Jonathan Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men franchise has been absolutely brilliant. Both House of X and Powers of X are fantastic reads. I have no doubt that Powers of X #3 will be another well written and engrossing 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 X2: The X-Men Year One Hundred. We are at the Temple of Accordance of the Church of Ascendency. The half human-half machine priest talks about how humans are inferior to machines. That humans exist to be slaves to machines. That it is better to serve in Heaven than the rule on Earth. The priest then injects a small infant with a techno-virus that turns it into a half machine-half human. This is done so that humans will know that there is something perfect trapped in their flawed human shell.
Suddenly, Magneto, Xorn, Rasputin, and Cardinal appear on the scene and attack the Church.
We then get two informational pages about the surviving Sol mutants. We see Apocalypse and his new Four Horsemen. Wolverine is War, Xorn is Death, North is Pestilence, and Krakoa/Cypher is Famine. We see Akkabah is the Mother. We see the Cylobel, Percival, Rasputin, and Cardinal serve her.
We cut to the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser. Omega tells Nimrod that the Church of the Ascendency is on fire. Nimrod says that he does not care about humans or their Church. He says that they shall let it burn. Omega says that it is being reported that it is a team of mutants that is attacking the Church. That all available Sentinels have been dispatched to the scene.
Nimrod wonders why the mutants would attack the Church. Nimrod says that mutants have long thought that there was some hope that if they freed the humans then mutants and humans could work together to defeat the machines. Omega says that there is no longer any common ground between humans and mutants and that they will never work together.
Nimrod sarcastically says that it is a wonder he can sleep at night. Omega says that they don’t all sleep. In fact, mutants say that the fact that machines do not dream is what is wrong with them. Nimrod replies that dreams are useless. That the mutants’ dream is almost as extinct as mutants themselves.
Omega says that they should investigate the attack on the Church. Nimrod says that he won’t waste his time going to see what certainly is a pointless attack by the mutants. Omega flies off and heads to the Church.
We shift back to the Church. We see Cardinal taking out some human soldiers. Cardinal says that he ate a terminal seed so that he could overcome his pacifist beliefs and engage in fighting and killing. Cardinal asks the human why he does not rebel against the machines. The human says that he does it for the Great Machine. That he does it for his god. (Cardinal should be able to relate to that.) Suddenly, Omega appears on the scene. Omega is flanked by Sentinels.
We cut to the inside of the Machine Archive. Apocalypse, Wolverine, and Krakoa enter the archive. Krakoa says that with the information that they stole earlier he now knows exactly where to look in the archive to find out when in history Nimrod came online.
We cut back to the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser. Nimrod receives a red alert about the mutants in the Machine Archive. We hop back to the Machine Archive. Krakoa says that he has the information. He downloads it into a crystal. Wolverine then sniffs the air and says that something is not right. Suddenly, there is a massive explosion and we see Nimrod entering the scene.
We slide back to the Church. Cardinal has been taken down. Xorn is lying on the ground. Rasputin kneels next to Xorn. Rasputin tells Omega to stay back or else she will remove Xorn’s mask. That Xorn has a singularity in his head and removing the mask will unleash it. Xorn says that this is the ending he has always wanted.
Omega doubts that there is a singularity in Xorn’s head. Omega asks if Rasputin knows what lies at the heart of a real black hole. Omega says that she will give Rasputin a clue: That it is where they are all headed.
Rasputin replies that she does not know what is at the heart of a black hole and that they should find out now. Rasputin lifts Xorn’s mask. Omega gasps, “No.” A massive black hole is unleashed and devours the area.
We hop back to the Machine Archive. Apocalypse hands Wolverine the crystal and tells him that Wolverine knows what to do with it. Apocalypse says that he will fight Nimrod and his robots. Krakoa then makes a gate for Wolverine to hop through. We see Apocalypse valiantly fighting all of Nimrod’s robots.
Wolverine is transported into a tomb with a sarcophagus in it. Inside of the sarcophagus is Moira. Wolverine says that it is time for Moira to wake up. Wolverine places the crystal on Moira’s chest. The crystal then transfers its information into Moira. Moira wakes up and says that she now has the information.
Moira asks Wolverine what is next. Wolverine says that Apocalypse told him that he is supposed to send Moira on her way because there is nothing left to save here. Wolverine pops his claws and says that he is sorry.
Moira says that she has what she needs and that this is okay. Also, this is what Wolverine does. Wolverine then stabs Moira with his claws and kills her. This is the end of the ninth life of Moira X.
We then get an updated version of the infographic of the ten lives of Moira X. End of issue.
The Good: Powers of X #3 was another incredible read. Jonathan Hickman is firing on all cylinders and keeps delivering wonderfully detailed and fascinating reads in House of X and Powers of X. It is such a pleasure to pick up a comic book and be confident that you are in store for a truly well-written story with each issue.
Powers of X #3 breaks from the prior issues in that this issue only focuses on one timeline. This entire issue centers around X3: The X-Men Year One Hundred. This is the timeline that is based around the Man-Machine Supremacy and mutant kind nearing extinction. This timeline also takes place during the Life Nine of Moira X. The ninth life is also one of only two lives in the infographic that we originally got in House of X #2 that did not have an end to it.
Hickman uses Powers of X #3 to continue to flesh out the setting for the X-Men Year One Hundred timeline. I already loved the setting from this timeline and found it to be quite detailed. However, Hickman knows no bounds when it comes to crafting intricately detailed settings. Therefore, Hickman performs, even more, world-building with the Year One Hundred timeline and treats the reader to plenty of new information.
The concept of the Church of Ascendency is fantastic. I love the idea of a religion built upon humans accepting their inferiority to machines and committing themselves to a life of slavery out of religious convictions. The further twist of having all humans injected with a techno-virus upon birth that makes them half-machine and half-human is pure Hickman brilliance. The idea of having a taste of what perfection could be like but still having to live with being an imperfect creation takes classic religious guilt and sinfulness to a whole new level!
This also shows the incredible talent of Hickman. There was no real “need” for Hickman to deliver such incredible world-building with the Church of Ascendancy. Most writers would have just focused on the team of mutants attacking a generic Church in order to give a distraction for the team sneaking into the Machine Archive. Most writers would have simply thought that all that matters was the diversion and the ensuing battle. Hickman, however, views this as another opportunity to add another layer of richness and depth to this world.
To be sure, Powers of X #3 is full of glorious world-building as this issue offers a dense read full of complex plot-lines and intricate detail. Hickman also continues to do a masterful job plotting this story. Powers of X #3 moves forward at a steady pace and in a logical and organic fashion. Hickman continues to peel back more layers to this story and reveal a bit more to the reader with each issue and to show how some of these different pieces all slide together.
Hickman does a great job continuing to show the reader how Nimrod has evolved far beyond his original programming. Nimrod is no longer merely independent from any human control or influence. Nimrod is also beyond being antagonistic toward his creators. We now see that Nimrod views humans as a pointless irritant that exists far below his plane of existence. Nimrod views humans like a human would view insects. Humans are simply something to be ignored as useless and antiquated.
This continued insight into the Man-Machine Superiority shows the reader that it is far less about mankind and their battle with mutants and more about the machines gaining control and dominance over the world. Again, this begins to tie the One Hundred Year timeline into the One Thousand Year timeline. We saw in Powers of X #2 that Nimrod has created a Worldmind society that has evolved far beyond mankind. Powers of X #3 shows the beginning stages of what will eventually evolve into the technology that will create the Worldmind in the Year One Thousand timeline.
Hickman also reveals that mystery surrounding the information that the mutants are desperate to find in the Machine Archive. This information is the period in time in which Nimrod came online. With this revelation, Hickman is able to tie the Year One Hundred timeline into the Year Ten timeline where our heroes are rushing to stop the Mother Mold from going online/ The reason being that Moira told Charles and Magneto that this is the point in history where Nimrod comes online.
Powers of X #3 also delivers two big bombshell moments. The first is when Rasputin removes Xorn’s mask and unleashes the singularity. This was an epic moment. Xorn is properly nihilistic right up to the end. And Rasputin? She gets some amazing last lines and gets to go out like a bad-ass. I also love Omega’s stunned reaction. It was a classic moment of the cocky and egotistical villain getting their proper comeuppance.
The second big bombshell was the stunning ending to Powers of X #3. The reader sees what is coming, but it is still an impactful moment when Wolverine kills Moira by gutting her. This scene was also important since Hickman is able to further tie the Year One Hundred timeline into the Year Ten timeline by revealing just how Moira knew when in time Nimrod came online. Hickman already revealed in House of X #2 that Moira possessed this information. However, the reader was left wondering how Moira gained this information. We now know. And what a hell of a way for her to get the information.
Apocalypse’s plan to have the information given to Moira and then for Wolverine to kill her made perfect sense. This is more logical storytelling by Hickman. It makes sense that a character like Apocalypse would come up with this plan. It makes sense that Wolverine would be the X-Man to carry out this plan. And it makes sense that Moira should die since this timeline was already lost and Moira would be able to be reborn and armed with this critical information in order to stop the creation of Nimrod. This is an excellent use of Moira’s powers to show how she uses each life to gain even more critical information in order to win the war against the Man-Machine Supremacy.
With each issue, Hickman continues to fill in the blanks between the Year One, Year Ten, Year One Hundred, and Year One Thousand timelines and create connective tissue between the timelines. It is satisfying to see how these detailed timelines are all connecting to each other in such an organic and logical fashion.
Hickman also serves up some great character work in Powers of X #3. Yes, the heroes are a bit bland. However, we all know that truly excellent stories rely on the quality of the villains and not the heroes. And Powers of X #3 is blessed with two excellent villains in Nimrod and Omega. These two characters are the stars of Powers of X #3.
I continue to adore Hickman’s Nimrod. What is so impressive is that Hickman is able to give Nimrod a fantastic sense of humor, but never have the humor contradict Nimrod’s character. The humor never feels inconsistent with Nimrod’s personality. Nor does the humor ever feel forced and awkward. Hickman balances this great sense of humor with a real sociopathic streak in Nimrod’s personality. Nimrod is violent and selfish. There is no doubt that he is a villain.
Omega is a great character, as well. Though Omega does not rise to the incredible level of Nimrod’s character, she is still a wonderful villain. While Nimrod is the type of villain that the reader will find charismatic and secretly root for, at times, that is not the case with Omega. Omega is that cold and egotistical villain that the reader absolutely loves to hate and roots against. Omega is the kind of villain that the reader eagerly awaits to see her get her ass kicked.
Even though the heroes in this issue are bland, Hickman does do a nice job with Wolverine. Hickman has a good feel for Logan’s personality and absolutely nails Logan’s weariness but unwavering willingness to do what he does best. Hickman gives Wolverine the proper gravitas that his character demands.
Hickman also gave the reader a cool character moment when Cardinal, under the influence of the terminal seed, asked why a human would fight for the Machines. The human’s response that it is his belief in his god and his religion that causes him to fight for the machines is like a slap in Cardinal’s face. The human soldier has the same faith and belief in his religion that Cardinal has in his religion.
This moment highlights how religion and faith can make men do seemingly irrational acts. It was a small moment, but it showed how even in a fight scene Hickman is always looking to deliver some character work and further flesh out the setting.
Hickman also crafts some excellent dialogue all throughout Powers of X #2. The dialogue has a pleasant flow to it. The dialogue never comes across as awkward or rambling. The characters also have their own unique external voices.
Powers of X #3 does present the reader with some cool informational pages. To be sure, the reader gets far fewer informational pages than what Hickman has delivered in prior issues. However, what we got was great. I liked the two pages concerning the remaining mutants of Sol. There was no real new information of any serious substance in these pages. However, I liked seeing which roles of the Four Horseman that Wolverine, Krakoa, Xorn, and North were playing.
I particularly enjoyed the updated infographic on the ten lives of Moira X. We see Life Nine gets updated with Moira’s death. What is also interesting is that Hickman made some changes to both Life Nine and Life Ten.
In House of X #2, Life Nine ends with Year 42 with the beginning of the Apocalypse War. In Powers of X #3, we get plenty of more information with Life Nine as we get several facts added to the timeline between Year 42 and Year 123 with Moira’s death.
Life Ten also receives several changes. In Powers of X #3, the Life Ten timeline’s last marked year is Year 49 with the Genocide at Genosha. The Life Ten timeline drops the Year 50 mark where Moira fakes her death (Shi’ar golem) and Year 52 mark that mentions the House of X #2. This is an interesting deletion of information off of the Life Ten timeline. I am not sure why Hickman went in this direction.
What stays the same is that Hickman still leaves Life Ten as the only timeline that is still open-ended. It is also important to note that Life Six is still missing. I am so curious to find out what is going on with Life Six and why Hickman is keeping it a secret. This should be an excellent plot twist at some point in the future. I fully expect that Life Six is going to be a game-changer.
Powers of X #3 also serves up some quality action. In fact, this may be the most action that we have gotten up to this point. At any rate, it is nice that Hickman kept the issue lively by giving the reader some fighting.
R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto combine to make Powers of X #3 a good looking issue. Silva does an excellent job drawing Nimrod, the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser, and Omega. The scenes at the Machine Archive are also cool looking. And best of all is the final scene. I absolutely love the silhouette effect at the end of the issue which serves to make Wolverine killing Moira even more powerful.
The Bad: I have no criticisms with this issue. Again, readers who love fast-paced stories may not be thrilled with Hickman’s more measured pace.
Overall: Powers of X #3 is another absolute gem of a read. Jonathan Hickman is putting on a clinic and showing writers how you perform world-building and deliver a complex and detailed story with finely crafted plot-lines and deliver it in an intelligent and entertaining fashion. House of X and Powers of X continue to be the best comic books that Marvel is currently publishing. And it is not even close. I would highly recommend getting aboard Hickman’s X-Men train and start reading both House of X and Powers of X. These titles offer the reader such excellent value for the money.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content, visit our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and our Instagram feed. Also, catch up with all of Rokk’s other musings about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on his Twitter page.