Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review: HOUSE OF X #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Jonathan Hickman
ART: Pepe Larraz
COLORS: Marte Gracia
LETTERS: VC's Clayton Cowles
EDITOR: Jordan D. White
EiC: Akria Yoshida a.k.a. “C.B. Cebuski”
COVER: Pepe Larraz with Marte Gracia
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Mark Brooks; Marco Checchetto; John Tyler Christopher; Dave Cockrum with Jesus Aburtov; Mike Huddleston; Joe Madureira with Peter Steigerwald; Phil Noto; Sara Pichelli with Dean White; Humberto Ramos with Edgar Delgado; Skottie Young
56pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (September 2019)

Rated T+

The X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

“The House That Xavier Built”

The X-Men are a Marvel Comics superhero team created by editor Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby.  The X-Men debuted in the comic book, The X-Men #1 (cover dated: September 1963), and the focus of that comic book was Professor Charles Xavier a/k/a “Professor X” and his small circle of students.  Each student had a unique power or ability granted to them because each student was a mutant, and each had a code name.  The students were Scott Summers (Cyclops), Jean Grey (Marvel Girl), Warren Worthington III (Angel), Henry “Hank” McCoy (Beast), and Bobby Drake (Iceman).

From time to time, the X-Men concept is changed in some way via a relaunch or revamp.  The most famous was the debut of the “new X-Men” in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (cover dated: May 1975).  Once consistently among the bestselling comic books in the United States (and often the bestselling comic book), the X-Men have fallen on hard times, especially over the last decade.  Part of the problem is that the editorial powers that be at Marvel Comics have spent much of the last two decades revamping, relaunching, remaking the X-Men, and especially involving the X-Men line of comic books in ultimately pointless title crossover events.

However, fans and readers have hope for this new X-Men thing.  The latest remodeling comes via a pair of six-issue miniseries, House of X and Powers of X, published biweekly on an alternating schedule.  The first to debut is House of X.  It is written by written Jonathan Hickman; drawn by Pepe Larraz; colored by Marte Gracia; and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

House of X #1 (“The House That Xavier Built”) opens on a world that has changed.  In the last half year, Professor Charles Xavier (a.k.a. “Professor X”) has been rolling out his master plan for mutant-kind.  Xavier wants to bring mutants out of the shadow of mankind and into the light once more.  On the island of Krakoa is a home for mutants only, a place where they can be safe.

As a gift to the ever-suspicious humanity, Xavier is offering miracle pharmaceuticals.  However, seeing Armageddon in this new world order, a secret organization of humans has activated the “Orchis protocols.”  Plus, the activities of Sabertooth and Mystique earn the attention of the Fantastic Four, and this issue story also stars Magneto, Cyclops, and Jean Grey to name a few.

“Did you honestly think we were going to sit around and take it forever?” is what Cyclops asks the Invisible Woman during a standoff between the X-Man and the Fantastic Four.  Fight the power, indeed, but this first chapter of House of X is as much about evolution as it is about self-defense.  In Jonathan Hickman's radical revamp of Marvel's X-Men franchise, the mutants of the Marvel Universe have more than a sanctuary; they have a home.  Apparently, they are going to spend their time in their new home being great and striving for greater – socially and scientifically, and that is making humans, especially certain human interests, suspicious and preparing for war.

I don't know where Hickman is taking Marvel's X-Men line, but, in House of X #1, he has created the kind of first issue that makes readers so curious that they just have to come back for more.  At the local comic shop I visit, all issues of House of X and Powers of X have been sellouts.

In this first issue, the art by Pepe Larraz is pretty, but the graphical storytelling does not come across as being as striking and as radical as Hickman's script is.  However, Marte Gracia's coloring is a glorious display, and Clayton Cowles' lettering keeps the shifting ground of House of X #1's story and book design coherent.

Will House of X #1 be a seminal moment in the history of X-Men comic books?  We will see, but it is a must-read for anyone who has ever been a fan of X-Men comic books.

8.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


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