Returning To The X-Men: House Of X #6
It’s been nearly six years since I last picked up a new X-Men comic with any real consistency. The last series I read with any regularity featuring the merry mutants was Jason Aaron‘s Wolverine and the X-Men. Which apparently ended around six years ago. It’s fair to say that I’m a little out of touch with that side of the Marvel Universe (though I have been following both Old Man Logan and Dead Man Logan, but those series didn’t really involve the X-Men as much as a team book would). More than a little, honestly. A lot has happened in the six years I’ve been away, and since I barely pay attention to solicitations I have missed most of it.
But with Johnathan Hickman steering the X-Men in a new direction with both House and Powers Of X, I thought this might be a good time to start reading X-Men comics again.
But how easy is it to jump back in relatively blind after more than half a decade away?
Expect spoilers as I try to make sense of the comic.
It has taken me longer to write the penultimate Returning To The X-Men column than I expected or hoped it would. Although part of that is down to some spontaneous renovations at home, it’s also because it took me longer to digest this issue than the others. When it comes to the finale to one half of the current X-event, I had a lot of trouble deciding whether this was the end or a beginning.
That probably sounds cliched.
But here’s the thing; as House/Powers Of X has progressed, it has felt less like a culmination of events that led to the first issue and more of a clean slate for Hickman to restart the X-Men’s direct without rebooting or retconning anything. In fact, a knowledge of certain key events in mutant history does provide an additional depth to your understanding, but it isn’t required as Hickman does a great job in revealing the bare minimum to grasp why those key events were key events.
Yes, you probably need at least some understand as to who the X-Men are, but anybody who has read X-Men comics in the past (even if you haven’t read in years) will recognize the major characters – though some changes may throw you for a loop (such as Professor X walking again – though at least he’s still bald). Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know who Glob Herman or Armor is as long as you know who the core X-Men characters are (Cyclops, Magneto, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Xavier to name just a few).
Because this story is framed more as a beginning than an ending, it is perhaps the most accessible event Marvel have had in years.
House Of X-#6 spends most of the issue discussing the new laws of the mutant nation and how they apply to mutants going forward. It’s perhaps one of the most unconventional finales that I have read in a long time in that it spends very little time recapping previous events before going into a balls to the wall action issue – instead, we see the new Council of Mutants calmly and rationally deciding the first three laws and passing judgement on a mutant who has violated one of them. Although this still wraps up the six issues of House Of X, it also firmly establishes the new status quo for the Marvel universe and its merry mutants, and it does so with a subtle grace that for me has come to define this event.
When it comes to the point of this column, exploring whether a new reader can effectively just jump in with the current X-Event with only enough X-Men knowledge to recognize a few characters, well the answer is a clear and obvious yes – if you start at the beginning.
“You see I know how you humans love your symbolism, almost as much as you love you religion. And I wanted you – I needed you – to understand… you have new gods now.”Magneto, House Of X, #1 p.47.
I keep leaving this image and quote in the column because, for me, it’s emblematic of the series as a whole. It’s Hickman, through Magneto, setting the stage for the future of the X-Men.
Will I understand next week’s installment in the saga, Powers Of X #6? Do I regret skipping six years of X-Books? Am I ever going to find out how Xavier is walking again*? Did I get the right release schedule?
We might find out next week. We might not.
Marvel provided a FREE copy for review purposes, but I read the comic in print from my LCS.
*The answer is yes, but it made no sense when two of my friends told me individually last week, but it basically boils down to “comics being comics” which I’ve kind of accepted with an air of nonchalance.