engage in a story on our own terms.
I’ve probably waxed poetic about Jonathan Hickman’s House of X Powers of X
achievements enough. Bottom line up front Powers of X #5 receives my highest
recommendation. Hickman takes this issue to build a tremendous amount of
connective tissue with previous issues and expand on the X3 Ascension story,
that’s honestly been the hardest to interpret. For me at least.
It’s time to dive into all the sublime details of the latest installment of Jonathan
Hickman’s X-Men reboot. It’s time for my Powers of X #5 comic book review.
The art from R.B. Silva noticeably improved from issue 1 until now. He and color
artist Marte Gracia, the visual glue that binds the House and Powers series, turn
in another excellent effort on Powers of X #5.
My personal favorite image is Emma Frost visiting Krakoa with Charles and Erik.
She utters the phrase that’s the title of this issue “for the children.” As she
reluctantly agrees to join them on their mission to secure a future for mutantkind.
It’s a beautiful image but what’s most striking to me is the tower she’s looking
upon. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser in the
X2 and X3 timeframes. It appears the future stronghold of the Man Machine
supremacy resides on Krakoa. Or perhaps even Krakoa expanded and raised
towers across the globe in the future. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent image of the
White Queen looking over the new kingdom she will help rule.
The visuals from R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia continue to impress. I rate the art 4
out of 5. Before I get started I want to point out what
a great job Jonathan Hickman is doing telling this story in a non-linear fashion.
Telling a coherent narrative out of sequence is challenging. The writer needs
to make certain points stick out in such a way that readers experience an “ah-ha” moment
when they finally tie together later on. Hickman’s challenge is double-so
here, because he’s telling a non-linear story within differentiating timelines. He’s
jumping between different lifetimes and at this point I’m pretty certain he’s
doing it within singular story sequences. The X0 and X1 stories in this book appear
to lead directly into the events of House of X #5. Last week’s issue. But I actually
don’t think that’s happening. I think we’re seeing how Charles learned from those events
and is perfecting the timeline sequences to fix the future, so to speak.
Of course, I could be dead wrong. But that’s how I’m reading the events in this
comic. Please tell me if you have a different interpretation in the comments.
This week we get the first appearance of Forge and I couldn’t be happier. He’s a
great character that’s criminally underutilized. In fact, my friend at Comics, by
Perch Youtube, recently did a great video about Forge and how he’s been
misused. I’m going to drop a link to that video in the description and in the
endscreens for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. Forge is a Native American
mutant with the power of invention. And he plays a huge role in the new powers
of Cerebro, introduced just last week. Charles tells Forge Beast has taken Cerebro
as far as he can. But Charles needs more. He needs greater range and the ability
to copy every mutant mind on the planet and store them. Forge tells Charles
he’ll need a lot of power and redundancy. Charles states he plans on storing
the data in 5 distinct locations around the globe.
I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent but here goes. Charles is
preparing his plan to resurrect the 16 million mutants who died at Genosha. But
he’s not planning on stopping it. It seems like with enough warning he can likely
prevent the mutant genocide or at least try. But he doesn’t seem to want that at
all. It almost feels like he needs that event to occur to galvanize mutants to his
cause and enact his bold strategy. But Charles can’t know what would happen if
he tries saving all the mutants lives lost on Genosha. That could fix the timeline. I
really hope Hickman touches on this subject and gives Charles’ reasoning for not
intervening. Because it feels borderline evil for Charles to allow a near extinction
event to occur and do nothing to stop it. Just my thoughts on the implications of
the events that are unfolding regarding the victims of Genosha. Sorry about that
lets talk some more about Cerebro. Charles is currently using Cerebro (Mark 7).
Forge configured this Cerebro to run on a Krakoan No-Place vent, an unlimited power
source for mutants on the island. The first note indicates Forge is mastering
Krakoa’s biological machine based technology and a revolution in Krakoan tech
is imminent. As previously mentioned, once a week Charles downloads all
the minds on Korakoa. And we now learn that once a year he does a full
download of fresh copies of every mutant mind. The last two notes are very interesting.
Extremely powerful telepaths can replace their own minds with
legacy versions. Charles has already done this twice.
This seems exceptionally dangerous. Perhaps during one of these two downloads
is when Cassandra Nova infiltrated Charles mind, if that indeed happened. Or
maybe somebody corrupted the source data and the current version of Charles is
altered in some way. The implication of telepaths replacing their own minds are
downright scary in my opinion. In fact, who’s ensuring the fidelity of all the mind
downloads? The more I think about this the more ways I see it going sideways.
The comic then moves to what I think is the best part of the story. Charles and
Erik recruiting Emma Frost to be part of the governing body of Krakoa. She
correctly points out an issue with their plan. Placing all the mutants of the world
on one location directly led to mutant genocide at Genosha. Charles explains they
have plans in place and in 1 year the mutant population of Krakoa will grow from
several mutants to as high as two million. Then things get really interesting.
They need the Hellfire Corporation’s infrastructure to help legally distribute the
mutant drugs they’re leveraging for mutant sovereignty. For her help, they offer
50-year exclusive distribution rights for the drugs. They also offer her two seats
on the twelve-mutant government council. She asks if the government is
permanent. Charles responds, “Perhaps, we’ll find our way as we grow.
Regardless, it’s the spark that sets things in motion.” Hickman gives Magneto an
absolutely money line following it. “And what begins as a fire will grow into an
inferno.” Really enjoyed that line. She asks why two seats.
It’s because they need her and Sebastian Shaw to join the new Krakoan
government. While Emma will be the legitimate face of their Krakoan drug
distribution operation. They need Shaw to use Krakoa’s super drugs on the black
market to secure the freedom of mutants in countries who refuse their drugs.
This is one shady Charles idea I completely get behind. Utilizing black-market
trading to free mutants is worth breaking the law in my opinion. The White Queen
agrees but for three seats in the government. We know the identity of 4 of the 12 members
of the Quiet Council of Krakoa. Professor X and Magento hold seats in the
autumn section and Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost hold seats in the spring section.
No member of the winter or summer sections are revealed but I imagine
we’re going to see some traditional villains fill many of these chairs. Cypher
and Krakoa are the 13 and 14 members and hold positions as seemingly overseers
of the government. Perhaps as a form of checks and balances or even a tie-breaking
vote. It’s going to be interesting to learn the full make-up of the council.
Charles then projects a message to all mutants of the world inviting them to their
new home on Krakoa. We see several historically villainous mutants who arrived
in House of X #5 but the most interesting recipient is Namor. And he’s less than
impressed with Charles plans for mutantkind. After Charles asks him to come home Namor
responds with contempt. “It’s good that you’ve finally figured this out…but
let me ask you. Do I strike you as someone who’s just now realized how much better I
am than everyone else? And do you actually think I believe that you feel that
way too? Go away little man. And don’t come back until you really mean it.” Terrific
dialogue on Hickman’s part. He gives Namor a very distinct personality and motivation
in one short scene. Namor is one of the better Marvel characters
that’s really been misused for a long time. Although he’s gotten a bit of shine
in the current, very underrated, Invaders series. Can’t wait to see what Charles has
planned for Namor. I imagine a seat at the council is in his future.
The X3 story in Powers of X is definitely the most ambiguous thus far. But
Hickman provides a bit of clarity this week. The Phalanx accept the offer of post-
human assimilation. But it comes with a very heavy price. The elder is consumed
by the Phalanx. And that won’t be the end of it. When the Phalanx absorb the
collective intelligence of earth into their own. They will consume the entire planet
and leave nothing living behind. I still have a feeling the Librarian is Moira in her
form altered by Apocalypse. And she’s trying to learn how to end the third threat
to mutant survival, assimilation into the Phalanx. I could be way off base. This is
definitely the hardest story for me to make out personally.
The last set of reference materials, Types of Societies (Universal), may provide a
key to saving the world from assimilation. The pages describe How a Titan
becomes and Stronghold and finally a Dominion. In the notes it states “the only
primal threat that a Dominion fears are the World-Eater, Galactus, and the
singular universal manifestation of life, the Phoenix.” So Hickman’s saying we
have a chance to defeat the Phalanx. I’m not sure exactly how this is going to end
but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very exciting.
Hickman is doing fantastic work giving many of the big player’s reason and
purpose for their roles. In most cases they’re the only mutant with the
prerequisite powers or experience to handle their responsibilities. The dialogue is
once again top-notch. I rate the characterization 5 out of 5. This is an exposition
heavy issue that connects a ton of dots together. I rate the plot 4.5 out of 5.
Before I wrap this up I wanted to send a friendly reminder if you can’t get enough
House of X and Powers of X be sure to watch tomorrow’s edition of Outside the
Bleed with my good friend Skipntosh. We’ll give our final thoughts on the events
of Powers of X #5 as well theorize what it all means and where we believe the
story is heading. We leave the margins of the comic book and explore all the
implications House of X #5 has on the X-Men as well and the Marvel Comics
Universe. Jonathan Hickman answers several key questions
about Cerebro, the power structure on Krakoa and Namor in Powers of
X #5. This is probably the most straightforward comic from the Powers series
so far and I liked it a lot. R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia continue elevating Hickman’s
story with terrific visuals. Hickman more than holds up his end of the
bargain with pitch perfect characterization and dialogue and a well-executed
plot line. I rate Powers of X #5 4.5 out of 5. This is an excellent comic book
bordering on a 5 star rating. Jonathan Hickman has set up a ton of plot
threads and mysteries in 10 short weeks. There’s no way he can pay everything
off in the final two issues. But he’s set up his own X-Men series very well moving
forward. You can see where Gerry Duggan’s Marauders fits into the big picture
now. Kitty Pryde and her crew are going to be going into hostile territory and
returning mutants to their Krakoan homeland. I’m pretty sure one of the primary
functions of Ben Percy’s X-Force is investigating and confirming mutants are dead
before resurrection. That’s actually a really cool idea. I’m not sure
exactly how Excalibur and Fallen Angels fit into the overall story but I have no doubt
they’ll both be well conceived and play important roles.
We’re coming down the homestretch of Hickman’s X-men reboot and I for one
couldn’t be more excited. I’m expecting more than a few “Oh my god” moments
before we finish the final House and Powers issues.