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.
Yes, this new proactive approach is a bit unsettling. But the whole relaunch is unsettling.
I'll get to that in a minute. I just want to say that, yes, if the X-people are going to take this approach, then proactive is the way to go, so I'm neither surprised nor disappointed. This is the direction in which their radical new philosophy points them, so I expect it.
What I didn't expect is that they left the solar satellite station unmolested after destroying Mother Mold. I mean, what's to stop Orchis from building another? Destroy the station, and if nothing else, you push their R&D back decades.
Anyway, back to "unsettling." Never before have the X-Men felt so alien. My attitude is that they're as human as you and me, but with a DNA tweak. That was Xavier's philosophy too, once upon a time, and I noticed with grave disappointment when both he and Cyclops started talking about humans and mutants as separate species. I felt then that it was simply the writers who didn't quite grasp the original philosophy, but whatever the reason, it happened, and now Hickman has taken that attitude to its logical extreme. Or X-treme, I guess, a more X-treme X-Men than Claremont ever wrote.
But aside from philosophy, it's also behavior. Everyone seems to behaving as if they're part of a hive mind. There are no disagreements. Everyone's on the same page. And it's a page that is at variance with how many of these characters used to believe and act.
How does this new philosophy square with Nightcrawler's Catholicism? Kitty's Judaism? Dr. Reyes' pacifism? Storm's love of her African (and human) tribe? Have all of these people rejected all human contact, including parents and other family? They seem to have, and it doesn't seem to trouble any of them. They all seem high or something.
Which brings us to the literal Ménage à trois at House of Summers. Not only does it creep me out -- for one thing, Wolverine is 5-5 and covered with coarse body hair, so it's always been implausible to me that so many women want to sleep with him -- but it goes against established characterization that either of these men would share anything with each other, much less their woman. And Jean has suddenly embraced polyamory and doesn't care who knows it? The prim girl who used to slut-shame Emma Frost? Doesn't seem in character. It's almost like someone is making them get along.
Which may or may not be true. But it's weird. And so is Cable and Jean acting like mother and son, when they have never had that relationship before, and are, what, kinda the same age? But here she's telling him to set the table, and he's acting like he's about six.
All of it's weird. And alien. And maybe A) this is the new normal. or B) it's mind control. The longer this goes on, the more "A" seems more likely than "B." And I'm not sure how I feel about that, because then everything I've read to date doesn't count. And if it's "B" then every single one of these characters is suffering what amounts to rape. Hickman better have a Plan C up his sleeve.
One last thing: Is Moira X her new mutant name, or does it only apply to the Moira of her tenth timeline?
Hey, Marvel sent a video!
CALLING ALL MUTANTS FOR THE X-MEN #1 TRAILER!
New York, NY— October 15, 2019 — A new dawn has broken for mutantkind, and their current status quo has sent reverberations around the globe! Mutant mastermind Jonathan Hickman has changed the game for Homo Superior and now is ushering in an era of Marvel storytelling the likes of which has never been seen before! So prepare yourself for all-new, all-different X-Men adventures with this launch trailer featuring Editor in-Chief C.B. Cebulski, Senior Editor Jordan D. White, and writer Jonathan Hickman!
The island nation of Krakoa is firmly established, and the X-Men are finally free to truly forge their own path in the world. All mutants are living under one flag – and any of them can be called upon to be an X-Man! With a rotating cast of characters both heroic and villainous, mainstays, fan-favorites, and obscurities alike will all have their chance to shine!
“Jonathan is one of the most skilled writers in the comic book industry for sure. He comes up with enormous ideas and he is incredibly good at executing them perfectly on the page,” praises White.
“[Series artist Leinil Francis Yu] is a phenomenal talent. He has an incredible eye: staging is wonderful, his character designs are cool. I love working with him. He’s fantastic,” says Hickman.
X-Men #1 arrives on October 16th in comic shops, on the Marvel Comics App, and on Marvel.com! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook.
This one didn't do much for me. It features Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat as the central character and shows her to be very capable and a little more violent than I remember. I know she has her fans and I see her as kind of the Dick Grayson of the Marvel U but I've never really cared much about her one way or the other.
In general, I found this issue kind of boring and the concept of a swashbuckling team of mutants just doesn't really appeal to me. I liked some of the stuff Gerry Duggan did with Avengers but he didn't grab me with Marauders.
I'm just getting the new X-Men series and will try New Mutants. Can't buy all these books that have a character or two that I may have good feelings about!
Marauders #1 was interesting, not least due to better characterization than HIckman's, but I am not convinced that the premise makes sense.
If it is to work, we will have to learn soon that Kate's true mission is not nearly so much rescue as it is trade and politics. No way such a ship will be used for going all the way to Russia without other missions along the way. It is not nearly fast enough, and we have at least one member of the Quiet Council aboard. Besides, I must assume that Kate would have attempted other means of travel if she had any urgency whatsoever - if nothing else, she could ask Forge to build something.
Kate was impressively bloodthirsty, and we will have to learn why Krakoa is not allowing her to pass through. Even this soon, there are already many subtle hints of significant levels of inner conflict and intrigue in Krakoa. Which is why I liked Bishop's scene the most.
THen there's this:
JONATHAN HICKMAN AND RUSSELL DAUTERMAN BRING YOU GIANT-SIZE X-MEN
JEAN GREY AND EMMA FROST TEAM UP IN THE FIRST OF A NEW X-MEN SERIES
New York, NY— October 25, 2019 — The plans Jonathan Hickman has for the X-Men aren’t just big; they’re giant-size. Fresh off launching the X-Men into an exciting new era in HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X, Marvel revealed at MCM Comic Con London that Jonathan Hickman will be joining forces with the industry’s top artists to craft a stellar new series: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN. Starting in February, each issue will combine Hickman’s captivating storytelling with the iconic art of a different superstar artist to depict grand-scale adventures focused on specific X-Men characters.
And it all begins with GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: JEAN GREY AND EMMA FROST #1! The new mutant nation of Krakoa is the place for fresh starts, and Jean and Emma, known for their fierce rivalry, will unite to rescue Storm from danger. The two powerful telepaths are in good hands as artist Russell Dauterman will be the first to partner with Hickman for the series. Dauterman will be accompanied by expert colorist Matt Wilson.
Known for his acclaimed work on THE MIGHTY THOR, Dauterman is no stranger to Marvel’s merry mutants, often providing phenomenal covers featuring character designs that have made him a favorite among X-Men fans. An X-Men fan himself, Dauterman is eager to use his skills to bring Hickman’s vision to life. "I’ve wanted to draw X-Men comics since I was a kid, so drawing this issue of X-MEN is a dream come true,” says Dauterman. “I’m so thrilled to be working on this with Jonathan and Matt, and it’s co-starring my favorite character, Jean Grey!"
Giant-Size X-Men was first used as a title in 1975 in a legendary special issue by Len Wein and David Cockrum. It not only marked a new genesis for the team, introducing iconic characters like Storm and Nightcrawler, but is credited for catapulting the X-Men into the powerhouse franchise they are today, a legacy that Hickman and others will now honor month after month. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements about other upcoming GIANT-SIZE X-MEN issues and the artists and characters you can expect to find within their pages!
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: JEAN GREY AND EMMA FROST #1
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN
Art by RUSSELL DAUTERMAN
Colors by MATT WILSON
I hope jean changes costumes again soon. This is easily her weakest ever. The design of her Jim Lee costume with the color scheme of her late Marvel Girl phase. Not a good look.
Hickman recently made a cryptic comment about Jean wearing her Silver Age costume in HoX/PoX. He said:
“I’m not going to lie, this one has been disappointing. I was pretty sure everyone would figure this out as soon as House of X #1 hit the stands. And while I’m not going to spoil the story for you, I will say go back and look at the most famous time she put this costume back on. That should help."
The most famous time she put the costume back on is X-Men #137. Although we later found out that wasn't really Jean and the real Jean was in a cocoon at the bottom of a lake. (Unless that story has also been retconned. I've lost track.) But what exactly was Hickman hoping we would figure out?
Detective 445 said:
But what exactly was Hickman hoping we would figure out?
That it isn't the real Jean Grey, but the Phoenix-created doppelganger that died on the Moon?
Read Marauders #1. My reaction: "Well, that happened." So I'm with those above who found it underwhelming. Maybe it's my underlying disdain for pirate comics.
Hickman is running with a lot of ideas that were hinted at during Grant Morrison's run. And one of the most noticeable traits of that run is that it seems to gloss over the distinction between Jean and Phoenix.
That said, I suppose that the most famous time was indeed X-Men #137, and Hickman probably meant to hint that this is indeed the Phoenix Force back in human form. Or that she is craving a return to the more innocent mindset that she had before her first death.
Perhaps Jean's reaction to the Five's treatment is unusual? She had already died previously, and that may have changed her. Maybe dying again reconnects her to the Phoenix Force (or memories of it) and brings her some measure of resistance to the mind-melding effects of the current status quo? The costume might be part of a deliberate effort to keep her trusting and easygoing.
That may well factor in future issues of the current volume of "X-Men", as she attempts to deal with her issues with Scott, Emma and Logan, which sure look artificially supressed at the moment. Bonus points if they ever come to explain why she thought of Logan as important in her life a year or so back in X-Men Red.
It took me almost two weeks to gin up enough interest to read the new X-Men #1 once I flipped through it and saw it was more of the same. That's another $5 to add to the "loss" pile. "Orchis Forge" reminds me of "Siege Perilous"... in the worst way possible. That's it. I'm out. No more post-Hickman X-titles for me. I won't even read the rest of this discussion.