A review/recap from Christopher Franey and Rafael Encinas
Welcome back X-fans and let us get ready to dive into the next phase of Jonathan Hickman’s X-men with ‘Dawn of X’ . We are fresh off of ‘House of X’ and ‘Powers of X’ (Ten) so we wanted to do a recap of the two series and how they intermingled with each other. Rafa will cover “Powers” and I will talk about “House” and then we will both put our thoughts out there along with some of the hopes and wonders about the ‘Dawn of X’ that will begin in today’s X-men #1. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Synopsis: It all begins here…Hickman’s vision of the X-men and Mutants and their place in the Marvel Universe. Now be prepared with this story because you could probably read one without the other, but the layers that they add to each is so much more enriching to the overall tale. I was just planning on ‘House of X’ only at first, but I am totally glad that I added ‘Powers of X’ as well. The issue opens hard with Xavier in his new Cerebro helmet and us seeing the pod people; it is such a cold open that we are guessing who the pod people are and why they could be there, then finally the first words are spoken…”To me, my X-Men.” We see various X-Men members planting these flowers, that have grown off of Krakoa, in various places that are famous to X-Men lore…and Mars and the Jerusalem Habitat. Once they fully grow we can see how massive and lush they are. Now we are taken to a political side of the story in which we can see that various countries are being offered a gift from the Mutants; a drug that can extend human life another five years, prevents diseases of the mind, and a powerful antibiotic. Xavier is using the drug to get other countries to recognize Krakoa as a Mutant nation. We are then treated to a tour of how Krakoa works and how it will be for Mutants and Humans on the land as well. Hickman does treat us to some pages that are info-graphics…spend the time to read and enjoy them, also take notes. The action continues with reveal of Orchis and their base near the Sun, “Evil” Mutants committing crimes of breaking and entering, murder, and data theft; to which the Fantastic Four answer and leads to an interesting showdown with Cyclops. The issue ends with Magneto letting the Humans present that the Mutants are so much more now…they are New Gods. Stage is set and the drama is high.
Critique: Lots of mystery is laid out for the reader and makes for a comic that you will probably read over and over again. Lots of questions will come to your mind…which is great, and hopefully with HoX/PoX answering them as you go along. This is not for the mere “fanboy” this is some serious comics that will have you analyzing who the X-Men have become. Great read and it has me hooked. Pepe Larraz is just killing it with the art as well. He just draws these characters and they feel iconic again…even though some of them have new costumes and looks, they just look amazing. This is an artist to follow if you can.
Synopsis: This issue is an excellent introduction to the expansive and detailed world that Hickman is creating. Whereas House of X #1 creates a new and exciting position of empowerment for the mutant species through Xavier and Magneto’s new ambitions, Powers of X #1 sets up an impressive and expansive timeline of mutant events. We get Year One: The Dream in where we have Xavier’s early life as leader of the X-Men and when he first meets Moira; these are the events that occur before the events in House of X. We have Year Ten: The World which is the current timeline we saw in House of X. We have Year One Hundred: The War which showcases a dystopian future where Nimrod and the humans have almost wiped out the mutant species. We are particularly introduced to new mutants Rasputin and Cardinal who are on a mission to retrieve important information from earth. They escape by the skin of their teeth. And lastly, we have Year One Thousand: Ascension where it appears that humans have evolved to a higher level of intelligence, and all mutants have been subjugated in a preservation habitat.
Critique: Basically, this is a wild issue where we see Hickman world-building and setting in motion the events in where the X-Men will inevitably lose. R.B. Silva’s art is outstanding with vivid lines and colors! The new mutants: Rasputin and Cardinal are excellent new characters introduced with enough characteristics that make them feel like mutants we’ve loved and known in the past, but with enough differences that they come off as unique and special. Also, Nimrod is portrayed as an absolute wicked and deranged machine hell bent on destroying the mutants, so that is a plus. Overall, this issue is great storytelling because it sets up and asserts what we are going to eventually end up leaning in POX #6: The X-Men always lose. It is both a somber but effective and electrifying issue.
Synopsis: This issue will change everything you know about Moira MacTaggert, who last time we saw here in main continuity was dead. We will see various versions of her life and how she has been successful in them or been utterly defeated; what is great for Moira is that she will be able to retain her memories from each life. So she has tried it all, being there for Xavier, being with people like Magneto and Apocalypse. Spending one of her lives trying to kill off the Trask bloodline; which is really telling that the Machines/A.I. are worse to the Mutants than the Humans are. Her third life was very interesting as she decides to use Science to help cure the Mutants and avoid their fate altogether, but she is stopped by Mystique and her Brotherhood. We can see some big setting up with Moira’s confrontation with Destiny; which will come to play out towards the end of the tale.
Critique: HoX 2 was just mind blowing to me…I mean Moira MacTaggert is a Mutant! I remember reading about her first appearance and she was saying she was Xavier’s maid…then his lover…mother of Proteus and so much more to her, plus she’s dead! This just was a wild ride of an issue and has me very intrigued about Moira’s new abilities. This also raises a big question for me…which life is Moira currently in? Like was she always living everything out in the “Marvel-616” first experience or was she pretending it along? Plus with the info-graphic we can see that “Life Six” is missing…so what happened there? They mystery deepens. At least we know something more about Moira MacTaggert.
Synopsis: Powers of X #2 continues to explore the events of each timeline that Hickman showcased in POX #1. It begins in Year One where Xavier and Moira recruit Magneto to their cause (we get to see the bromance develop and strengthen now with the incorporation of Moira’s vision). This is an excellent scene where we see these powerful mutants come together for a long-term plan. We then get a look into the Year Ten timeline where Magneto and Xavier recruit Cyclops to assemble a team. They must stop the activation of that timeline’s Mother Mold because it ultimately becomes the Nimrod that we see in Year One Hundred. Basically, Cyclops is given an almost impossible task, but knowing what is at stake, he cooly accepts (setting up one of House of X’s pivotal moments). During the One Hundred timeline, we get further details on Rasputin and Cardinal’s mission on earth. They have retrieved important information necessary for locating the exact time and date of Nimrod’s activation. However, they must return to Nimrod’s archive to find the specific data file. Again, this appears to be another impossible task because of Nimrod’s forces. It is revealed that Apocalypse is leading the last mutants on Asteroid K, and he tells them not to fret because he will be leading them. In Year One Thousand, we continue to see Hickman world build by giving us examples of different types of civilizations, almost as if though theoretical physicist Michio Kaku helped him with some of these ideas, and we find out that the evolved humans are seeking ascension by becoming one with the Phalanx.
Critique:Powers of X #2 is an excellent issue because it continues to weave the story that we saw both in POX #1 but also in events from HOX #1 and #2. The art direction continues to be excellent with excellent graphic design and utilization of text. There are also definite stand out character moments for both Cyclops and Apocalypse; they just feel so cool. Hickman is a master at these huge sci-fi epics, and it is further proven through both the plot reveals (We need to stop the Master Mold from coming online) and from its insane amount of questions that keep popping up (What really is going on in Year One Thousand?).
Synopsis: This issue starts with a bang as we focus on the events of Year One Hundred. The last mutants of Asteroid K unleash a final assault on the Nimrod’s Machine Empire. Rasputin, Cardinal, and Xorn have some great moments as they act as a distraction for Wolverine and Apocalypse to retrieve the vital information from Nimrod’s archives. Nimrod shows up and has an awesome battle against Apocalypse. With Wolverine being the sole survivor and heading back to Asteroid K, it is revealed that Moira has been in stasis and is woken up so she can absorb Nimrod’s origin point which happens when the humans activate the Mother Mold in the Year Ten timeline (which is being attacked by Cyclops’ team in HOX #3). Now that Moira has absorbed this knowledge, Wolverine kills her and so ends the ninth life of Moira.
Critique: This is an action-packed issue with many standout moments. Apocalypse taking on Nimrod so that Wolverine can escape with the information is not only a highlight, but a badass moment. Xorn and Rasputin’s final Hail Mary as they “Black Hole Sun” Omega and her forces is very gratifying. And the reveal that this timeline wasn’t necessarily the future of the current House of X timeline, but instead was a future for Moira during her ninth life is a crazy reveal, and it showcases exactly why Hickman is such an exciting and rewarding writer. Furthermore, what I like most about this issue is the fact that it focuses solely on the final battle between Nimrod and the mutants of Asteroid K. We get some great action sequences with beautiful moments; again, the colors and art direction in this issue is phenomenal. Hickman writes Nimrod in such an awesome way that he has quickly become one of my favorite characters (both full of character and menacingly evil and powerful). Also, Hickman’s Apocalypse is such a stand out character and is given some of the most iconic lines. The final reveal at the end with the time traveling Moira and her ten lives feels exciting and not cliché. Overall, this is a great issue that feels like it pushes the plot forward.
Synopsis: This is a huge action issue…the X-Men take the fight to Orchis to prevent the Mother Mold from going online and that will be leading to the Nimrod sentinel and nightmare that we have been seeing in Powers of X. Cyclops gets his team of Mutants and they are some famous ones to take this suicidal trip to the Sun with him; on that team are Wolverine, Husk, Archangel, M, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Mystique. We also get to see how Mutants and the Law interact at Sabretooth’s “trial” and how he has diplomatic immunity by way of Krakoa; this will be a game changer to the way Mutants can do their actions. Sabretooth is release to Emma Frost’s care where she takes him back to Krakoa. Then we are shifted back into space where we see the X-Men land on the Orchis installation and the battle begins. One member of Orchis makes the ultimate sacrifice to make sure Mother Mold isn’t stopped; he causes and explosion that does take out the X-Men’s means of transportation…but what of the X-men? To be continued…
Critique: This issue was just insane! Seeing the X-Men in action was great and this team that Cyclops put together really just shows that every Mutant is a part of what is happening. Hickman does a great job with the Orchis “villains” as they are people with their own hopes and struggles…plus the way the Mutants have been acting does seem scary…maybe not Sentinel/Nimrod scary, but they just don’t seem to be as peaceful as they once were. I also love that we are not getting some of the Krakoan alphabet, so now we can see what is being said throughout issues and on the last pages. Pepe delivered on the action sequences and made them awesome and real.
Synopsis: We begin with Xavier, Magneto, Storm, and various other Mutants at the Observation on Krakoa as they look on to the events of the X-Men vs Orchis. Their team is in communication with Cyclops’ team out in Space and the discussions are not well at all. This mission has quickly become a high cost to the team. Cyclops tells the others that they have to finish this otherwise it is in waste, so the team rallies and goes at it. The team separates in order to break off the collars that are holding the Mother Mold head to the satellite…one by one the team is successful but at great costs. Jean Grey is the only one to make it out via escape pod, but Orchis is out for blood as this has become personal. This is nothing new for the X-men, but this time…Xavier vows “No More.”
Critique: This issue was just amazing…huge kudos to Pepe on the art. He drew some heart wrenching panels showing how much the X-Men are willing to give in order to prevent Mother Mold. Cyclops is my favorite character and watching his death just hit me hard; especially Jean’s death…that’s the stuff of nightmares. Orchis is not a group you mess with after the events of this issue. This was a high point in both series for me…high stakes mission with the X-men!
Synopsis: Powers of X #4 focuses on Xavier before the events of House of X; it is a behind-the-scenes look into the foundation he lays for what inevitably flourishes in House of X. We see him and Magneto systematically recruit an extra flamboyant Mister Sinister to create a catalog of mutant DNA (this is important because it brings Sinister into Xavier’s endgame and at the same time leads to a game-changing plot point in HOX #5). We also see Xavier recruit Douglas Ramsey (the mutant Cypher) to meet Krakoa and to begin creating a Krakoan language to be utilized later, as we see in HOX #1. We get a glimpse into Krakoa’s past when it was a part of a bigger island state, but due to demons attacking, Krakoa was separated from its second half. We also learn that Apocalypse was the one that cast the demons aside and protected Krakoa from further destruction (a plot point that is further realized in HOX #5). The issue ends with the Year One Thousand timeline in where the evolved humans continue to ponder if the Phalanx will accept their request for ascension.
Critique: I feel like Powers of X #4 is a bit of a letdown compared to the explosive events of POX #3 and HOX #3 and #4. However, it still establishes good background for how certain characters help move the plot forward such as: Cypher and his creation of a Krakoan language system and even Sinister with his role in HOX #5. The issue does wander for a bit and does not feel as important as previous issues; however, it is still an interesting issue. Personally, I was a bit confused by Sinister’s comedic and fabulous characterization, especially at Bar Sinister when he japed about capes. However, I realized that if you read Sinister’s dialogue in Tim Curry’s enigmatic voice, it just makes everything better. I also appreciated the lore about Krakoa’s history, something I am sure Hickman will bring up in the future.
Synopsis: Now we understand why Mister Sinister is a part of this…regrowth and rebirth. So we meet the five: Goldballs, Proteus, Elixir, Tempus, and Hope. They use their powers in conjunction with each other and now we know who those pod people were from earlier; resurrected X-Men. They help to recreate the bodies then Xavier comes in and give the mind back to the body. Storm then addresses all Mutants on Krakoa to make sure that everyone feels that the killed in action X-Men are truly themselves. Storm addresses all of them and they can point out why they are themselves resurrected anew. We then shift to the U.N. and see that the Mutants have gained their nation after all and are recognized by the U.N. and various nations, but not all. Lastly, the doors are open to ALL Mutants and we see various “evil” Mutants arrive at Krakoa…we are then reminded of Apocalypse and Krakoa’s history together. Now there is total unity with all Mutants on Krakoa.
Critique: This was heavy to see Apocalypse and Xavier shaking hands and pledging to make it work for everyone. The resurrection scene was great and what a boost for Goldballs to be a major player now. I just wonder how things will work out for Tempus since Moira didn’t like Destiny’s precog powers, how will time travel be viewed? The resurrection itself is very interesting as that does take the drama out of missions, but then again how real are these X-Men? They may look like our usual Cyclops and Wolverine but is there something more going on?
Synopsis: This issue continues to be a behind-the-scenes look at Xavier putting into place all the pieces to establish his House of X. In this issue, we see Xavier approach the mutant Forge about updating cerebro to copy every mutant’s essence and then store that essence into different redundant cradles /storage for backup. Basically, he enlists Forge to make some upgrades to cerebro with awesome Krakoan technology (which we see used in action in HOX #5). We then see Xavier and Magneto recruit Emma Frost to utilize her Hell Fire Club Corporation to act as the East India Trading Company to deliver the new mutant drugs to other nations, making her essential to the new mutant future. We also get to see Xavier’s call to all mutants, offering them all a home at Krakoa (which is what then happens in HOX #5 when all the villains show up at Krakoa’s gates). The issue ends with the Year One Thousand timeline in where the evolved humans’ request for ascension is accepted; however, this is more ominous than celebratory because this means that the Phalanx will absorb that civilization’s lore and construct, but no living thing will be left behind.
Critique: Like with previous Powers of X issues, this issue is good at giving us a behind the scenes look at creating the nation state of Krakoa. Hickman’s incorporation of Forge is great and the utilization and explanation of cerebro is good storytelling. Also, Hickman writes a powerful and fully realized Emma Frost who feels full of character, passion, and wit. Seeing her interact and bicker with Magneto and Xavier is fun and definitely in character. Xavier coming to Namor to ask him to join them at Krakoa was also a standout because we get an egocentric and empowered Namor who just scoffs at Xavier’s offer, which might be setting something up in the future. Lastly, I am happy that the “ascension” plot with Year One Thousand is reaching its conclusion. I really like the ominous feeling of the Phalanx accepting humanity’s request for ascension but in doing so, humanity has been doomed to a purge of all living things for a form of immortality. Hickman brings up really interesting concepts about immortality and type two and three civilizations and the philosophical implications it has for humanity. I also like the continued build on cosmic lore with continued advanced civilizations like Titan, Stronghold, and Dominion. I am especially interested in seeing how this plays out with the call out that Dominion civilizations only fear the world eater Galactus and the Phoenix. This will definitely come into play in the future, which is again in Hickman’s playhouse; he writes for the long game.
Synopsis: House of X comes to an end and we are going to have some bombshells…the issue opens at Moira’s No-Space and here we will discover this is where she is hiding from everyone except Xavier and Magneto. We are introduced to the “Quiet Council of Krakoa” with members consisting of Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, Exodus, Mystique, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawer, yet we are still missing someone who will be the “Red King.” There are supports as well with Cypher and Krakoa itself and “Great Captains” of Cyclops, Gorgon, Bishop, and Magik. The council first meets to decide what to do about Sabretooth and they agree to banish him to the depths of Krakoa. The three laws are established: Make More Mutants, Murder No Man, Respect This Sacred Land. Once the Council is done we see all the Mutants celebrating and just living in peace…which is great for them as they are usually “hated and feared.” We do see Apocalypse sitting along and then Magneto and Xavier looking onward.
Critique: Great ending to this series, but of course this is not the end of the tale. I found the Council to be something of intrigue as some of the members are distasteful Mutants, but this is also interesting as checks and balances. I like the Great Captains and am happy that Cyclops is the Captain Commander. I wonder how the seasons will play out with the Council? What is Apocalypse planning as he sits alone? Will this make the Mutants not the strongest after all? Beautiful issue as always from Pepe Larraz; I’m so glad he is on X-Men and I hope to see his works later on in the Dawn of X-Men.
Synopsis: Powers of X #6 is significant not only because it is the final issue in Hickman’s HOX/POX magnum opus, but it further expounds on what we learn from the very first issue in POX #1; we learn that the mutants always lose. This is told through the experience of Moira who is revealed to be living her sixth life in the Year One Thousand timeline. As the evolved humans are about to be absorbed into the Phalanx, one of the humans seeking ascension reveals this plan to Moira and Wolverine (who is still alive and with Moira in the mutant preservation habitat). Moira basically confirms that mutants always lose because humans do whatever is necessary to win every time, whether it means evolving alongside machines or becoming something even deadlier. So, she has Wolverine kill her (just like in POX #3) and her sixth life ends. This experience radicalizes her and adds so much more intrigue into what her true motivations are. We are then taken to a scene where Moira is speaking with Xavier and Magneto as they are preparing for the festivities on Krakoa (the same events during House of X #6). We see that Xavier and Magneto have taken advantage of Moira as much as she has them. They are no longer listening to her input or her worries about constant failure. They have a strong belief that what they are doing is infallible, and the issue ends with them challenging anyone who doesn’t like the mutant’s new status quo to just try and stop them.
Critique: Powers of X #6 is definitely a stand out issue because it states what we see in all the future timelines in Powers of X #1; we see that the mutants always lose. Today’s victory is meaningless in the long scheme of things. Whether it is killer sentinels or ascension with the Phalanx, mutants don’t stay at the top for long.The art is wonderful. The characters are given additional dimensions due to their plotting. And the fact that Xavier and Magneto have stopped listening to Moira is concerning, but exciting. Like in House of X #6, we see the mutants triumphant, but this issue muddies the implication by basically asking, but at what cost and for how long? Overall, this is a satisfying conclusion in that it brings up enough dissent and ominous plot points that we should get an exciting and riveting new status quo for the X-Men moving forward. The X-Men have successfully won the day; however, as we have seen in the Powers of X storyline, winning the day is nothing when there are multiple timelines and future events that can make the X-Men’s prosperous today a living nightmare tomorrow. Hickman truly created an exciting work of art with this series.
Reactions to HoX/PoX: Overall, I can say that reading through both the House of X and Powers of X issues has been a cathartic and enjoyable experience. We get to participate in some of the best storytelling being told today, and Jonathan Hickman writes his characters with respect and excitement. It feels exciting to be an X-Men fan again because we get engaging and riveting narratives. I like how Powers of X serves as complementary reading alongside House of X’s main narrative. We get to see the background and motivations for the things that Xavier does in House of X. Both series really complement one another really well, and it all feels important.
Let us talk about the new dawn…so what are you expecting from the new series that will be launching after HoX/PoX? With X-Men, Excalibur, New Mutants, Marauders, Fallen Angels, and X-Force continuing the story of the Mutants which and how many will you be continuing on with? Has your favorite Mutant gotten a good spotlight yet? Hickman has let it be known that there will be more books that will talk about the resurrections and a focus on Moira as well. Check us out on social media and let us know your thoughts and as always remember to…GEEK OUT!