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.
Well House Of X #4 was… well let’s just say it had some finality to it. Especially for a certain group of mutants. After the heavy death toll last issue, I was curious how Hickman was going to reverse the body count; especially with said mutants being featured in October’s relaunch of the X-Books, you knew the deaths wouldn’t stick. I wasn’t expecting to see the solution revealed in House Of X #5.
I’ve been really enjoying the House/Powers Of X event thus far, it has been an interesting reintroduction to the X-Men for me, and is an event that isn’t using huge set piece fight scenes to sell comics. No, the appeal of this event for me is that we’re getting a a story that’s going to reframe how we look at the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, an event that is more of a beginning than a culmination of several years worth of preplanning and build up.
It is perhaps the most accessible event Marvel have had in years.
But despite the eight issues we’ve had so far, I’m still not overly sure how happy I am with this comic as a whole.
The solution to the death of an entire team of X-Men last issue feels… strangely cheap. It removes the value of their sacrifice, and even with Xavier’s “a piece of me dies each time you do” line to the newly resurrected Cyclops, the resurrection process really removes almost any threat of death to the mutants going forward.
Because whenever they die, a team of mutants can just regrow a clone body for Xavier to imprint a copy of said mutant’s mind into. Which gives the term comic book death an entirely new meaning. It also makes every mutant functionally immortal.
House Of X #5 does gives us several ground rules surrounding the mutant team’s resurrection ability, justifying (or limiting) their use as a story device, but it rings oddly hollow.
Especially when you add in the oddly fanatical scenes that proceed the resurrections. There are some uncomfortable connotations with how those scenes play out, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that line of fanaticism is carried on for the finale of House Of X and beyond (and if it is, how exactly will there be a compelling reason for the X-Men to leave Krakoa?
And then you have to wander about Wolverine’s adamantium. Does the new copy/clone/whatever have the metal bones? And if so how? These are the burning questions that detail obsessed nerds will want to know.
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. This issue… will leave you thoroughly confused if you start here, but then what would you expect starting a twelve issue story as it nears the end?
“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 #5? 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.