Review: House of X #1 (of 6)

House of X #1

House of X #1 is bold and a fresh start to the X corner of the Marvel Universe. With that, it’s both a fresh start and a frustrating one. Written by Jonathan Hickman, House of X #1 is a new beginning for the X-Men. It’s a “bold” direction that feels like something we’ve seen before, multiple times, elsewhere.

Set at some point in time, the story is vague as far as that, mutants are united in a grand plan to stake their place in the world. They’ve declared themselves as a sovereign nation. Through a mix of their powers and the leadership of Professor X the issue is a planting of a flag as to the how, why, philosophy, and how the world reacts. It’s also out of left field. No other Marvel comic currently touches what should be a game-changing status-quo for the entire Marvel Universe.

And that’s part of the rub.

Hickman has shaken things up in a massive way as far as where Marvel’s mutants stand. Beyond some diplomats, we don’t really have much of a reaction from the world and other characters. A scene with the Fantastic Four projects as stand-ins for everyone. In any other year, this issue would likely be the beginning of a line-wide event.

And that’s the other thing. The how of this comic is something it feels like we’ve seen before also in a Hickman comic, Infinity. We’ve also seen the stance of a mutant nation numerous times in Genosha and Utopia and even the diplomatic and political ramifications of each. Hickman gives us a new direction with a remix of what’s come before. It feels new and been there done that.

New readers may have a different reading experience. Without personal history, the comic clearly lays things out explaining what’s going on and even providing handy infographics. It is both new reader friendly and could be frustrating for long term readers.

The art by Pepe Larraz is fantastic. Joining Larraz are Marte Gracia on color and Clayton Cowles on lettering. Together, subtle artistic choices deliver a tone that’s interesting with small details delivering lots of information. A smirk, body language, it all comes together to add to the story Hickman is weaving. The characters feel like the gods they are now acting like and there’s a sense of strength that has been missing for some time. This is embodied by Magneto whose scenes are pivotal in setting the status-quo and where things stand.

House of X #1 isn’t a bad comic. It’s also not quite a good comic either. House of X #1 is a hell of a deviation from releases just last week. It’s almost too bold with little progression from what has come before and such a jump that it leaves readers a bit confused. There isn’t an evolution to this point, it’s a clean break leaving too many questions unanswered. Maybe we’ll get those answers in Powers of X #1, the sister series to this one. Hickman generally sees his greatest writing strength as part of the big picture, not individual chapters. As is, this is both an exciting direction and a bit of a headscratcher.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Pepe Larraz
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.35 Overall: 7.65 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

7 comments

  • Togu Oppusunggu

    Agreed. I like the art, but I’m not sold on the story yet, as the characters are not that recognizable and there isn’t anything in this first story to help one relate to them yet. If this is a completely new take on the characters, I suppose writers have the right to do that. But whether I can relate to the characters as I did during the Claremont heyday is still very much up in question. I found the Age of X-Man series to be more refreshing so far.

    • Age of X-Man was interesting. This just feels like it’s a jarring start with little bridge from what happened before and generally what has been presented has been done before in X-Men and elsewhere. Doesn’t make it a bad comic. Also doesn’t make it the groundbreaking thing others are making it out to be.

      • Togu Oppusunggu

        I read it a second time today, and it still leaves me cold, and I’m finding myself continuing to agree with everything else you’ve commented. Yes, I don’t see it as anything groundbreaking yet. And it’s jarring, the continuity and personality development just aren’t there in this one issue. My hope is that the back story will reveal all in good time and in a good way. The opening few pages give some hope of that with the flower scenes of the X-men in familiar guises. Also, the first two pages show Cyclops and others coming out of a pod. Maybe this explains their strange personality shifts? Also, the review to Powers of X look hopeful, the personalities are a little more recognizable, though intriguingly, they are amalgams and in the future.

  • I pity how you STRUGGLED to talk something negative about this comic. The main criticism concerns fidelity to the characters’ personalities. In one page, we are presented to a Cyclops who is stronger, nicer, and with more depth than 5 years of Bendis on X-Men only dreamed of.

    • Not that difficult or a struggle at all. The comic:
      1) Retread concepts that have been done multiple times before in X-Men
      2) Presented a concept that was done in WildCATS 3.0
      3) Has absolutely no bridge from two comics that were out this past week
      4) Other than a scene with the Fantastic Four has no impact on the Marvel Universe for a status quo change that should reverberate throughout
      5) Has characterizations that, at this moment, make little sense

      See, not too hard.

  • I haven’t read it yet, and this might be a dumb question, but who is the guy in the big X helmet?

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