Over the past 12 weeks, writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva have redefined and re-established the arc of the X-Men. Since it was first announced Hickman would be taking the team in a new direction, there's been plenty of hype revolving around his House of X and Powers of X series. With the release of Powers of X #6, it's time to ask whether or not the anticipation was warranted.
Coming together to tell one unified, groundbreaking story, Hickman's two X-series dared to be different. The writer took a lot of familiar comic book tropes, like the constant resurrection of deceased characters, and made them sensible and surprising. There has been a fair amount of emotional character beats, too. And most importantly, Hickman set the stage for all manner of X-Men stories for years to come.
Hickman's storytelling and world building are fascinating throughout the twin miniseries. He creates and elaborates on many new pieces in the X-Men mythos. There were numerous important pieces of new information to take in, perhaps the most influential being the secret history of Moira MacTaggert as a mutant, the revelation that the X-Men have essentially conquered death, and learning about whatever the heck is going on in the far future regarding the post-human society.
Speaking of that post-human society, Hickman basically introduced the Marvel Universe's version of Brainiac. For whatever reason, in the far-future, the technologically elevated and advanced people have this very disturbing goal of becoming part of some grander collective. Beings known as the Phalanx will come to destroy the Earth, absorbing its culture and history, and then depositing it into a Dominion, which is essentially an endless collection of knowledge resting at the heart of a black hole.
Thanks to Powers of X #6, we know Moira and Wolverine made it to this far-future in Moira's sixth life, and Moira is now trying to prevent that in her current life. She's trying to prevent mutants from losing their struggle to survive, period. Whatever all the Phalanx and Dominion stuff has to do with the X-Men is anyone's guess. It's a safe bet, though, that it will have something to do with the endgame of Hickman's X-Men run as a whole.
In many regards, the beginnings of Hickman's time with the X-Men was definitely deserving of the hype it got. It's epic, impactful and perfectly opens numerous doors leading into the future of the X-Men. But it also failed in other ways. As encompassing and magnificent as Hickman's storytelling can be, there's a lot to keep track of between House of X and Powers of X, to the point where some of the finer details may be lost on more casual readers.
Powers of X jumps across time at various points to show the history of mutants throughout the past and future. While keeping track of the time jumps isn't too tricky, the series introduced a slew of new characters in these various times. It's not entirely clear which of these characters will remain relevant throughout the bulk of Hickman's larger X-Men run. Again, it's a lot to keep track of, and it's not always clear what fans should be mainly focusing on.
Perhaps the biggest grievance of Hickman's House of X and Powers of X is the treatment of the characters. Other than maybe Wolverine and Nightcrawler, most of the mutants and other side characters in these two miniseries all seem to fill the same role. Everyone delivers exposition that should probably only be coming from three or four characters, like Xavier and Magneto, who completely understand the big picture. It's as if Hickman, at certain points, is writing the same character with many different faces.
However, these problems don't grind the series to a halt at any point. They can be easily forgiven, in fact. Yes, there's a lot to keep tabs on, but if you give the two miniseries another read through, you'll probably be fine. And Hickman will undoubtedly have plenty of time to play with the intricacies of all the individual characters during his main X-Men series. If his time with the Avengers is any indicator, it's that he knows to care for his characters.
The most important goal of Hickman's House of X and Powers of X miniseries was to establish the groundwork for the future of the X-Men. The writer accomplished that with relative ease. The potential for the X-Men is endless, given everything Hickman has introduced these past 12 weeks. If you haven't read the two miniseries yet, now's a great time to catch up. It'll be fully worth your time, as they easily lived up to all the hype they got.
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