Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Color Artist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Welcome to the new world of Marvel’s mutants, I hope you survive the experience.
House of X #1 is the debut of Johnathon Hickman’s whole new take of Marvel’s merry mutants: the X-Men. For those who are unfamiliar with Hickman, his previous works include epic runs on both the Fantastic Four and The Avengers. In both cases, Hickman upended the status quo of the franchises while gaining critical acclaim for what he did. Now, it is the X-Men’s turn to get the Hickman treatment. And Hickman has promised something all new that will shake the Marvel universe to its core.
House of X starts with a blank white page with a simple proclamation from Professor X. “Humans of the planet Earth. While you slept, the world changed.” With those words fresh, we are thrust into a tree of life where pods are beginning to open. From those pods emerge what can be assumed to be the original X-Men as they crawl towards Professor X. As he looks down upon his creation with a pride and confidence, he utters the familiar phrase, “To me, my X-Men.” And within two pages, it is obvious Hickman is ready to deliver on his promise of a whole new world for the X-Men.
The mutants are once again the next step in evolution on the planet Earth. However, it is now obvious that Professor X and other mutants are not afraid to wield that power. Instead, the living island Krakoa has become a nation in which all mutants may live upon peacefully and without fear of human interference.
In an attempt to secure their sovereignty, Charles Xavier has bought a pharmaceutical company. From that company, he is wielding the medicinal power of the Krakoa flower to influence world leaders. All the mutant leader wants is for the world to leave mutants alone and to grant amnesty to those mutants who break human laws.
Everything that Hickman presents in House of X #1 feels familiar yet is completely different from what we have seen in the recent past. For those not familiar with the X-Men history, this is a chance at a fresh start. While some of the throwbacks go pretty deep, Hickman does an excellent job bringing people up to speed. Hickman also takes time to clean up some of the confusion that has happened in the past. Through his typical charts, we get a definitive list of who the Omega mutants are. In addition, he creates an entire alphabet and language just for mutants with typical Hickman fashion.
There are a minimal number of characters that are brought of in this first issue. However, the ones who are presented already feel like full and robust characters. None stand out more than Magneto. He is regal, all-knowing, and one step ahead of those who present a challenge to him. As engaging as Hickman’s writing is, it is only part of the puzzle. The art and the coloring keep you fully engaged as the lettering drives the emotions.
Larraz’s art keeps House of X #1 from feeling like an info-dump. The art is full of an energy that moves the reader from one panel to the other and keeps the reader engaged. Character designs are just as stunning as the environment they find themselves in. Jean Grey has retaken the Marvel Girl mantle and has a modern version of her classic green dress to accompany it.
The throwback look to the coloring and design pop feel modern and fresh. Magneto’s look also matches his personality. In all white, he calmly looks down upon those he sees as weaker than his. Calm, cool, collected, arms behind his back, he exudes a confidence that has been missing from the character.
There is a lot going on in House of X #1, yet it feels concise. There is nothing that feels like filler. Instead, by the end of the book, the new status quo feels established. At the same time, it is obvious that Hickman is placing clues to the overall picture of this story. Hickman takes the time to establish the X-Men within the current Marvel universe confirming that this is not an alternative reality. Fans who have been waiting for the next instant classic like Morrison’s run should be pleased with this first chapter for Hickman and company.