To call House of X #1 perhaps the most highly anticipated comic event of 2019 might be an understatement. It’s been hyped more than almost any other comic this year. So does it live up to the hype?
Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller kick off the new era of the X-Men in this issue.
While humanity slept, the world has changed. The X-Men have unveiled the mutant nation of Krakoa, and have offered the world boons in exchange for beginning peaceful relations. How will humanity react to Xavier’s offer? And is Xavier a friend or foe?
I am not exaggerating when I say this might be the best X-Men comic since April 2001 (AKA- the beginning of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men). This is an exciting story, with paradigm shift after paradigm shift. Hickman demonstrates in these forty-odd pages that not only does he understand the X-Men and mutants’ place in the Marvel Universe, but he knows how to utilize the potential off literally every bit of X-Men characters, lore and history to build this story. This isn’t simply an X-Men story, it’s a Marvel Universe event.
One highlight of the issue here is the use of Charles Xavier. Charles has more or less been off the board since AvX, despite his return in Astonishing X-Men, so his return here is not only welcome, but also makes his presence a great mystery for the series as a whole. Add to it that he’s vaguely threatening the entire time, and it gives us a recipe for an intriguing story to come.
I’ve also never had supplemental material that have felt so crucial to a story. Hickman, Cowles and Muller fill this book with information, and it all feels essential and important to the story. We learn about what the different species of Krakoa flowers do. We learn about Omega Mutants, with probably the best definition of the concept since it was introduced. We see the geography of Krakoa and the make-up of the Orchis Protocol. It’s a fascinating dive into this new mythology.
I heaped praise on Larraz during his work on Extermination last year, and this issue is simply next level work from him. He uses a softer line on his pencils, especially for the scenes set on Krakoa, and that adds an ethereal feel to the story. He’s also able to make the important moments seem grand and awe-inspiring, from the reveal of Magneto as ambassador of Krakoa, to Jean’s arrival on the island, to the stunning reveal of the forces rallying against the X-Men.
Gracia’s color work is stunning. He floods the pages with light and color, making everything seem truly bright and hopeful for the X-Men, but he also shifts his palette depending on the setting and tone of the scene. It makes everything feel real, but also full of wonder.
I’m glad this event is going to be weekly, between this series and Powers of X, because I don’t think I could stand the anticipation otherwise. It’s not hyperbole to say this might be the best comic I’ve read in 2019, and it’s stunning that it’s coming as part of a franchise like the X-Men. As a side note, if you read digitally, make sure to get the director’s cut edition, and if you read physical books, redeem the included digital copy, as it will likely include the director’s cut as well. The supplemental material there includes the variant covers, Hickman’s (heavily redacted) script for the issue, and inked and colored art from the issue.
Welcome to the House of X, I hope we all survive the experience.
House of X #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.