The future of the X-Men franchise was laid over the course of twelve issues split evenly between House of X and Powers of X. In writing both comic books Jonathan Hickman set the course for everything X-Men fans will need to know about the franchise moving forward. As Rokk wrote in his reviews for all the issues of House of X and Powers of X, Hickman was very successful in creating excitement for the direction the X-Men will take from here. Now as we head into a new, exciting future for the X-Men I wanted to take a look at what made Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X such a success.
EMBRACING X-MEN’S COMPLICATED HISTORY
Unlike most other comic book franchises, any creative team tackling the X-Men had to take into account all the history that comes with franchise. Even when the X-Men would get fresh starts with new writers, like Grant Morrison, Ed Brubaker and Brian Bendis, they all still had to heavily take into account the past of all the X-Men characters. For better or worse every single X-Men had some sort of rich history that progressed them in unintentionally complicated futures.
Rather than ignoring all of that complicated history Jonathan Hickman embraced it and made every single future still be in continuity in some way. He did this by the unexpected way he developed Moira MacTaggert’s character, more on her a bit later. Embracing all the complicated character histories and alternate futures the X-Men have been through made House of X and Powers of X comics X-Men fans can appreciate.
As an X-Men fan we have come to not only accept but have a love-hate relationship with the X-Men history. By taking everything about the X-Men into account Hickman was able to develop a new continuity for the franchise that took everything that took place before into account. Not only is everything from Days of Future Past to the “No More Mutants” direction written as still taking place, every single X-Men story plays a key role into the present of the franchise. Every iconic to small story frames why we are at a place where the X-Men now operate from the mutant country on Krakoa with Charles Xavier and Magneto leading a new Quiet Council to guide their future.
CREATING X-MEN UNIVERSE BIBLE
A big part of what helped flesh out the new continuity for the X-Men that Hickman crafted was the various informational pages that were inserted in each issue. These informational pages ranged from creating language used by mutants for different types of designations and defining the general rules of the mutants. Each page once placed together creates a bible of sorts that outlines everything people will need to know about the X-Men. Marvel could easily publish all these detailed informational pages into one single book that fans can buy.
Some of the fascinating tidbits that these informational pages provided was defining who can be an Omega Level Mutant. The Omega Level classification for mutants had become muddled due to all the history the X-Men have. Hickman makes it clear what the definition of an Omega Level Mutant in House of X #1. In that definition we learn that it is “A mutant whose dominant power is deemed to register — or reach — an undefinable upper limit of that power’s specific classification.” With that definition in place we get a list of known Omega Level Mutants that include some new members to that classification like Storm and Magneto.
But probably the most important of these informational pages was the change made to the Cerebro that Professor Charles Xavier now uses. The new version of Cerebro is still being used to track down new and potential mutants across the world. But now that is just a benefit of the real function of Cerebro, which now is able to take an imprint of every mutant the user finds.
In a way the Cerebro user now is able to save each mutants soul in an infinite storage database that Charles Xavier recruited Forge to create. And with the help of Hope Summers, Goldballs, Proteus, Elixir, and Tempus, who have now been called “The Resurrection Five,” mutants that die can be brought back to life.
As of now Charles Xavier is the only one to use Cerebro in this way. But we know from covers for a future X-Factor issue that Jean Grey will also be using the new version of Cerebro at some point. So there is a question of if Charles is the only one to use Cerebro in this way in conjunction with the Resurrection Five or if powerful psychics like Jean and Emma Frost will have to do so in the future. Whatever may happen, this change to Cerebro has certainly changed the game when it comes to missions the X-Men and their allies go on from this point forward.
MAKING MOIRA MACTAGGERT MARVEL UNIVERSE’S MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTER
After being a supporting character in the X-Men franchise for so long Moira MacTaggert was elevated to being quite possibly the most import character in the Marvel Universe. As explained in House of X #2, Moira is now a mutant who has the power of reincarnation. That means that whenever Moira dies she is born again to her parents and potentially living out the same life. If that wasn’t a twist enough Hickman added the wrinkle that Moira would be reborn with the knowledge of every life she has lived.
That set the stage for Hickman to explain the extremely important role that Moira ends up playing throughout key X-Men timelines. In each life that she lives she brings more knowledge that causes the X-Men history to go down differently each time due to the actions she decides to take up until her death and starting the cycle over again.
This was a very interesting way to explain how the various X-Men timelines are still in-continuity in some way. For all that Moira did possibly the most intriguing thing that ends up happening is how in the present. In Powers of X #6 Charles Xavier and Magneto seem to have come to the conclusion they are in charge together, pushing Moira away from their own inner circle.
Given her reaction to this action by Xavier and Magneto we could possibly see Moira become an unknown X Factor in the future of the X-Men. With all the lives she has lived and how the present was guided by her Moira won’t be happy just being pushed to the side. It puts into question if maybe Moira will start working with the rest of the Marvel Universe characters since up to now all her lives have involved the mutants. Whatever she does next, Hickman has set up Moira to still be one of the major X-Men characters to watch moving forward.
CHARLES XAVIER AND MAGNETO MERGED IDEOLOGIES
As we’ve seen play out for over fifty years Charles Xavier and Magneto have been at odds with each other due to their views on the mutants place in the world. Though they’ve united at various points in the X-Men’s history that has never lasted very long. They always end up going back to opposing sides. Which has extended to all the proteges that Xavier and Magneto have taken on with the X-Men and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, respectively.
Now all that is different, as thanks to Moira we see that Xavier and Magneto are approaching the mutants future from a united front. All of the fighting that has been done is out the window. Now they have worked together to shape the future of the mutants as a whole. This also has caused Xavier and Magneto to each adopt traits from one another, though they still each maintain their different way of talking with others.
That said, the Powers of X #6 ending seems to imply that Magneto’s ideology has become the dominant approach for the mutants. In the ending Xavier showed an aggressive stance to those who would possibly stand against the X-Men and their mutant allies. That way of thinking leads to a lot of questions as to how sustainable this foundation Xavier and Magneto created really is.
While there is a lot of hope in Xavier and Magneto’s look when they watch the fireworks on Krakoa light up the night sky the foundation does not feel sturdy. There are so many players at play from the members of the Quiet Council to the Krakoa residents there are hints everywhere that things can fall apart for Xavier and Magneto. Those hints creates some intrigue into how each X-Men character handles their current status quo.
MUTANT LEADERS ESTABLISH THE QUIET COUNCIL OF KRAKOA
While Charles Xavier, Magneto and Moira MacTaggert worked to lay the groundwork for the current X-Men continuity they aren’t the only leaders of the mutants. In House of X #6 Hickman establishes the group known as The Quiet Council of Krakoa. This Quiet Council is not only made up of X-Men but also previously known villains of the team. With this Quiet Council the mutants have an established leadership pool who make the decisions for the directions mutants should take.
Part of that leadership also seems to be that the Quiet Council also levies punishment for those who break the laws established by this group for mutants to follow. We see that with how the Quiet Council discuss what punishment Sabertooth should get after he killed a human. The set punishment gets an extended discussion that ends with everyone coming to a consensus on Sabertooth’s final punishment.
That is all very intriguing because while we see how the Quiet Council deal with mutant problems together not everything looks to be running as smoothly as Xavier and Magneto proceive. We see several hints at how members like Emma Frost, Apocalypse and Mister Sinister are part of the Quiet Council out of their own self-interest. That self-interest puts to question what will happen in future stories where there isn’t a consensus for the future direction of the mutants. With each Quiet Council members playing key roles in one or more of the upcoming X-Men comics any problem within the group will lead to serious ramifications for the mutants future.
X-MEN’S PLACE IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE LEFT UNKNOWN
In House of X #1 one of the standout scenes involved Cyclops meeting with the Fantastic Four after an attack from Sabertooth was stopped. This scene established the fact that the X-Men don’t have a strong relationship with the rest of the superhero community. From the way the conversation went between Cyclops and Fantastic Four it seemed as though the X-Men’s standing in the Marvel Universe is on shaky grounds.
That standing within the Marvel Universe was more or less confirmed in House of X #6 with Charles Xavier sending out a message to the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, world governments, villain organization and other agencies that the time for mutants is now. This message quickly goes from an announcement to a warning from Xavier.
By having Xavier go about doing things in this way Hickman opens up the potential for a future where we will see a X-Men vs Avengers or X-Men vs Fantastic Four take place. While we’ve seen that done before, this time it will be completely different as the mutants, as presently constituted, have been established as part of the country created for them on Krakoa. Having that place in the world creates more political intrigue into how the X-Men interact with their superhero contemporaries.
One thing that we didn’t see either House of X or Powers of X delve into was the X-Men’s place in the Marvel Universe outside of Earth. There were hints, like Forge using Shi’ar tech in creating the current version of Cerebro, that at least Xavier has been involved in galactic matters. These little details by Hickman helped in creating more questions, leading to greater story possibilities down the line. Its those possibilities on Earth and beyond that added to what made House of X and Powers of X such an intricate read.
NEW THREATS TO DISRUPT MUTANTS ERA OF PEACE
With Charles Xavier and Magneto teaming up from the beginning Hickman elevated the level of threat humans pose to mutants. We saw that in the suicide mission that Cyclops leads an elite X-Men team on to stop the latest Sentinel creation by human scientist the goverment commissioned. Seeing how the X-Men had to go on a literal suicide mission was intense and set up the stakes that the characters in this franchise will now undertake.
While that suicide mission was intense it’ll be interesting to see how Hickman and other X-Men writers use Cerebro’s resurrection ability moving forward. Having that deus ex machina available to resurrect any mutant Xavier wants takes some of the concern away from how dangerous different missions are. It will likely be something that Hickman and others will have to address at some point since Cerebro is a big cheat code available to the X-Men.
All that said, there are still questions as to what will appear to balance out the new level of power mutants have under the Quiet Council’s rule. Because we know there is always an opposite force that will balance out the power our heroes have. That is always part of the hero’s journey no matter how powerful a hero or group of heroes become. We know that there is the threats from the human side. But how about other mutants like Sabertooth who don’t follow the mutant country on Krakoa, are there powerful, unknown Omega Level Mutants out in the world getting ready to strike? Or is something else growing throughout the Marvel Universe that the Quiet Council don’t know about?
With all said and done House of X and Powers of X was an amazing reading experience. Going back to read it in the order that Hickman and Marvel laid out between both series is fun each time. So far I’ve read all twelve issues of House of X and Powers of X three times now. Each time going through both comics I am left even more excited for the future of the X-Men. There are so many possible directions for the franchise to go.
It’s those possibilities that make every Wave 1 title comes across as a must have to find out how the events of House of X and Powers of X affect the entire Marvel Universe. That all speaks to the incredible work Jonathan Hickman along with his art team of R.B. Silva and Pepe Larraz did to create so much excitement around the X-Men franchise.
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