Powers of X #3 is the weakest issue thus far in this new X-Men imagining, which is by no means a back-handed superlative to be ashamed of. It's kind of like singling out the worst player on the '92 Olympic Dream Team; they might not be Michael Jordan, but they were good enough to stand among greats. So, calling the fifth issue in a series that so far has been one of the best X-titles produced in over a decade weaker than previous releases isn't exactly an insult. Powers of X #3 simply pumps the brakes on the insanity and narrows its focus on a few key character and one specific time and place.
The grand sweeping scale of previous issues isn't as prevalent here, but make no mistake about it Powers of X #3 is an amazing comic book. It just feels more like another chapter instead of another startling revelations. But hey, not every issue can be House of X #2.
Talking about any issue of either Powers of X or House of X feels like it will inevitably lead to some massive spoilers. This isn't because we, as fans, have such a sensitive aversion to finding out what happens in a piece of pop culture before we properly consume it. No, Powers of X #3 is difficult to talk about as much as previous installments of the story unfolding over two miniseries because each issue of the story holds some vital bit of information which acts as a building block to the brave new world we see on the page. Without really spoiling anything too detrimental, we will say that Powers of X #3 focuses on the "X2" era, which presumably takes place one hundred years in the future.
We get a glimpse at what The Church of Ascendancy is up to on a grand scale in this issue, and boy, it ain't pretty (it's especially disturbing for parents of small children, so fair warning). Hickman is amazing at building a fully-realized world and natural progression in cultural shifts as a response to a unique factor that is not of our world. In this case, it's mutants and how human society evolves against them. The plotting is solid and moves quickly in Powers of X #3. The action scenes are simply gorgeous and don't detract from the story thanks to stellar artwork from R.B. Silva.
While the events of Powers of X #3 may not hold the same significance as discovering Moira MacTaggert was a mutant the whole time and she is the key to unlocking this insane time and space-traversing narrative, but its final few pages will make readers who have been following along utter, "oh...I see..." as they're finishing the issue. Yes, we are well aware that isn't necessarily a ringing endorsement due to how vague it sounds. But being vague is paramount. It's an experience you need to enjoy for yourself.
Despite being well written and gorgeously illustrated, the strongest element of Powers of X #3 is the characterizations. The new additions like Rasputin and Cardinal are great, but the versions of Nimrod, Apocalypse and even grizzled Wolverine (which we've seen a million times) are all wonderful. When he isn't engaging in an act of horrific violence, there isn't a panel with Nimrod in it that doesn't garner a chuckle. His apologetic sociopath shtick is priceless and never gets old. Also, seeing En Sabah Nur in another leadership role is great. He's boisterous, determined and so very, very Apocalypse. His relationship with Wolverine is also great. The two of them speak to one another like a could of senior citizens arguing over the semantics of some mundane event in a park in between chess moves.
If you've ever loved the X-Men in your life, no matter when that love bloomed or when it died or if it still blossoms with each new release, this series should be a must read. Powers of X #3 may feel slightly less eventful than previous issues, but that really isn't the case. We just get to see more of a specific time and place and if anything, the narrow scope actually widens the landscape. We can extrapolate the events which occur in Powers of X #3 and see how they can profoundly affect the rest of the X-Men Universe.