The Allure of House of X and Powers of X
Lost in the Wilderness
I finally got around to reading this little comic gem called House of X/ Powers of X (HoX/PoX) and I regret that it took this long to read it. I am a massive fan of Hickman’s work in general and I have been a lifelong fan of X-Men (you can thank the 90’s Animated series for that). The fact it took me until now to finally read it disappoints me. It’s the big X-Men reboot I’ve been wanting since Bendis’ run wrapped.
Despite being a big fan of the X-Men cartoons from my childhood, I didn’t get my first X-Men comic until 2007. Unfortunately, they were in the midst of dramatic changes. Decimation hit and after Messiah Complex (which is roughly the time I jumped into the line wholesale) the X-Men’s direction never clicked. Sure there were books that I loved from time to time, but the line as a whole? I wasn’t a fan. Part of the problem was after Messiah Complex the X-Men moved to San Francisco and eventually to Utopia. It just didn’t work for me. Which is peculiar because The Dawn of X era is literally mutants run to start their own nation on an island nation that was associated with a previous antagonist. What if I told you this was the at least third time that this happened?
Heads up the following article will be full of spoilers for House of X and Power of X
What is the allure of House of X and Powers of X?
It is a Sci-fi Utopia story dressed up with X-Men. Okay there is more to it than that, but it is a story about a true Utopic society that is just disturbing. There is an eerie feeling that everything is off, but it is the best way possible. Given that Moira’s ethics are established as being flexible (which comes with being a reincarnation powered mutant) along with Magneto and Xavier’s already established shaky grasp of ethics, there is likely something twisted at play here. While I have not read through all of Dawn of X and Swords of X (yet), it would not amaze me to find that this utopia is a true dystopia as the case with most utopias in pop culture.
The science fiction elements come across with the time jumping elements of the story and the central premise of the story: Moira Mactaggert is a mutant. Not just any mutant but a mutant that lives her full life, dies, and is reincarnated as herself all back at square one. She retains her memories and experiences to live her life again. She can choose new paths and directions in her new life. This cycle continues unless she dies before her mutant gene is expressed. Think All You Need is Kill/ Edge of Tomorrow, but taken to its full extreme. Moira takes this power and commits to making the world best for Mutants. Which is what sets forth the action we read in the story. HoX/PoX is the tale of Mutant’s Rise to glory and possibly their fall. This is done using timelines.
The story takes place in four primary timelines:
- X0-Essentially Year One, a time frame where Xavier meets Moira and first creates the X-men. Xavier and Moira begins planning with Magneto for a mutant haven.
- X1-Year Ten, current timeline of the Dawn of X storyline
- X2– Year One Hundred, a year where Nimrod and machines has taken charge. Mutants are largely extinct on earth and humans aren’t in a much better place but work with the machines.
- X3-Year One Thousand, humans are replaced with Homo novissima who have ascended beyond humanity and is about to merge with the Phalanx. Mutants are largely dead except for Wolverine and Moira.
Year One Hundred and One Thousand are the most sci-fi heavy of the story (given their future settings, that should be obvious). Each provides a different post-apocalyptic takes on the X-Men and are pure Hickman. We are talking high-minded approached to aliens and machines. It works so well because each future feels lived in with established characters and settings. The story picks up at the twilight of each timeline and it goes poorly for the X-Men. As it is revealed throughout the story each timeline is Moira’s past lives playing out, and it becomes clear that things don’t work out well for the X-Men.
Actually, it shows this dark truth to the comic. The X-Men and mutants never win. While Moira can change the her future using the knowledge of her past lives, there seems to be one consistency to it all. Moira fails every. Single. Time. This brings dark tone to the backing of Krakoa. Of course, the knowledge of their likely failure doesn’t deter Xavier and Magneto. Instead, they foolishly proclaim that can change their fate. This will not end well. It never does.
This all but assured failure give the story and direction a Sword of Damocles that you want to see fall. The final reveal is what made me want to keep reading (well that and it’s an excellent comic). You keep reading wondering if this is the thing that brings down Krakoa. In HoX/PoX, we already start seeing shades of events that do lead to the Fall of Mutants throughout the story such as the human opposition Orchis and the raid of their creation the Mother Mold, an AI Sentinel designed to build Master Molds.
Orchis is set to create the first Nimrod and that is one of the constant forces that set back mutants in Moira’s lifetimes. The team raid Orchis solar base (seriously cool concept) and it is very dark. Things don’t work out well for the X-Men. They succeed in the raid but at the cost of their lives. The issue itself shows each X-Man violently being killed during this raid. It is heavy.
The raid\’s failure showcases two things. First, we are shown the toll the death of the X-Men have on Xavier. It is another batch of deaths in the long fight against the oppression from humans. It cements for the reader the change in Xavier\’s character from peaceful coexistence to demanding respect and change. Xavier\’s beyond tired of the death and destruction. This is where we are introduced to the second key concept introduced in HoX/PoX, Mutants cannot die. Through the work of 5 mutants along with Xavier (or any telepath), any mutant can be brought back to life.
Any mutant that has ever lived can be brought back. This opens up a world of possibilities. Not only does death have no meaning (which it never really has in X-Men comics) but it now opens up narratives where any mutant character can be brought back. This is the real game changer of the comic and changes the direction of the X-Men ahead. No longer are mutants an endangered species. No longer do mutants have to flee the earth to avoid Inhumans. No longer do the mutants have to solely struggle. They can live. They can live in peace. They can create culture. They can thrive.
The Dawn of X
This presents a weird dichotomy for the X-Men and the mutants as a whole. We are told the mutants are doomed to fail despite all the best interventions, but also mutants cannot die. Not only can they not die there are plans to bring back other mutants. One of the laws of Krakoa is make more mutants. The mutants are currently winning. Krakoa is recognized as a sovereign nation. The mutant people can finally live in peace.
Overall, it is an interesting story premise and one I am down to reading for some time. X-Men have been a roller coaster of quality and interests for me for the past 13 or so years. Time will tell if Hickman’s direction will hold up. I think what they are laying down is interesting and probably the boldest take on X-Men since Grant Morrison’s wonderful (if not polarizing) run. That may be why I loved this story. There hasn’t been a X-Men story that reminded of Morrison’s run for a long time and I find Morrison’s run to be my favorite of the Post-Claremont era. Anything that reminds me of that will always be welcomed on my bookshelf (or in this case my digital library) House of X and Powers of X sets the foundation of a new era that rivals some of the strongest directions of the past. I eagerly await the Dawn of X.