An all-new mutant Moira MacTaggert
If you thought House of X #1 was a dazzling and innovative portrayal of mutants, just you wait until you read #2. The second outing of the flagship title of Marvel’s X-men relaunch from visionary writer Jonathan Hickman and superstar artist Pepe Larraz redefines the mutant paradigm yet again.
What was astonishing about House of X #1 was the fact that it felt like an X-men book and yet it eschewed a back-to-basics reboot approach for a spectacle that felt entirely new. Part of that was entirely ignoring the convoluted continuity that has marked the X-titles up to this point.
It’s true, all of it
House of X #2 does it differently again, painting a world where all previous X-men stories are true and all are posible in a way that feels fantastically reminiscent to the recent Hawkman run by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch. Here we see the history of the X-men through the eyes of an unexpected (and often underappreciated) protagonist, Moira MacTaggert, who, as this issue reveals, has been a mutant this entire time.
As a DC/Marvel egalitarian, I find myself wary of stories that fetishise their own continuity (I’m looking at you, every DC Crisis event). This doesn’t feel like that, but rather it feels like a natural extension that expands the X-men mythos without denying all the history that came before.
Moira MacTaggert has the mutant power of reincarnation. Whenever she dies, she starts her life anew, with full knowledge of what came before. With this change, Hickman sends up a tribute to the entire convoluted history of the X-men, including several incarnations of the team, and so many fan-favourite stories, including Professor X’s many conflicts with Magneto, Days of Future Past and the Sentinels, the Age of Apocalypse and more.
A deeply personal tale
Despite the grandiose scale, and the multiple threads of House of X #1, House of X #2 delivers a deeply personal tale of a woman unhappy with her lot in life, and desperately trying to change it. The relationships with other characters in this issue all reveal new aspects to Moira’s personality, from Professor X, to Magneto, to the eventual appearances of Destiny and Mystique. The fate of the X-men lies in the hands of these incredibly powerful women.
Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the issue is that, by the time you hit the last page, you feel the weight of Moira’s many lives just as they are instantly relayed to one of the characters. That expression of WHOA, on that last panel – that’s the feeling evoked in the reader as well. There’s a sort of perfect symmetry to the ending that is incredibly powerful.
New scope and scale
Pepe Larraz doesn’t miss a beat with the change of pace in this issue. Where the first issue explored locations with vast scale, including space stations and island sanctuaries, the switch in this issue to an intimacy that puts Moira MacTaggert in full focus would be jarring were it not for Larraz’s skill and expressive rendering of the character, even down to her expressions during multiple gestations in the womb.
House of X #2 succeeds in interfacing with the entire convoluted X-men continuity, and thematically sending up that convolutedness in a beautiful and tragic tale. In this, the fate of mutants comes down to its powerful women, a choice I can’t help but applaud Hickman for. Gone are my misgivings that every character in the book has Hickman’s voice. Also, it wouldn’t be a Hickman book without a chart, depicting the Moria’s many lives. All-in-all, another brilliant outing for Hickman and Larraz in what is shaping up to be a masterstroke of a relaunch.
How did we rate House of X #2? 6 Sodas.
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