We here at the Revolution continue to praise Hickman’s work on House of X and Powers of X. This story has been nothing short of brilliant. I am more than confident that Powers of X #2 is going to be another high-quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: R.B. Silva
Inks: R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto
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 Xº: X-Men Year One. We see Moira and Professor X arriving at Island M. Magneto asks why Xavier has come to his land. Magneto says that he and Xavier have plans and dreams that differ too much from each other.
Xavier asks what if both he and Magneto were wrong. That both of their dreams are too small. Moira says that she can give Magneto the truth that is profound and life-changing. Moira asks who determines who is truly good and who is truly evil. Magneto replies that he does.
Xavier asks Magneto to open his mind to him so that they can figure out together what to do about tomorrow. Magneto asks if this is another trick by Xavier to allow him to tamper with Magneto’s mind. Xavier pleads for Magneto to trust him just this once.
Magneto removes his helmet. Professor X holds Moira’s hand and then projects all of Moira’s memories of her past lives into Magneto’s mind. Magneto is stunned by all the information. Xavier says that the truth is that apart Xavier and Magneto always fail. That it is only when Xavier and Magneto are together that mutants can survive.
Magneto says he is not interested in survival. Moira agrees. Moira says that mutants need to not just survive. That mutants need to thrive and rightfully assume their place on the Earth. Magneto responds that he will check Xavier at any moment of weakness by Xavier. Xavier responds that he would expect nothing less. Xavier and Magneto shake hands.
We shift to X1: The X-Men Year Ten on Krakoa. Cyclops is meeting with Magneto and Professor X. Xavier reveals the data that Mystique stole for them. It is information about a new Mother Mold that is in orbit around the sun. The Mother Mold is a Master Mold capable of making more Master Molds. That the organization that made the Mother Mold is called Orchis. That Orchis is a group comprised of scientists from various opposition groups like S.H.I.E.L.D., A.I.M., S.W.O.R.D., H.A.M.M.E.R., and Hydra. These different groups have put aside their differences in order to deal with a common threat: mutants.
Xavier says that the X-Men cannot allow the Mother Mold to come online. Magneto says that they think that the scale and resources signal a paradigm shift in the technology. That this is where the NIMROD becomes operational.
Xavier says that Orchis must be stopped. Magneto retorts that the question remains if stopping them is something that can even be done. Cyclops asks, “Does it need doing?” Xavier responds, “Yes.” Cyclops answers, “Then it will be done.” (Bad. Ass. Moment. Hickman knows how to write Cyclops.)
We shift to X2: The X-Men Year One Hundred on Asteroid K. Apocalypse takes the drive of data from Cardinal. Apocalypse says that too much knowledge can drive a person crazy and paralyze them by choice. Not enough information can make people rush into traps and make mistakes. But, just the right amount of information can make people victorious.
We hop over to the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser. Nimrod says that the mutants stole an indexing machine and that this is disturbing. Nimrod says that he is not lying although he could lie. Nimrod says that humans think he is programmed to tell the truth. That is not the case. That Nimrod can lie just for the pleasure of it. The two human soldiers grow annoyed with Nimrod’s pontificating. Nimrod gets angry and incinerates the two humans with a laser blast.
Nimrod says that the mutants were hidden from him. However, now he can see them. We see Nimrod looking at a screen that shows the mutants. Nimrod wonders what the mutants are looking for.
We hop back to Asteroid K. Krakoa downloads the information that the mutants stole from Nimrod. Magneto says that machines archive every moment of every thing. That searching through the archive for what they want would be like searching a beach for a particular grain of sand. However, by breaking into the indexing machine they can decrypt it and then know where in the archive to look for the information that they want.
Krakoa then says that he has unlocked the indexing machine. Wolverine interjects that the problem is that Percival is dead. And Percival is who was shielding the location and existence of the mutants from Nimrod. That without Percival the mutants will have to fight their way in, then hold the humans and machines at bay while they get the information and then fight their way out. Wolverine says that it is a suicide mission. Xorn says he has never been more excited.
Apocalypse says that the mutants will survive. That they will go and take what they need and they will return. That this is a promise because he is going to lead the mutants on the mission.
We then get a two-page informational insert about Nimbus. That Nimbus was once known as Nibiru. It was a frozen gas giant beyond the Kuiper belt. That in the early thirty-first century, the Outreach project was created to convert Nibiru into a super-intellect capable of attracting and establishing a suitor-alliance with a Type III interstellar civilization.
100 of the greatest post-human scientists, scholars, and artists had their minds copied and integrated into a simply thinking machine called Nimbus. Nimbus was housed in a Nimrod shell and took a four-year journey from Earth to Nibiru.
Nimbus injected its self-replicating machines into the core of Nibiru. Nimbus’ intelligence grew until the goals of the Outreach project were archived. Nimbus achieved Worldmind status ten years after impact.
We zip forward to X3: The X-Men Year One Thousand. The Librarian asks if “it” worked. Nimrod answers that normally civilizations of their maturity only attract universal predators. This is because the special value of this solar system is in its Celestial resources and not its living culture. Their solar system is a place to be mined and not preserved.
However, they have used Nimbus to create a Worldmind in order to show what they are capable of. Nimrod says that it seems they have snared a giant.
Suddenly, a Phalanx appears on Nimbus. The Phalanx says that it ate their Worldmind. However, the Phalanx heard their message. The Phalanx asks what do they seek. The Librarian replies, “Ascension.”
We then get a two-page informational insert about the Types of Societies (Planetary) and the Types of Societies (Galactic). And we get a one-page infographic of these types of societies.
First the planetary types of societies. The Species Intelligence (SI) of 1 is representative of the thinking power of a single mature being possessing an average intellectual ability. So, an SI society is called Machine. It is a society with a single machine mind that is a direct copy of an existing sentient mind.
An S2 society is Hive. This is a society of collective individual machines with the unified thinking power of up to ten machines. Anything more than ten machines fractures and deteriorates the collective as the repressed individuality overwhelms the Hive.
An S3 society is an Intelligence. This is a thinking machine created to be an amalgam of at least 100 machines and up to 10,000 machines acting in harmony toward a collective goal. The Kree Supreme Intelligence is an example of this.
Next is the galactic types of societies. The first is an SI: 10,000 which is a Technarch. This is an artificial collective intelligence manufactured by a Phalanx. Each Technarch believes it is the only Technarch in existence. Technarch’s are invisible to each other. Technarch’s do not know that they were manufactured to serve the Phalanx cause.
The Technarch is designed to classify, order, and assimilate other existing societies. The removal/repurposing of societies is a Technarch’s sole purpose. A Technarch usually takes the form of a world or another planetary object or formation. This is called a Kvch. Each Kvch is controlled by an alpha intelligence called a Magus.
Next is an SI: 100,000. This is a Worldmind. It is usually a planet that has been wholly converted into a singular intellect. They possess godlike intelligence. On the Kardashev scale, a Worldmind represents a Type II civilization.
Next is an S1: 1,000,000. This is a Phalanx. This is an intellect that has total control of a host galaxy. Phalanx exist only to expand its own intelligence by consuming lesser societies and to control the energy needed for its expansion. On a Kardashev scale, a Phalanx is a Type III civilization.
An Ascension is when the Phalanx encounters a society that is worth consuming by adding to its intelligence needs. If a society is not worth an Ascension then the Phalanx will seed that society with a Techno-Organic virus that will produce a Babel Spire. The Babel Spire will summon a Technarch to remove/repurpose that social waste from the universe. End of issue.
The Good: Powers of X #2 is another brilliant read. Jonathan Hickman is operating at a ridiculously high level. I am completely blown away by the phenomenal attention to detail that Hickman is bringing to the X-Men franchise with House of X and Powers of X.
Powers of X #2 presents the reader with another amazingly intricate story that is crammed full of content. Hickman is not simply performing world-building with Powers of X #2. No. Hickman has gone to another level altogether and is now delivering incredible universe building. The sheer scale of Hickman’s story is awe-inspiring. Hickman is not leaving a single corner of the X-Men franchise untouched.
It continues to amaze how Hickman is able to take the X-Men’s messy and fractured continuity and massage it into a cohesive and logical continuity. This is incredibly difficult work. But, this is work that is going to pay dividends for years to come. Hickman is going to succeed in making the X-Men a franchise that is accessible for new fans and still loved by long-time fans. This is nearly impossible to pull off. But, it seems that Hickman is indeed doing the impossible.
Hickman stuffs Powers of X #2 full of high concepts and wild ideas. The result is a Science Fiction story that is engrossing and fascinating. Hickman is able to capture the reader’s undivided attention and pull them deep into the story. I love getting lost in this universe that Hickman has created.
Powers of X #2 lays out the new X-Men continuity in a bit more clear fashion while still keeping several mysteries going. House of X #2 unveiled Moira’s ten past lives. We know that each time Moira dies then the X-Men’s continuity gets rebooted and begins all over again with Moira’s rebirth. It seems that House of X and Powers of X are taking place in Moira’s Live Eleven. Year Ten is shown in the infographic in House of X #2. Year Ten has House of X starting in Year 52 of Moira’s life. This does not fit with the current story that places the House of X occurring just ten years after Moira meets with Xavier and Magneto and gets them to work together. Therefore, I am beginning to think that our current story is actually taking place in Moira’s Life Eleven.
Hickman unveils to the reader in Powers of X #2 that in Year One Moira reveals her past lives to both Professor X and to Magneto. The result is that Moira manages to achieve what was thought to be impossible: Getting Professor X and Magneto to work together from the start. This is a fairly big change to the X-Men’s continuity. Much of the X-Men’s continuity is based on the Xavier and Magneto feud that filtered down into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and X-Men feud. It appears that in Life Eleven, Moira has managed to avoid the Xavier and Magneto long-running feud that defined the X-Men franchise for so long. This is a massive retcon that has huge implications on the X-Men’s franchise.
I found seeing Magneto following Professor X so loyally in House of X #1 so completely discordant and counter to the Magneto that we all know and love. It was jarring to see Magneto almost subservient to Xavier. However, Hickman is able to use the Year One plotline to logically explain why Magneto would work with Xavier and end of following him. Moira’s past lives and the myriad of failures of Magneto time and time again are a logical reason why Magneto would agree to work with Xavier. This is an excellent explanation that makes sense and is consistent with Magneto’s character. Hickman does a masterful job using the Year One plot-line to reframe Xavier and Magneto’s relationship in a manner that is consistent with both men.
The character work on both Xavier and Magneto was well done. Hickman displays a good feel for the personalities of both men. Hickman also creates some solid chemistry between the two old friends as well.
Year Ten of what seems to be Moira’s Life Eleven is our present-day X-Men. The present-day X-Men makes even more sense as we learn more about the Year One plot-line with Moira, Xavier, and Magneto. Xavier’s plan to use Krakoa as a new nation for mutants only and to have every mutant hero and villain all working under the banner of the X-Men now makes much more sense. The 1970’s cult leader styled Xavier with his loyal general in Magneto also make more sense. Xavier’s entire plan for mutants to inherit the Earth and to become the dominant species also makes so much more sense now that we have learned more about Moira’s past lives.
The reader was initially confused by this seemingly sudden change in Xavier’s world view and plans in House of X #1. However, Hickman has been able to use Moira’s past lives and the Year One plotline between Moira, Xavier, and Magneto to make Year Ten seem perfectly logical and natural. Year Ten is fitting into place more and more with each issue. It is a testament to Hickman’s incredible writing to watch the various plotlines slide into place in such a meticulous and logical fashion.
Hickman delivered more information to the reader about Orchis’ plans in Powers of X #2. The concept of a Mother Mold is fantastic. A massive Master Mold that makes more Master Molds? Absolutely brilliant. This is what I expect from Hickman. I continue to be interested in Orchis. This is a fascinating organization. The high concept science fiction technology that Hickman is rolling out with Orchis is equally fascinating. I love how Hickman gets excited to dig into the details behind the technology that is employed in these stories. This is part of what makes the story such an immersive read.
Hickman also did an excellent job with Cyclops’ character in the Year Ten scene. I have always liked Scott’s character, but the poor guy has been so horribly mismanaged for years. It got to the point where I did not even recognize Scott’s character much less like the character. Well, Hickman seems to have gotten the message and is returning Cyclops back to his Alpha male form. Scott is properly heroic and fearless. This is what we have been missing with Scott Summers. Hickman definitely gave Scott some badass dialogue that emphasized Scott’s grit, determination, and fearlessness that makes him a natural leader and a good soldier.
Hickman also does a good job with the Year One Hundred plotline. Hickman finally reveals what information the mutants stole from Nimrod the Lesser. Again, Hickman does an unparalleled job explaining the science fiction behind the Man-Machine Supremacy. I like that the mutants stole the machine indexer in order to then find the information that they desire within the vast archive of the machines. It is this type of detail and logic that makes Hickman’s stories such a pleasure to read.
Hickman also does a great job writing both Apocalypse and Nimrod the Lesser. Hickman’s Apocalypse is properly imposing. Apocalypse’s fanaticism is on full display as Hickman makes a point of having Apocalypse say that he would sacrifice any of his mutants in order to gain the information that they need to defeat the Man-Machine Supremacy. Apocalypse’s ego was then emphasized as he guaranteed that the mutants would succeed in their raid on the Man-Machine Supremacy since he would be leading the raid himself. All in all, Hickman did a fine job with Apocalypse’s character.
Hickman continues to shine with his handling of Nimrod the Lesser’s character. This is such a fantastic character and easily the breakout star of Hickman’s story up to this point. I cannot get enough of Nimrod the Lesser. Nimrod the Lesser combines some truly funny lines along with a legitimately evil personality that can be quite brutal. Hickman is able to make Nimrod the Lesser a rather complex character that has plenty of charisma. Nimrod the Lesser is the type of villain that is fun to read.
I also enjoyed how Hickman used the scene with Nimrod the Lesser and the two human soldiers to convey to the reader that things are not all rosy in the Man-Machine Supremacy. Even though humans created the machines and humans are supposed to be in control of the machines that is clearly not the case. Hickman makes a point of Nimrod the Lesser saying that he can lie just for the pleasure if he desires so. That this does not run counter of his programming. Then Hickman has Nimrod the Lesser violate Asimov’s laws of robotics by not following orders of humans and by killing humans. Hickman makes it clear that even though the name is “Man-Machine Supremacy” that it really is just the Machine Supremacy and Mankind is simply along for the ride.
The Year One Thousand really heats up with Powers of X #2. This plotline is where Hickman is delivering his most hight concept ideas. The Year One Thousand plot-line is the type of story that I would only expect from Hickman or Morrison. It is that damn good. I have no idea where Hickman is going with this Year One Thousand plot-line, but I am absolutely fascinated by it. All of the wild Sci-Fi concepts are what you would expect from Jack Kirby, but updated for a more modern audience. I am excited to see where Hickman goes with the Phalanx and the Ascension of Nimbus.
Hickman definitely serves up a ton more information about this One Thousand year plot-line. We learn that Nimrod and the Librarian are not on Earth. That they are on Nimbus. I loved Hickman’s backstory for Nimbus. That is such detailed world-building.
The reader also learns that Nimrod appears to have evolved past the murderous mutant-hunting robot that we know and love in the Year One Hundred plot-line. This lends support to Hickman’s position that A.I. can learn and evolve far past their original programming and purpose. This is an interesting take on Nimrod and unique and original use for the character.
We also learn about the three different planetary societies and three different galactic societies. I found all of this new information absolutely fantastic. Again, the amount of detail that Hickman delivers is incredible. The richness and depth of this information is what makes Hickman’s world-building talents so unique and special. This is an excellent example of the amount of texture and fullness that Hickman is able to give to the settings of his stories.
Overall, Powers of X #2 is incredibly plotted. The intricate plotting shows the phenomenal amount of hard work and attention to detail that Hickman has put into crafting this story. It is simply a level of writing that is not seen that often in comics. I also appreciate the strong internal logic to Hickman’s story. Everything fits together in an intelligent and organic manner.
I am also enjoying Hickman’s theme of inevitableness that is running through this entire story including all of the different timelines. There is the inevitableness of technology whether in the form of the Mother Mold, A.I., or Nimrod. There is the inevitableness of the man versus mutant conflict. There is the inevitableness of the evolution of the different types of planetary and galactic societies. All of this creates a feeling of hopelessness that our heroes will never be able to achieve their goals.
Hickman continues to do a masterful job of using the informational inserts and infographics in order to explain a scene that the reader has just read. I love this literary tool far more than the exposition dump via pages of talking heads. This is an innovative approach to delivering large amounts of dense information to the reader in an enjoyable and seamless fashion as possible.
R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto combine to deliver dependable artwork. At no point is the reader blown away by the art. The strength of Powers of X $2 is certainly not the artwork. The strength of this title is Hickman’s superlative writing. Having said that, Silva gets the job done and does not get in the way of the story.
The Bad: There is no getting around it. Powers of X #2 moves at a slow pace. This may turn off readers who prefer quickly-paced stories. I am fine with Hickman’s slow pace. It gives me time to properly digest the incredibly detailed and dense stories that are chock full of content. Also, there is next to no action at all in Powers of X #2. It is fair to make readers aware of these facts since some readers may find that the slow pace and lack of action combine to make Powers of X #2 a boring issue.
There are times when Silva appears to have gone to the Rob Liefeld school of art. Silva rarely shows characters from the knees down. The reason is that Silva appears to not be able to draw the human body from the knees down. The few times when we do get a full-body shot the results are less than desirable.
There is one panel where Silva gives Moira elephant legs. Her legs are the same width from the thighs to what are supposed to be feet. Except that her feet look like elephant feet. The result is that Moira looks like she just has two stumps for legs. Then we have a panel with Cyclops where it appears that Silva ran out of energy by the time that he got to Cyclops’ knees and simply slapped some withered lower leg appendages to Cyclops’ body.
Overall: Powers of X #2 offers the reader a rich and ornate story. Hickman continues to make his claim that he is the comic book industry’s greatest world builder. The depth and complexity to Powers of X #2 is a testament to Hickman’s hard work and dedication. This title continues to be a comic book that is well worth the cover price.
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