House of X #1 Review - The Return of the King
Updated: May 26, 2020
• Recommend (Good But Too Early to Call)
House of X #1 is the highly anticipated X-Men Comic from Jonathan Hickman, one of the greatest writers in modern comics. The comic is really good on its own merits but wasn't quite what I expecting. House of X Feels more like a Zero Issue or -1 than an actual #1
The general premise is that Professor Xavier has discovered a Miracle drug and will give it to humanity in exchange for a sovereign state for mutants.
Right off of the bat we've seen shades of this story before, Most notably when Mutants operated out of "Utopia". What sets this story apart is that Hickman is a truly special writer. The narrative is so dense that it's hardThe Return of the King5 not to be entertained and also intrigued by the morsels dropped throughout the issue.
The comic is broken up into segments and separated by Lore dumps. I found these segments to be the most interesting aspects of the book.
Sidenote: I'm reading Excellence by Brandon Thomas. He and Hickman use similar narrative structure in their storytelling. Most of the lore segments of House of X reminded me of Excellence. It's not really relevant at all as the stories presented in these series are totally different.
As a narrative device though, it's really cool because it makes the comics feel bigger than they actually are, and add a lot of world-building that would otherwise be untold or pushed into another mini-series.
Excellence, by the way, is one of the best comics on the shelves and the narrative structure of both series is part of the reason I think that these comics have immediately connected with an audience.
Most of the chatter surrounding this comic revolves around the official listing of Omega Level Mutants in the 616 Marvel Universe. People have been debating the "who's who" of omega level mutants for years and although I understand the excitement, this isn't really all that interesting or surprising to me at all.
When Omega Level mutants were first introduced in the 90s it was simply a means of categorizing mutants that had such an extreme level of power that they could potentially affect the planet if they were left unchecked in the use of their abilities.
Beta: noted mutants that had abilities that were inherently physical in nature. Colossus, Wolverine, Beast, Forge.
Alpha: would be characters such as Cyclops, Dazzler, Gambit because their powers manifested externally and could affect the environment around them, etc.
The Omega list is pretty much what I expected it to be and I'm not sure why anyone that was a fan of X-Comics would be surprised by the listings. It's cool to debate who's more powerful, but at the end of the day why people are so intrigued by the list?
My favorite scene of the book involved Cyclops and the Fantastic Four. Sabretooth, Mystique, and Toad steal a device and in the midst of escaping Sabretooth kills several guards. Being that the conflict takes place in New York it draws the attention of the FF. Mystique and Toad escape but Sabertooth is captured by the Invisible Woman.
Cyclops arrives and asks to take Sabretooth off of Reed's hands and Reed rightfully refuses. Rather than fight, Cyclops allows the Fantastic Four to take Sabretooth into custody. it's a simple scene but it works because it establishes respect and history between these characters. It also allows Cyclops to deescalate a situation without conflict. Cyclops is a warrior but is also one of the de facto leaders of the mutant race. Seeing him score a victory here diplomatically was great.
Under a lesser creator, the scene could have descended into ideological warfare or an outright fight between the heroes. Here we have a beautifully written scene and ends with a cherry on top of Cyclops inviting Franklin Richards home to spend time with his Mutant family. I also really liked seeing The Fantastic Four matching up against some of my favorite Mutant villains.
There are some other nice scenes with Magneto but there isn't much action and Pepe and Marte don't get much to do outside of set the table for the rest of the series. Pepe can clearly convey action as noted in the brief Brotherhood vs Fantastic Four scenes and If this is a sign of things to come we're in great hands.
I enjoyed the comic for what it was and can see a significant portion of the fandom reading this issue and enjoying it while another segment decides to hold off on the rest of the series until the trade drops. Not because the book is bad but because of the story decompression.
House of X feels more like an alternate take on X-Men than an actual X-Men Story. If you're looking a classic X-Men story in the vein of Joss Whedon, you won't find it here. This issue feels more like an extension of Grant Morrison's run with its characters and depictions. It's a good company to be in regardless. The Morrison run was different but it was also amazing.
This issue is oversized and is about double the size of a normal comic. I believe the comic justifies the cover price. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it's an undeniably good comic. Check out House of X #1 and judge for yourself.
Addendum: My theory is that these are not the Real X-Men and that we may be looking at an invasion of the Body Snatcher's situation.
I also believe that this is not Xavier and that the villain behind this series is "The Maker". It's actually kind of obvious. Let's hope Hickman subverts expectations with the reveal.
Let me know what you think.