House of X and Powers of X have been nothing short of brilliant. I do not know how much more I can praise these two titles! There is no doubt that Jonathan Hickman is delivering the best story that I have seen from Marvel Comics in a very long time. I am more than confident that House of X #5 is going to be another superlative read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in the present day. X-Men 1: X-Men Year 10. We are on Krakoa. Magneto talks to Polaris about how mankind did not take off as a species until they transformed into an agrarian culture. When they stopped being nomads and moving from place to place. That the one good thing humans taught mutants is the need for society.
Professor X and Storm then join Magneto and Polaris. We then see the Resurrection Team of five mutants enter. They are Goldballs, Proteus, Elixir, Tempus, and Hope. We see that Goldballs makes gold balls which turn out to actually be inactive biological eggs. Then Proteus uses his powers to warp reality and transform the inactive eggs into viable eggs. Elixir then uses his powers to kick-start the process of life and initialize cell relocation and husk growth. Tempus then uses her powers to temporally mature the husk to the desired age. During all of this, Hope uses her powers to enhance and synergize the other resurrection mutants’ powers to ensure the success of each resurrection.
Magneto says that creating life is delicate and almost impossible. That these five mutants separate are not transcendent. However, together, these five mutants have made mutants whole.
We then see Professor X standing in front of the eggs. The eggs burst open and out come our X-Men who were killed in House of X #4. The newly reborn X-Men reach up to Professor X. Professor X says, “To me, my X-Men.” (This scene of the X-Men being birthed from the eggs is what we saw back in House of X #1.)
Polaris asks Magneto that isn’t this “resurrection” just the physical body. That it is just a shell. Magneto tells Polaris to watch. Magneto says that everyone has misunderstood what Cerebro really was. That Professor X can locate any mutant in the world, but that eventually became a secondary feature of Cerebro. That primary function of Cerebro is copying the mind, the essence, the anima of any mutant Professor X ever found. Then, Professor X is able to put a soul back into the mutant shell. We see Professor X putting Cyclops’ soul back in him.
Professor X says that even though he can bring Scott back to life a part of Professor X dies each time any of the X-Men die. Cyclops wakes up and asks if their mission was a success. Professor X replies that Scott and his team succeeded and that they saved all of the mutants.
We see Scott, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Angel, Mystique, and Monet all standing and fully reborn. Professor X thanks all of the team members for what they did.
We then see Storm addressing all of the mutants of Krakoa. The mutant population has gathered around at the great tree where the Resurrection team brought back to life our team of X-Men. Storm then says that a miracle has happened today. This miracle was made possible by the five Resurrection mutants. Storm tells the crowd of mutants to love them. We see the crowd swarming the Resurrection team and thanking them. (This is all so….damn creepy.)
Storm says that the Resurrection team has righted the wrongs of man and defeated their greatest enemy: death. We see our newly reborn X-Men still naked and standing behind Storm. Storm asks the crowd of mutants if they see the reborn X-Men. The crowd chants “We see them. But do we know them?” (So damn creepy!!! This is fantastic!)
Storm asks Cyclops to tell her his name. She asks how she knows it is truly her brother Scott. Scott replies that he thought he was a strong leader of the X-Men until Storm showed him what strong was. Storm replies that she learned it from watching Scott. Storm kisses Scott. Storm says that Scott is her brother and she knows him. That his name is Cyclops. Storm asks the crowd what is Scott. The crowd put their fists in the air and yell, “MUTANT!”
Storm then asks Jean her name. Storm asks how does she know it is really Jean. Jean replies that she is the only “Me” that ever was. Storm hugs Jean and says that this is her sister. Storm asks the crowd what is Jean? The crows put their fists in the air and yell “MUTANT!”
Storm asks Monet her name. Storm asks how does she know it is really Monet. Storm goes to touch Monet. Monet pulls back and says, “No touching.” (Ha! Monet is the best!) Storm says that Monet is her sister and she knows her. Storm asks the crowd what is Monet? The crowd put their fists in the air and yell. “MUTANT!” (Oh, all of this is just way too delightfully bizarre and warped. Fantastic.)
We see Professor X and Magneto watching the ceremony. Magneto says that he should be happy and weeping with joy. Professor X says that he understands. That over the years mankind has killed millions of mutants. That so many remain lost. But, this is good work. Magneto says that this work must continue until all of Genosha is brought back to life. Magneto says that the humans should have killed all of the mutants when they had the chance. Professor X says nothing. (Great moment.)
Magneto says that the U.N. vote on Genosha becoming a recognized sovereign nation is tomorrow. Magneto asks if Charles is worried. Professor X says that is is not worried today. That he is filled with too much hope right now.
We see Storm finishing introducing Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Angel, and Mystique to the crowd of mutants. Storm says that it was through their deaths that a great victory was won for their people. Storm tells the mutants to see this team of X-Men for what they are: Heroes of Krakoa. We see Cyclops, Jean, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Angel, Monet, and Mystique all still naked as they walk down to the crowd of mutants. The crowd of mutants all surround them as “Jesus” sun rays come down upon them and the crowd praises them like messiahs. (Yessss. Hickman is just channeling weird 1970’s cult creepiness all over this scene.)
We then get a three-page informational insert fully explaining in great detail the Resurrection team and how the process of resurrection works. These pages also discuss how Professor X and Cerebro creates a full back-up of all the mutants on Earth. That the back-up has multiple redundancies.
These pages also talk about the scale of the resurrection process. That they can resurrect around 200 mutants a day. That at this rate it would take 300 years to resurrect everyone who died. However, the Resurrection team gets getting more and more proficient and should be able to hit a rate of 30,000 resurrections a week making a full Genosha resurrection achieved in just ten years. These pages also talk about the process of verifying a mutant’s death before a resurrection takes place.
We shift to the next day at the United Nations. We see that the U.N. voted to recognize Krakoa as a sovereign nation. Professor X speaks telepathically with Emma Frost. Professor X says that he knows the Russian ambassador was going to vote against recognizing Krakoa. That Emma used her powers to make the Russian ambassador abstain from the vote. That dominating the will of a person leaves a mark on the victim as well as a mark on the telepath doing the dominating.
Emma asks if Charles is accusing her of something. Professor X says that he just wanted Emma to know that he knows and that a grateful nation thanks her for her sacrifice. Emma says that Xavier is welcome and that he can buy her something pretty or make her a governor of a province. Professor X asks what do you buy a woman who can already buy anything that she wants. And for the second request that Professor X has something much bolder in mind for her. (Damn. I love Emma Frost. And Professor X? He just keeps getting more and more sketchy.)
We get a three-page informational insert on the U.N vote that shows the countries that voted against (or abstained in the case of Russia) recognizing Krakoa as a sovereign nation.
We zip forward to two days later on Krakoa. We see Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto standing in front of a Krakoan teleportation gate. Wolverine says that he is totally against this idea. Wolverine says that some people are beyond saving. Magneto replies that if what Wolverine says was true then neither he nor Wolverine would be here right now.
We then see Mr. Sinister and the Reavers walk through the gate and arrive in Krakoa. Next, are a bunch of other X-Men villains appearing through the gate. Lastly, we get Apocalypse walking through the gate and arriving in Krakoa.
Apocalypse talks to Krakoa and agrees that it has been too long. Doves then swarm Apocalypse and then a few land on him. Apocalypse tells Wolverine that he has known Krakoa for a long time. That Apocalypse fought a war here before there was such a thing as mutants.
Magneto says that he wants to be clear. That they will not risk losing this place because some of the assembled villains might not value what is being offered. Wolverine asks the villains if it is going to be a problem. Apocalypse says that for centuries he has waged war in the hopes of mutantdom finally asserting dominance over the world. And now the X-Men have become what Apocalypse always intended them to be. Apocalypse says that he is proud.
Magneto replies that he needs to hear the words. Apocolypse says that he acknowledges from this day forward to serve a high purpose than want or need. One people from this day forward. All of the other villains agree. Professor X says that word must be spread that Krakoa is for all mutants. Professor X shakes Apocalypse’s hand and says, “Welcome home.” More “Jesus” rays of sunshine fall down upon the two men. End of issue.
The Good: Damn. Just when you thought Hickman could not outdo himself. House of X #5 was an absolutely brilliant read. Hickman delivers another engrossing read that completely mesmerizes the reader and pulls them deep into Hickman’s incredibly immersive world that he has created for the X-Men franchise.
Hickman’s plotting remains nothing short of amazing. The way that Hickman is deftly weaving together so many detailed plot lines is stunning. House of X #5 slides together several more plot lines as the reader finally understands the mysterious scene of several X-Men being hatched out of pods that we saw back in House of X #1. Hickman’s long-range vision and meticulous plotting on House of X and Powers of X are simply on another level from what you currently get from other comic books on the market. I keep going back to the intricate structure, the phenomenal plotting, and the organic connection between the disparate plotlines that all combine to make Hickman’s story on House of X and Powers of X something truly rare and special. It just cannot be emphasized enough.
Hickman starts House of X #5 with an eight-page scene of the Resurrection team bringing back to life Scott, Jean, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Angel, Monet, and Mystique. Hickman smartly used Polaris as the stand-in for the reader who is unsure of the specifics of what is going on. This enables the reader to follow along as Polaris asks the same questions that we are thinking during this scene. Hickman effectively uses Magneto as his literary tool for Hickman to convey to the reader all the necessary information in a manner that felt natural rather than an awkward exposition dump. Also, by showing the reader that Polaris was unclear of how the entire Resurrection process works is a signal that this entire Resurrection Program is still relatively new.
This scene is fascinating to read as Hickman rolls out an incredibly creative concept of the Resurrection team. I like the five mutants that Hickman picked for this team. These are all mutants that on their own are certainly less than the sum of their parts. Again, I love that Hickman is seeking a way to creatively employ lesser-known characters rather than always focusing on the bigger name characters. Hickman has been able to construct vitally important roles for even minor X-Men characters.
The usage of the powers of each of the five mutants on the Resurrection team and how they combined to create the husks is fantastic and innovative. Then Hickman tops it all off with the creative way that Professor X is able to place the soul into the husk that completes the resurrection of a mutant. It is all so intricate and intelligent. Hickman flexes his creativity with such a unique concept that is fantastical but still retains logic and makes perfect sense. This is hard to pull off.
This Resurrection team is also a literary device that will allow Hickman to resurrect whatever X-Men characters that he so desires. Obviously, the first character that I thought about was Thunderbird. I mean, c’mon! It is time for John Proudstar to make his return. If Bucky can be brought back to life then there should be no limits on what character can be resurrected! Yeah, I know, I am the only Thunderbird fan alive. It still doesn’t change my opinion!
On a more serious note, this concept of the Resurrection team will give Hickman great flexibility to bring back as many mutants as he desires. I am curious to see which other characters get resurrected. Of course, it will also be interesting to see how long this resurrection program is kept around. I could see Hickman rebooting the X-Men at the end of House of X and Powers of X and them having this resurrection program being lost and forgotten in the process. I do not think that the resurrection program is going to be a long-running concept in the X-Men franchise going forward. But, with Hickman, you never know!
We then get the six-page scene of Storm introducing the resurrected mutants to the mutant population on Krakoa. This scene is all kinds of fantastic. Hickman gives us an incredibly sinister scene. I got a total 1970’s cult vibe from the beginning to the end of the scene. The entire “announcing” ceremony for each resurrected mutant was so delightfully creepy. The reader feels so uncomfortable while reading this scene.
What makes this six-page scene so enjoyable is Hickman’s excellent character work. Hickman successfully takes these characters that are normally heroic and gives them an eerie vibe that sets off the reader’s warning bells. Hickman does a masterful job with how he handles Storm in this scene. Storm has always been one of my all-time favorite X-Men, but Hickman gets me legitimately creeped out by Storm in this scene. Storm comes across like a crazy zealot. Every panel with her in it is unnerving. Hickman crafts some excellent dialogue for Storm that makes her come across as a fanatic.
Professor X continues to give off that creepy cult leader vibe. Hickman is definitely not giving the reader that lovable avuncular Charles Xavier that we are used to getting on the X-Men. This is not the kind-hearted and gentle soul who inspires readers. Hickman’s Charles Xavier gives the reader a serious case of the willies.
In fact, all of the mutants on Krakoa who have gathered at this ceremony come across like brainwashed cult followers. Hickman succeeds in using this crowd of mutants to give this announcing ceremony a vibe that is part radical political rally and part religious cult ceremony. The closed fists in the air while screaming “Mutants” evokes the radical political aspect of this story. Then you have the “Jesus” rays of sunlight and the masses trying to reach out and worship our naked reborn mutants that emphasize the messianic aspect of this story. All in all, this scene was just phenomenal writing by Hickman.
The three-page informational insert about the Resurrection program, the Resurrection team, and Professor X’s plan to resurrect all of the mutants killed in Genosha are simply fantastic. This is more incredible world-building that serves to give Hickman’s story so much more depth and detail. These informational inserts continue to be intelligent literary tools to delver plenty of backstory in an enjoyable fashion to the reader. I also like how Hickman always places them right after a scene that introduces new concepts and information. It allows Hickman to deliver massive amounts of information without cluttering up the scenes with large exposition dumps.
The two-page scene at the U.N. was short but sweet. Hickman delivers more fantastic character work on Professor X and Emma Frost. It is truly amazing how much incredible character work Hickman is able to pack in just two pages. This is a real testament to Hickman’s talents.
This scene emphasizes to the reader how Professor X is now willing to engage in whatever means necessary in order to achieve his plans. One of Professor X’s core beliefs has been his rule about not using his powers to impose his will on humans. Seeing Professor X happily thank Emma for doing what he has always preached against doing was flat out chilling. Up to this point, Hickman’s Xavier certainly has been creepy. However, it was in this scene that Professor X does a full heel turn by breaking one of his long-standing rules. By this point, there is little doubt in the reader’s mind that Hickman’s Xavier is more villain than hero.
The pairing of Professor X and Emma in this scene also helped to get highlight the change in Xavier’s personality. Emma and Professor X have long had opposite views on how to use their powers. Hickman having Professor X endorse Emma’s actions and even thank her underscores how Professor X is not the man that we used to know.
Speaking of Emma Frost, Hickman also does a fantastic job with her character. I love Emma’s character and Hickman is demonstrating that he has an excellent feel for Emma’s personality. Hickman treats the reader to a deliciously immoral Emma Frost. Emma is a bad girl and she knows it. Emma has no qualms doing whatever she thinks is necessary in order to ensure that Krakoa gets recognized as a sovereign nation. This scene is so in keeping with Emma’s character. And Emma’s bad girl playfulness at the very end of this scene was simply the icing on the cake.
The three-page informational insert on the Mutant Diplomacy was more excellent world-building. Personally, I love maps and I love it when writers give us maps in their comic books. They look cool and help to frame the world that houses the writer’s story.
Hickman ends House of X #5 in style with a strong five-page scene with our heroes inviting various mutant villains to live in the new sovereign nation of Krakoa. Up to this moment, the reader has had questions about whether Hickman’s X-Men would be viewed as heroes or villains by the 616 Universe’s superheroes. Well, with this scene, Hickman has our X-Men appear more like the villains than they have at any other point in this story.
This is then strongly punctuated with the final page of House of X #5. Hickman ends this issue on a single page splash shot of one of the X-Men’s biggest villains in Apocalypse shaking hands with Professor X as “Jesus” rays of sunshine shine down upon them. It is a dramatic moment that punches the reader square in the chest. At this point, it feels like Professor X’s journey to being a full-blown villain is complete with this ending.
Hickman did a nice job having Magneto and Wolverine on hand for the welcoming of all of these various X-Men villains to Krakoa. Magneto and Wolverine serve as examples of villains who have reformed and been accepted as X-Men. Both men have killed many, yet have been given new life with the X-Men. This was Hickman doing his best to make the reader feel conflicted about this scene. The reader will be stuck trying to decide if welcoming in all of these villains makes the X-Men villains or if these villains deserve the same chance that Magneto and Wolverine received long ago.
It is also possible that bringing so many snakes into their den will lay the foundation for the fall of Krakoa and the ruin of Professor X’s plans. Hickman is putting so much into play with the acceptance of all of these villains as new members of the sovereign nation of Krakoa.
I did appreciate the nice character work with Apocalypse in this scene. I loved the callback to Powers of X #4 with Apocalypse communicating with his old friend Krakoa. This is just another example of Hickman’s excellent plotting with how he links together various plot lines. The fact that we learned in Powers of X #4 that Apocalypse fought in a war to save Krakoa made this scene that much more powerful and poignant. I also loved how Hickman had doves landing on Apocalypse after his arrival. It was a neat way to show how Krakoa was welcoming his old friend back.
House of X #5 also treats the reader to plenty of nice artwork. Pepe Larraz whips up plenty of dramatic-looking splash shots in this issue. In fact, Larraz’s art helps to carry the story and make it more impactful on the reader. Larraz also does a nice job with the facial expressions of the characters. This helps to inject more life into the story. I also enjoyed Larraz’s panel layouts in House of X #5. The layouts are creative and vary from page to page.
The Bad: I have no criticisms of House of X #5.
Overall: House of X #5 is another amazing read. Hickman is driving this story toward what is sure to be a spectacular ending. I have not been this excited about a Marvel comic book in years. I have not been this excited about an X-Men comic in decades. House of X #5 is worth every penny of the cover price. If you love superhero comic books then you need to be reading Hickman’s X-Men.
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