One of the most heralded comic launches of the year has been writer Jonathan Hickman's return to Marvel for a relaunch of the X-Men, starting this week with House of X #1, alongside artist Pepe Larraz. A soft reboot of the line, the debut issue largely discounts recent events to present a fresh jumping-on point.
The opening issue serves as a new genesis, as mutant populations have sharply increased while the sentient mutant island Krakoa has begun to spread to different points across the globe. Emma Frost and Magneto welcome a delegation of international ambassadors and representatives to give them a quick tour of this new world while setting the terms of the new mutant state and its relationship to humanity.
The new status quo established here is sure to reverberate across the Marvel Universe for years, not unlike Hickman's previous work simultaneously writing Avengers and New Avengers or Fantastic Four and Future Foundation. Hickman wisely uses the introductory tour as a framing device to seamlessly weave in exposition and guide readers along to what Earth's mutant population has been up to.
Similarly, Hickman's tried-and-true tropes from his creator-owned titles like East of West and Nightly News resurface here, including infographics, news reports and ciphered messages to expand the world he's establishing. This is still very much the Marvel Universe, and Hickman revisits some fan-favorite characters, but the focus here is the bold, confident new vision for the X-Men. And while mutants are enjoying a new beginning, it's clear relatively early on that this utopia isn't all that it seems.
This ambitious launch is rendered beautifully by Larraz, with color artist Marte Garcia, showcasing the immense scope of the X-Men's reintroduction, with gorgeously surreal detail. Hickman is no stranger to writing sci-fi utopias, but Larraz's work is immersive as the characters venture deeper into their strange, new home. There is a sense that everything before House of X for the X-Men was merely prologue.
House of X #1 serves as a quick introduction to the new status quo for mutants in the Marvel Universe. Many of the familiar characters are back in action, but the trappings have been reimagined to fit this bold vision of a mutant utopia that's here to stay. Dense but accessible, it's a solid read for new readers and longtime fans and promises big things in store.