I’ve probably mentioned on more than one occasion that Jonathan Hickman is one of my favorite writers. I consider his runs on Avengers and Fantastic Four to be among the best ever for those titles. So I was happy to hear about his new X-Men project.

Apparently, his pitch to Marvel was that they should cancel all the X-titles and he would effectively start from scratch in an effort to refresh the franchise. This is especially appealing to me since I have not been following any X-Men books for quite a while and I wouldn’t want to have to go back and wade through all of the more recent stuff.

So the initial offerings in the Hickman “soft reboot” will be the alternating mini-series House of X and Powers of X.

House of X gets off to a pretty good start by introducing us to the new mutant status quo. In a clever call-back to Giant Size X-Men #1, Hickman is building his story around the concept of Krakoa, the living island.

Right off the bat, we see Professor X (who looks little bit too much like The Maker for my liking) summoning his X-Men from subterranean pods on Krakoa. No explanation is given but I’m guessing that Krakoa is feeding off of mutant energy via the pods as it did back in Giant Size X-Men #1.

It appears that the mutants are harvesting flowers from Krakoa which serve several different functions such as teleportation and remote habitat building. They are also used to make pharmaceuticals which Xavier intends to use as leverage with the powers that be. He appears to have a plan to turn Krakoa into a sovereign, mutants only, country that will be a powerful player in world events.

Some of this sounds a little extreme to me, especially in concert with some of the rhetoric being spouted by Magneto in his role as Xavier’s ambassador.

Hickman also introduces us to the Orchis Protocol which is a human run organization designed to prevent mutants from becoming the dominant species on earth. They have a space station which appears to be built around pieces of the Sentinal Mothermold.

Lots of interesting stuff here. I’m curious to see just how far Xavier will go to carry out his new agenda. I like the idea that he has decided that mutants should be proactive instead of waiting around hoping the world will accept them. It makes more sense to force the world to accept them. But is there a point where he will go too far and cross some lines?

One thing I really like about Hickman is his ability to construct these intricate, sweeping sagas with large diverse casts of characters and concepts. I think he’s off to a good start with House of X. Next up will be Powers of X #1.

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Jeff of Earth-J said:

POWERS OF X #4: I’ve read it; now I’m waiting for ‘Tec to explain it to me.

Ha, well I'll do my best.

Powers of X #4

Wow… there is a lot to unpack here. This time around we’ve gone back into info/setup mode and there is a TON to digest.

First off, we have Professor X and Magneto meeting with Mister Sinister in Year 1. I never cared for Mr S in the past but Hickman has done his usual bang up job of turning him into a multi-dimensional character with some entertaining eccentricities. The purpose of this meeting centers around the mutants desire to have all of their DNA copied and catalogued. This points directly to the theory that Xavier may be using mutant DNA to grow new X-Men in the pods on Krakoa. And if this preview cover for PoX #5 is any indication, that’s exactly what is going on. Xavier himself, may have been grown in one of these pods since he is only depicted as a cripple in Year 1.

However, I do have to wonder why Xavier was so upset about his strike team dying if he can simply whip up a new batch to replace them.  Could we be looking at two different timelines between Year 1 and Year 10?

Hickman also provides some odd text pages in a gossip magazine style which contain hints about a number of subplots. There are references to Sinister getting his own mutant DNA from Thunderbird, Madelyne Pryor and her involvement with Inferno, the possibility that there are more than three Summers brothers, hints that Sinister will betray Xavier, and lots more.

Fast forward to Year 10, a few months before the tragic mission to destroy the Mother Mold. Xavier brings Cypher to Krakoa and asks him to create an interface with the island. Cypher learns that Krakoa is an ancient entity that was split in half eons ago. The other half was banished to another realm by Apocalypse (the first mutant) and his Four Horsemen, leaving Krakoa alone and incomplete. Why this is important remains to be seen.

The issue is rounded out with a trip to the Year 1000 storyline. The inhabitants of Nimbus have summoned the Phalanx because they want to "Ascend" and become part of it/them. However, it seems that they are also trying to “hack” the Phalanx by tricking them into absorbing a biological element into their technology based empire. Again, this portion of the story seems less accessible than the rest but knowing Hickman’s track record, I have to believe it will wind up being important at some point.

***Side note: I have a hazy memory of a story involving Warlock and his connection to the Phalanx. The Phalanx, as depicted here, does seem to have a Warlock-like appearance and we’ve seen that Cypher in Year 10 also has the same black/yellow tech in his arm. Don’t know if Hickman plans on connecting these dots or if he’s just paying tribute to past stories.

All of this information can be overwhelming and it’s a shame to have shifted away from the momentum of the more traditional narrative, but I have to say, the depth and complexity of what Hickman has been building is impressive.

Next week: House of X #5.

"Ha, well I'll do my best."

Not, bad, not bad...

I noticed that when Cypher brushed some Krakoan plants with his Warlock arm, the leaves went all techno-organic. I dunno what that means, but as 'Tec always says, if Hickman put it in there, it will probably mean something. Eventually.

I spent my absorbing-the-story time trying to figure out the blind items in the Mr. Sinister rumor page, or whatever it was. Here are my best guesses:

SINISTER SECRET #1 He’s trying to pretend that no one noticed he was wearing red shoes, but this truly sinister Sinister isn’t fooling anyone.

The only red shoes of any significance I knew off the top of my head were The Man with One Red Shoe, Dorothy's ruby slippers and the Hans Christian Andersen take "The Red Shoes." I think we can discount the Tom Hanks movie. I don't see how the fable connects, which is about a girl who wears her red shoes to church, and is punished (by God?) to dance forever, and even after she cuts her feet off, they follow her around, dancing. It's a truly weird fable, and I don't see how it applies to Sinister (or even makes sense).

So I'm left with Dorothy.

I also Googled "Red Shoes" and found out that it's an Urban Dictionary term for impressive breasts. New one on me, so I think we can discount it, since it's apparently somewhat obscure. And there's a 1948 French ballerina movie called The Red Shoes, but that seems even more obscure.

So again I'm left with Dorothy. 

Google also tells me that red shoes are, also, somehow, a symbol for female resistance to patriarchy. Since all the Sinisters are male ... wait, there was Miss Sinister!

Maybe the "truly sinister Sinister" is Miss Sinister, rebelling against the others? And who knows, maybe there's a Dorothy connection, too. Maybe she can tap her heels together and go home? To another timeline? To a parallel dimension?

I confess I don't remember her well. I'm open to suggestions!

SINISTER SECRET #2 And speaking of fashion, the whisper network has turned into a roar regarding the return of this trendsetting mutant who was cut down in his prime. Will someone please tell all these mutants to stop wearing human clothes and join the stampede across their island full of flowers to the flower that’s the fullest?

This seems a too-obvious reference to Jumbo Carnation ("the flower that's the fullest"), who was a fashion designer ("speaking of fashion" "trendsetting mutant"), who died from an overdose of Kick ("cut down in his prime"). He must be back from the dead. Aren't they all?

SINISTER SECRET #3 Years ago, a deceased redheaded pretender made a pact with the devil. When she passed on, most believed that any secrets she had went with her to the grave. Won’t everyone be surprised when they find out not only is this not true, but she left behind a whole lot more than secrets.

A clear reference to Madelyne Pryor, the clone of Jean Grey ("redheaded pretender") who made a deal with N'astirh ("pact with the devil) to become the Goblin Queen. She's currently dead ("went to the grave"), but there's obviously more to the story. Either she's not dead, or she left something secret behind. A pair of red shoes maybe? A child? A clone?

SINISTER SECRET #4 While every Sinister has been busy wondering how they might be affected by current events, almost no one noticed what washed ashore. A word of advice to all things sinister: Don’t embrace the revelry, or there won’t be anything for you to celebrate.

I'm stuck on this one. I don't know of anything important that's "washed ashore" in X-Men history. Aquaman and Namor history, sure, but not X-Men! And I don't know what the Sinisters are celebrating. The two ideas are probably connected, but nothing occurs to me.

Maybe it's connected to Namor, who is now a mutant.

SINISTER SECRETS REVEALED! Certain people are wondering where the tyrant-dispelling Sinister got his mutant gene. And while that really isn’t an interesting story, whom the DNA originally belonged to is.

[John Proudstar/Thunderbird]

Evidently we're to believe that the one Sinister with mutant DNA got it from the deceased Thunderbird. That's ... interesting, I guess? 

SINISTER SECRET #5: He's the best there is at what he does. She's married with a kid. The husband knows exactly what's going on, but who is he to point the finger? He's up to much the same, and more. Maybe this is just the new normal on the mutant island.

This suggests the return of the tired romantic triangle of Wolverine, Marvel Girl and Cyclops, which I would pay money to never see referenced again. Anyway, so Logan is sleeping with Jean and Scott is sleeping with someone else? (Paging Emma Frost.) Yawn.

Of course, it could be some other mutant with a kid. There's Siryn, Jubilee ... I'm running out. And I don't think either of those are married. Come to think of it, Jean Grey is married, but doesn't have a kid, unless you count Rachel Grey from the future. The current Jean hasn't given birth to anyone yet. 

So I may be off base on the romantic triangle. Help me out, X-fans: Who is married AND has a kid AND is female in X-Men history?

SINISTER SECRET #6 Everyone believed that the plan of this progerian mutant with secret sinister ties was foiled, but little did the gifted ones know that the destroyed samples were switched out beforehand.

I had to look up "progerian," which turns out to be a disease where you age fast. That brings up two options immediately. One is Stryfe, an artificially aged clone of Cable. But there's not Sinister connection.

OTOH, there's Ernst, a progerian mutant who once stole DNA samples for Sinister, which were destroyed (in Spider-Man and the X-Men). So he's the likely subject. Also, it's been hinted that Ernst was once, or will be in the future, possessed by Cassandra Nova, who I've always suspected is going to be involved here at some point. (Maybe every Xavier in the ten timelines that can walk?)

SINISTER SECRET #7 Two brothers jumped out of a plane, and for the longest time, until he was discovered, many wondered if there was a third. If we told you there were more, would you believe me? Probably not.

This is an obvious reference to Scott and Alex Summers, who jumped out of a plane. A third Summers brother, Gabriel, was later revealed. I guess more Summers brothers (or sisters) are on the horizon.

SINISTER SECRET #8 For years, this fittest-of-all mutant has routinely surrounded himself with a particular-numbered entourage. These hangers-on stick around for a while until they are eventually replaced with newer, more exciting members. What most people don’t know is that if the original members returned, these pretenders would be dropped so fast their heads would spin.

This is a clear reference to survival-of-the-fittest mutant Apocalypse, who is always surrounded by Four Horsemen. This very issue revealed that the original four are still alive, just separated (with Krakoa's other half) in Hell or some other dimension. They'll obviously be back. 

SINISTER SECRET #9 They say the kids are all right, but all is not right in paradise. This non-couple couple has been apart so long, friends are expecting that when they see each other again fireworks are going to ensue. Is the universe ready? Judging by how unprepared everyone was for what’s happened so far, we kind of doubt it.

"The Kids Are All Right" (or "Alright") is the name of a documentary about The Who (and a subsequent soundtrack album), a dreamedy movie about same-sex parents and a short-lived TV show about a large Catholic family in San Francisco. Since a "couple" is involved, I'm going to go with the movie about same-sex parents.

Especially since "fireworks" suggests Jubilee to me, who has a (non-biological) kid, and is therefore a parent. Her only non-romantic partner ("non-couple couple") I can think of is Wolverine, so maybe that's what this is about. But is there a same-sex (but but not romantic) partner somewhere in Jubilee's past? I can't think of one. 

SINISTER SECRETS REVEALED! We don’t hear this word spoken often, so when we do, it’s best to pay attention, because when you square that circle, what took a long time to build can come crumbling down rather quickly.


I have wiped the Inferno event out of my memory banks. Someone else can field this one.

SINISTER SECRET #10 Which brainwashed mutant Sinister was replaced long before a certain bald somebody knew and has been in on the game for almost as long as the game was being played? Shhhhhhhh!

This suggests that the brainwashed Sinister who was collecting mutant DNA for Xavier and Magneto was quickly replaced, and they don't know it. So the current Sinister, like the one who got everyone killed in another timelines, is another loose cannon.

Those are my best guesses so far. Anyone else got anything?

May #3 be a reference to Nate Grey?  He is Madelyne's son, isn't he?

This may be a bit heretical but.....

…. is it wrong that I'm not sure I want to work quite so hard working out what's going on in a comic book series? 

I don't mind some mystery and even confusion but if I want real brain-twisting stuff I'll pick up a Sudoku book.

I'm really looking forward to some of the books announced once they all settle down but.....

...just me?

Not just you.

Richard Mantle said:

This may be a bit heretical but.....

…. is it wrong that I'm not sure I want to work quite so hard working out what's going on in a comic book series? 

I don't mind some mystery and even confusion but if I want real brain-twisting stuff I'll pick up a Sudoku book.

I'm really looking forward to some of the books announced once they all settle down but.....

...just me?

I don't care for it if I'm not interested. If this were appearing in a book I have marginal interest in, I'd ignore it. And even if I am interested -- like with Hox/Pox -- a little goes a long way. I was willing to spend five minutes guessing at the Sinister Secrets, because it was fun. But I don't translate the Krakoan -- too much work, not fun -- and I don't know what those little numbers off to the side of the text pages mean, and haven't spent a second speculating.

For the most part, I'm willing to let "mysteries" like these stay in a walled-off part of my brain until they're explained for the very reason you state: I don't want to work that hard, especially for something I'm going to be told if I'm just patient.

The downside of that is that, years later, I will forget the reveal! I remember, for example, that Claremont finally explained (in a word balloon) why Storm shaved off all her hair except for a Mohawk. I remember reading it, but I don't remember the explanation. It was so long after the original event that A) it was moot, because Storm had grown her back and B) I no longer cared, because Storm had grown her hair back and I wasn't presented with this unexplained, out-of-character weirdness every month.

“Those are my best guesses so far. Anyone else got anything?”

I found these questions, all of them, to be a little to “cutesy” to bother with.

This is a perfect example of “working too hard.”

Thanks for putting in the time, though. (More effort than I was willing to put forth, obviously.)

House of X #5

Great cover on this one!

In the first issue of House of X we saw some of the mutants emerging from pods on Krakoa. Later, in issue #4, we saw these same mutants perish on a crucial mission. Now In the current issue we see the same pod scene from issue #1 depicted again. So it appears that the suicide mission actually takes place before the emergence from the pods.

This issue details the process of mutant resurrection that allows Xavier to bring his people back from the dead. A group of mutants known as “the five” are able to create new “cloned” bodies from scratch. Xavier then implants backup copies of their minds, thus bringing them back from the dead. This effectively makes all mutants immortal so long as Xavier has a backup and “the five” are all alive.

Some of what Hickman is playing around with here makes me a bit uncomfortable. Xavier being depicted as a Christ-like figure capable of resurrecting others, the quasi-fascist fist raising gesture of the mutants, the way the returned strike team basks in the adoration of the mutant hoi polloi. None of this makes me sympathetic to the mutant cause and a lot of it is disturbing at best.

To add to the disturbing nature of the new status quo, we see Xavier basically giving his stamp of approval to Emma Frost who is using her powers to manipulate foreign diplomats. And finally we learn that all of the mutant villains, including Apocalypse have been invited to live on Krakoa. Surely this will all blow up in their faces.

We’re now three quarters of the way through with this series.

Next: Powers of X #5

It is actually very on the face.  We are not supposed to take Xavier's side this time.  It may even be Onslaught, Cassandra Nova or John Sublime.

Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas is right! I def got the feeling that we were supposed to be appalled by the fascistic nature of the new regime. That it includes Sabretooth, Magneto and Apocalypse pretty much says it all. Storm is acting so out of character that I'm guessing she, too, is being mentally influenced. Cassandra Nova is looking more and more likely.

As to the pod people, there are all sorts of ethical and theological questions that deserve to be addressed. But since I'm a comics fan, my first questions had to do with continuity. If these are new-body versions of the existing characters, then they should not carry the physical results of the originals' adventures. IOW, Wolverine shouldn't have adamantium, and Cyclops shouldn't need his visor. 

“So it appears that the suicide mission actually takes place before the emergence from the pods.”

I took it they emerged from the pods, were killed, then another set was created…?

“If these are new-body versions of the existing characters, then… Wolverine shouldn't have adamantium, and Cyclops shouldn't need his visor.”

I was going to make that same point.

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