Towards a Mutant Homeland
Alright, here’s the big one – the X-men relaunch from superstar writer Jonathan Hickman, with incredible art from Pepe Larraz. With X-men suffering from a bit of dilution up to this point, with far too many titles and not enough distinction between them, House of X #1 marks the start of a linewide relaunch from Marvel of what once was their most popular team of superheroes.
The book, suffice it to say, does not disappoint. It brings together so many of your favourite X-men, eschews a lot of the trappings of some of the convoluted continuity (though I assume this will be addressed as the series moves forward, as well as in its companion series, Powers of X) and brings back a ton of iconic characters. Also, there’s a cameo from the Fantastic Four, because, why not? While most relaunches, especially ones of this magnitude, tend to present a back-to-basics approach to their characters, House of X surges forward to a whole new paradigm for mutantkind and the Marvel universe at large.
A Return to Sci-Fi
Part of this forward momentum owes itself to Hickman’s understanding of some of the elements that have made the great X-men stories of the past, namely, the ones that push beyond the soapy drama, into weird and interesting Sci-Fi. Part of the story occur in space, and the rest involves the creation of a new mutant homeland using some very futuristic (one might say, mutant?) plants. It’s an eclectic mix that comes together to produce something miraculous, but more importantly, something very different from everything that has come before.
Part of what makes the book feel new are some of the choices that have been made aesthetically, particularly with regard to the lettering, which is in sentence case, and gives the book more of an indie science fiction vibe than a mainstream superhero one. It’s surprising how something so small can have a significant impact on how the book is consumed.
All the Hickman-ness
But that’s not the only weird, Hickman-esque thing about the book. It hops around through a number of different narratives effortlessly, and between each one it gives graphs and maps and timelines and more context about mutantkind than we’ve seen in a while. Also, we finally have a coherent definition of “Omega Level”, as well as a list of current Omega mutants.
Beyond that though, Hickman’s voice comes through in each speaking character. Only time will tell whether that’s a good or a bad thing, since all the characters who had speaking roles in House of X #1 were very imperious and self-assured. It will remain to be seen whether the characters themselves come through a little more as the book continues.
Despite this, there were some great character moments, particularly from Cyclops and Magneto, and from the little cameo from the Fantastic Four.
A New, Visually Stunning Paradigm
It’s also clear that none of this could have been accomplished without Pepe Larraz’s art, which is nothing short of extraordinary. From the smallest flower to the grandest scale space platform, the art really captures the scope, ambition, and weirdness of the X-men.
With stunning art and a bold new direction, House of X is sure to please old fans with its returning characters, while also serving as a perfect jumping-on point for new readers. This book, in short, does everything. Oh, and if that’s not enough, the digital version on Comixology comes laden with an extraordinary amount of backmatter, the full script (with mysterious redactions), and a ton of behind the scenes process stuff that is sure to please and enlighten anyone interested in the craft of comics.
How did we rate House of X #1? 6 Sodas.
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Writes about the law by day. Reads, writes and writes about comics by night. Unhealthy television addiction. If found unconscious, buried under several half-finished novels, please return to Sydney, Australia.