We here at The Revolution have been praising every single issue of Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X. These two titles are proof that Marvel should be thanking the heavens that Hickman decided to come back to them and give them a level of writing talent that is simply far superior to their current collection of writers. I am confident that Hickman will deliver another excellent read with Powers of X #5. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: R.B. Silva
Colors: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in XO: The X-Men: Year One. We see Professor X meeting with Forge. (Forge is so fabulous. Dude is rocking a sweet porn ‘stache, a long ponytail, and a Rambo style long headband tied around his head like it was 1986. I fucking love it!) Professor X asks Forge if Forge could build him a Cerebro that would be able to make backups of every mutant on Earth. Professor X also wants Forge to make redundant back-ups at five different locations.
Forge replies that to carry out Xavier’s plan that Xavier would have to have access to unlimited power and unlimited storage. Forge says that no such things exist on Earth. Professor X reveals that he has a Shi’ar antimatter engine that can power this new Cerebro. Professor X also has Shi’ar logic diamonds for the unlimited storage necessary for the new Cerebro. Professor X then asks that the question is not can Forge build this new Cerebro but will Forge build this new Cerebro. Forge then smiles.
We get a one-page informational insert on Cerebro Version 7.0. That once a week Professor X copies the latest version of every mutant mind to multiple “cradles” located in different locations across the world. That once a year, Professor X makes a “hard back-up” of every mutant on Earth. Unlike the weekly back-ups, this is not a partial backup, but a “fresh copy” of the whole mind.
It is noted that the husk of a mutant must match the soul that is being uploaded into the husk in order for the process of reincarnation to work properly. Also, it is possible for a telepath to replace their now mind with a previous version. That Professor X has done this twice.
We then get the five locations of the various cradles where the backups are stored. They are located at House of X, Island M, Summer House, The Pointe, and Moira’s No-Place.
We hop over to X1: The X-Men. Year Ten. Emma is at the Louvre. There is a huge crowd in the room where the Winged Victory sculpture is located. Emma uses her telepathic powers to command all of the people in the room to leave so she may enjoy the sculpture by herself. (Best. Use. Of. A. Super. Power. I love Emma.)
Professor X and Magneto then arrive on the scene. Professor X tells Emma about his plan to create a mutant nation on the island of Krakoa. Professor X says that he will be making super drugs from the flowers on Krakoa and give them to nations who agree to vote for the creation of a mutant country on Krakoa. Magneto says that soon they will have millions of mutants living in Krakoa.
At first, Emma is unwilling to join in on another plan for a mutant island. So, we cut to Krakoa with Professor X and Magneto showing Emma the amazing power of Krakoa’s biotechnology. Emma agrees to join Professor X and Magneto. She asks them what they need from her.
Professor X says that he can make the drugs on Krakoa, but that he needs a corporation with the existing infrastructure to distribute the new drugs. That corporation would be Emma’s Hellfire Corporation. Magneto offers a twenty-year deal to Emma for the Hellfire Corporation’s services. Emma demands a better offer. Magneto then offers a fifty-year exclusive contract with the Hellfire Corporation as the sole distributor of the Krakoan drugs.
Professor X then offers Emma two seats on the new Counsel of 12 that will run the new mutant nation of Krakoa. Emma asks why Charles is offering her two seats instead of one. Professor X responds that he needs Emma to bring Sebastian Shaw back to the Hellfire Corporation. (Oh, fuck yeah! I love the Black King!)
Professor X says that Emma is the public face of the Hellfire Club and is the consummate politician and perfect to deal with the countries who have officially recognized the mutant nation of Krakoa. However, they need Shaw to run the black-book operations of the Hellfire Corporation selling drugs to countries who do not officially recognize the nation of Krakoa. And Shaw will be in charge of getting the mutants out of those countries, too.
Emma agrees to the offers from Charles and Magneto. However, Emma says that she will need three seats on the Council of 12. (Hmmm, please let that third seat be for Selene! Nobody is better than the Black Queen. Not even Emma.)
We then get a two-page informational insert on the Quiet Council of Krakoa. This is the twelve-person ruling body of Krakoa. Autumn is comprised of Professor X, Magneto, and a mystery person. Winter is comprised of three mystery people. Spring is comprised of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, and a mystery person. Summer is comprised of three mystery people. Then you have Krakoa which is comprised of Cypher and Krakoa.
We then shift to Professor X reaching out to all of the mutant villains in the world and offering them a home in the new mutant nation of Krakoa. We then see Professor X’s mental apparition appearing in front of Namor. Professor X tells Namor to come home to Krakoa. Namor replies that Professor X has finally realized that mutants are not humans. And that humans will forever hate mutants because mutants are superior. Namor then asks Professor X if Namor looks like someone who has just now realized that he is much better than everyone else? Namor then says that Professor X still does not truly believe that Professor X is superior to everyone else. Namor tells Professor X, “Go away, little man. And don’t come back until you really mean it.” (Hell. Yeah. That is how you write Namor!)
We zip forward to X3: The X-Men. Year One Thousand. We see the Elder asking the Phalanx for their decision about the Elder’s planet. The Phalanx then construct a humanoid body that approaches the Elder and kisses his forehead and then completely consumes the Elder. The Phalanx says that they have accepted the Elder’s offer.
We cut to later with Nimrod talking to the Librarian. The Librarian asks why the Phalanx destroyed the Elder if they agreed that their planet was worthy of being a part of the Phalanx. Nimrod answers that the Phalanx operates much like Nimrod but on a higher and more advanced scale. That the Phalanx is a collection of small self-improving and self-replicating machines. However, that is not the case for the Phalanx’s masters.
The masters are likely machines comprised of universal particles like electrons, protons, leptons, and kirbons. That the question is how dense they are. That if they are dense enough they could collapse space and time around them and become singularities. This is part of the Titan theory. That at the heart of every black hole there is actually a super-massive machine brain. Each one containing the collective intelligence of a society so advanced that it collapsed on itself.
Nimrod says that it may be even greater than that. Nimrod says that a black hole is a wormhole. A bridge from one singularity to the next. That it is possible that each black hole is not a seperate machine, but all one single machine that stretches its tendrils across the entire universe.
Nimrod says that they reached out to build a world-mind to attract a galactic suitor, a protector. Instead, what they got was a predator. That the Phalanx are built to consume worthy cultures and add that societal intelligence to theirs. That converting matter to energy is how the Phalanx thrive in service to their masters.
Nimrod says that tomorrow, the Phalanx will absorb their world’s collective intelligence into theirs, thereby allowing their world to live forever. However, in doing so the Phalanx will consume the entire planet and leave no living thing behind.
We then get a two-page information insert on the Types of Universal Societies. An SI: 10,000,000 is a Titan. It is an interstellar society that has advanced to the density of its unified intelligence and collapsed space-time into a singularity. Titans are singular intellects and not a collective or a group.
An SI: 100,000,000 is a Stronghold. This is a small network of normally five or fewer Titans confined to a galactic cluster or a dense collection of stacked galaxies. Strongholds are warring factions seeking to actively destroy or absorb other Strongholds in order to achieve Dominion status.
An SI: Undefined is a Dominion. This is a collective of ten or more Titans acting in unison to control a particular sector or sectors of space in both area and epochs of time. The local Dominion controlling the sector including Earth space is a collective numbering 112 Titans. That the power of a Dominion is categorically “godlike.” The only primal threats to a Dominion are Galactus (World-Eater) and the Phoenix (Singular universal manifestation of life). End of issue.
The Good: Powers of X #5 was another excellent read. Honestly, it is getting difficult to review Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X because all I end up doing is just keep singing Hickman’s praises. But, the fact is that Hickman is doing a masterful job with the stories on both House of X and Powers of X. It is nothing short of brilliant.
Powers of X #5 is another wonderfully plotted and paced issue. Hickman continues to deftly handle multiple intricate and detailed plotlines and merge them together in an intelligent and organic fashion. There is zero doubt that Hickman’s plotting is simply on an entirely different level than what you get from other comic books on the market. Hickman moves Powers of X #5 forward in his usual steady pace. Nothing ever seems too rushed, however, the story never meanders or loses focus, either. Hickman truly has found the perfect median for the pacing for his story.
Hickman continues to deliver even more incredible world-building in Powers of X #5. Hickman adds layer upon layer of additional information into this story. I love that Hickman will revise older plot lines and continue to flesh out the backstory with even more detail. This is the type of intricate and meticulously crafted story that I appreciate. This also helps to make the X-Men’s world so rich and complex. Hickman’s level of world-building is able to make Powers of X #5 yet another amazingly immersive issue. It is so easy for the reader to get completely enveloped and lost in Hickman’s story.
Hickman crafts plenty of his usual quality dialogue and character work in this issue. The various characters all have well defined external voices. The dialogue has a good flow to it. All of the characters continue to be well developed and interact with each other in an enjoyable fashion.
The four-page opening scene with Professor Xavier and Forge is a good example of Hickman returning to an older plotline and continuing to flesh it out with even more detail. The reader already knows that Professor X succeeded in creating this new Cerebro. The reader already knows that Professor X has used the new Cerebro to download and backup a copy of every mutant’s mind/soul on the planet. However, the reader still did not know exactly how this new version of Cerebro was built and the actual structure of the new Cerebro and how it operates and is implemented. Well, Hickman goes back to this already established information and fleshes it out even further with even more information.
Is it necessary that Hickman deliver this level of detail? No. There was no absolute necessity that the reader gets this additional information about Cerebro in order to understand the story. But, this level of additional information is the kind of intricate world-building that makes a setting rich and textured. This is the type of detailed world-building that makes a story immersive and become a story that evolves past just a simple comic book story.
The one-page informational insert on Cerebro is excellent. This is even more detail and information for the reader to further flesh out how Cerebro version 7.0 is constructed and operates. Again, these informational inserts simply make this story far more immersive and exciting. When a writer truly delights in the smallest details it only serves to get the reader even more invested in the story. I like Hickman’s choice of term for the backup stations. Calling the backup stations “cradles” helps to reinforce the rebirthing aspect of bringing mutants back to life.
The nine-page scene with Emma, Magneto, and Professor X is another well-crafted scene. Hickman delivers some strong character work in this scene. Hickman has an excellent feel for Professor X, Magneto, and Emma and it really shows in this scene. The result is that Hickman is able to generate some quality chemistry between the three characters.
Hickman absolutely nails Emma’s personality. I continue to be impressed with how Hickman writes Emma’s character. It is simply fantastic. Hickman manages to get that perfect balance of ego, confidence, the hint of something dangerous, and true loyalty to mutantkind that comprises Emma’s character. Emma is a complex character that defies being classified simply as a hero or a villain. Hickman has shown a keen understanding of this fact.
I also enjoy this scene because it elevates Emma Frost to a level on par with Professor X and Magneto. Emma Frost is a fantastic character. She absolutely deserves to be placed on an equal footing with long-time heavy hitters and icons in Professor X and Magneto.
I love Hickman’s use of the Hellfire Corporation within the context of the X-Men’s new setting. Using the Hellfire Corporation and its infrastructure to distribute the Krakoan drugs to friendly nations is brilliant. It is also a perfectly logical use of the Hellfire Corporation. Again, I am just amazed at how Hickman is able to take all these various disparate organizations and characters from the X-Men continuity and implement them in his new setting for the X-Men in such a logical and organic fashion.
Of course, I also love that Hickman is going to be bringing back Sebastian Shaw. The idea that there needs to be a black-book side to the Hellfire Club in order to get drugs to non-friendly nations and to get mutants out of non-friendly nations is fantastic. This reinforces the dual nature of the Hellfire Club that has always been balanced between White Royalty and Black Royalty. Again, this is logical use of the Hellfire Corporation that pays homage to the Hellfire Club’s classic construction.
I love the two-page informational insert on the Quiet Council of Krakoa. This is the moment where Hickman does some more world-building while teasing the reader with multiple mysteries. We still have no idea who the third members of Autumn and Spring will be. And we have no idea at all who the three members of Winer will be and who the three members of Summer will be. I love these mysteries and am excited to see who Professor X selects for these remaining positions. You have to think that we are going to get some classic villains placed on this council, as well. I am thinking that maybe Winter is comprised of villains. We shall see!
The three-page scene of Professor X reaching out to the villains was solid. Easily the best part of this scene was the interaction between Professor X and Namor. Damn, Hickman definitely shows that he has an excellent feel for Namor’s character. Hickman doles out some perfect dialogue for Namor in this scene. This was such good character work. I have always been a big fan of Namor and seeing him regal and imperious is exactly how I love to see him being written.
Hickman definitely nailed it by having Namor rebuff Professor X and then demean Professor X. This is absolutely how Namor would respond to such an overture. I know that Namor is a mutant. In fact, Namor is Marvel’s “first” mutant. However, Namor is not a character that I ever link to the X-Men. The idea of Namor abdicating his throne and leaving his people of Atlantis to go live in Krakoa is pure folly. Namor has always associated himself with the people of Atlantis first and foremost. Even though Namor is a mutant he self-identifies as an Atlantean. I am glad that Hickman went in this direction with Namor’s character.
Hickman ends Powers of X #5 with a solid four-page final scene centering on the Phalanx. This plotline is some fantastic Science Fiction. No doubt about it. But, I am still wondering how this plotline fits in with the rest of the story that Hickman is giving us in House of X and Powers of X. This plotline still seems disconnected from everything else going on. Which is odd since Hickman has done such a fanatic job weaving all of the other disparate plotlines and time periods together to form such a beautiful and cohesive tapestry.
The two-page informational insert discussing the types of universal societies is fantastic. This builds off of the informational insert on universal societies that we got back in Powers of X #2. This is an excellent example of how Hickman organically grows this story by adding additional detail on top of detail. Again, all of this is some fantastic Science Fiction. This informational insert does loop both Galactus and Phoenix into the narrative. I like that Hickman is firmly placing his mythos for the different universal societies into the 616 continuity. Galactus is a natural choice to add to the mix. Plus, it is a hat tip to Hickman’s love for the Fantastic Four. The Phoenix is also the other natural choice to bring into this narrative. It helps to loop in yet another X-Men concept into this plotline.
R.B. Silva delivers some solid artwork in Powers of X #5. Silva’s artwork never really blows me away. But, it is dependable and gets the job done.
The Bad: Some readers may not enjoy how Hickman continually goes back and fleshes out already established plotlines. I love that type of detail in writing, but some readers may get annoyed and find that it slows down the story too much. Also, readers who like action may be disappointed with Powers of X #5. This is a dialogue-heavy issue with zero action.
Silva’s art can seem a bit sloppy at times. Silva also has a tough time with facial expressions of the various characters.
Overall: Powers of X #6 is a rich and immersive read that captivates the reader’s attention from cover-to-cover. Hickman delivers an intelligent story that warrants multiple readings in order to fully absorb everything that Hickman is presenting to the reader. Powers of X #6 is absolutely worth every penny of the cover price. If you enjoy superhero comics or love Science Fiction stories then I would certainly recommend that you hop aboard Powers of X and House of X.
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