That was one heck of a cliffhanger that this creative team left us on last month. When this mission did inevitably lead to the creation of Nimrod, it does make you wonder if this will play out naturally, or how it could with Moira returned with the information needed to stop Nimrod’s creation. The excitement in this part of the story is in not knowing at all what to expect at this point. Hickman has already proven to us that he really thought this through, and that means we have to brace ourselves for anything.
I mean, it was only in the previous issue that this mission began with Orchis blowing up the X-Men’s ship. Who was prepared for that? This guy surely was not. Even if not all of them would die in that explosion, there was no way that this was going to be one of those situations where they miraculously dodged death. It would be too easy. Especially knowing ahead of time that something about this mission was supposed to go very wrong. How Hickman approached this chapter was bold. When most of us thought of House of X/Powers of X, the last thing that came to mind was anything having to do with the X-Men going through more suffering. This was supposed to be time where they rose higher than they ever did before. Most of their enemies should have been quaking in their shoes at the very thought of challenging the mutants at this point of time. Then this part of the story hits, and suddenly we’re all throwing everything that we thought we knew about this story right out of the window. Not a bad feeling of course knowing that nothing is ever as it seems for the X-Men.
When they said Xavier’s dream turns deadly for some of his students as they fight back against the humans’ plan to eliminate them, I quickly thought “Tell us something we don’t know”. But there is a difference between reading something like that and seeing it for yourself. That is where they got us in this chapter. It was the emotional impact of it all. No matter how many times we have seen these X-Men die throughout the years, or even through the ten lives of Moira, it never gets any easier. Not when you’re a mutant putting everything on the line to fight for other’s future.
My only disappointment was not being able to see certain characters take action the way you would have looked forward to, but the reality is that this isn’t one of those stories. So, credit where it is due for the pacing and sense of urgency that went into this team racing against the clock to stop the activation of Nimrod.
Once more the art team of Pepe Larraz and Marte Garcia did an astounding job. Some of the best scenes from them are clearly the ones taking place in space. I think what really set the mood here was the outstanding color work from Garcia in particular. When it comes to stories set in space, I appreciate when there is true lighting. Space isn’t bright. If you’re not near a star, then it is cold and dark, and if you’re near the sun, that is going to be a significant source of light. I loved the way that this lighting engulfed everything and everyone, at the same time it created a lot of shadows which in turn made what unfolded seem way more dramatic. That aside, Larraz’s pencils you would recognize for capturing the emotional impact that I mentioned above. It made a big difference being able to draw these character experiencing such raw emotions and responses to the challenges they were facing on this mission. The pain was written all over their faces, the look of defeat, and even the fear from knowing the decisions they had to make in the moment.
I’m not going to lie, this issue broke me. I was ready for a lot of things to happen, especially knowing that some part of this mission was going to be a disaster. However, nothing could have prepared us for how this mission was going to play out from start to finish. It began with a bang in House of X #3, and from there it was a slow snuffing of the lights till there was nothing left. With that said, I’m still ready for some sort of twist to this, but that doesn’t change what has happened in this moment. You can’t unsee your favorite X-Men going through an experience like this.