To be blunt, the X-Men books have been the most difficult books to put your trust in from Marvel. Up to this point these books have been all over the place and in desperate need for direction. The closest we got to something familiar for them was during the second half of the Uncanny X-Men run. Sometimes its really not asking too much to see some sort of solidarity in their place in the Marvel Universe. My reservations didn’t quite improve when I first got the announcement that it would be Hickman reshaping the world of the X-Men. The guy has vision, you can’t argue with that. However, he has some stories out there where he goes overboard. This could have easily been one of those books, or it could have been amazing like when he first changed the make-up of the Avengers team in 2012.
Not knowing what to expect from this first issue was also a thrill, because deep down inside I did have the feeling that Hickman was trying the same thing with the X-Men. By the end of this issue I was not let down in the hopes that Hickman jumped into this with a plan. In fact, this idea of his was much bigger than what he did with the Avengers. The big question surrounding this run is what you could possibly do with the mutant’s place in the world that hasn’t been done already? The answer to that was jaw-dropping because someone finally thought outside of the box. Someone finally looked at all the resources that the mutants have on hand to give them the advantages that they have never tried to use to properly survive. You could easily say that creating a mutant nation has been done to death, but not on this scale. Not when their home has been actually safeguarded, when they have legitimate forms of travel, and leverage that makes them valuable to the world around them.
This could only be matched by what feels almost like a hard-reboot to most of their personalities and attitudes. Something like this only works when everyone is on the same page and knowing how to actually handle themselves in the face of adversity. There was one excellent example in this issue which almost had me applauding because we were finally seeing some of the confidence and composure that most of them should always have been able to show when dealing with those who don’t fully understand them. Even when it is other heroes, there has to be that line drawn in the sand between friend, ally, and outsider.
Of course there are some questions you still have about what led to all of this, but I think we can be patient for those answers given what has already unfolded for us in this first issue.
With a new place in the world, also comes new troubles. That much also stands out for the fact that the mutants were actually seen playing on the same level as the rest of the world. It is refreshing when they aren’t only fighting back or on the ropes. There wasn’t an actual singular big bad, but what was more important was seeing how the rest of the world was taking the rise of the mutants. Even if they weren’t mutants, this would have been a big thing knowing the kind of world we live in.
Adding to this, the artwork of Pepe Larraz and Marte Garcia was stunning. The same extends to Clayton Cowles for the unique lettering, and Tom Muller for the distinguishing designs that I spoke of above. Only one thing could have killed this for us, and that was the quality of the interior work. They did not disappoint one bit, and sometimes it’s hard to have confidence in how these stories will turn out visually. Marvel has dropped the ball with X-Men books that could have done so much better with more appealing interiors. With that said, I was blown away by the pencils from Pepe in particular. The detail he put into every character, and every setting was so engaging. I was captivated by every change of setting because there was no looking at anything the same way twice. Not when many of these homes, buildings, and bases were interwoven with parts of Krakoa. The mix of nature and metal did not clash one bit. All of it looked fairly organic as it should have been for the way they described this new ecosystem. Which brings me to Marte who gave us such a beautiful palette of colors. His method of blending colors and meshing them together simply breathed life into every page. Everything natural popped fantastical popped because there was no limit to the range of colors he could use overall.
If you were hesitant about the direction of the X-Books like me? Then House of X #1 might begin to ease your worries. It may be too soon to drop your guard until Powers of X comes out next week, but for now this feels like the start of something memorable in the X-Men’s history. Without a doubt this is one of the strongest debuts for an X-Men book next to X-Men: Red. This is the time to genuinely fight the urges that past writers fell prey to. We need new, but we also need what makes the X-Men who they are at the core. This is them fighting the kind of fight that they should have long ago.