House of X / Powers of X – Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz & R.B. Silva (Panini / Marvel)

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This is where everything changes. Where everything you, I and everyone else though we knew about the X-Men gradually begins to disappear and a new paradigm takes hold in order to guide mutant-kind into what will, hopefully, be a shining future. Change is never easy and, more often than not, can be painful. Jonathan Hickman, one of the foremost architects of Marvel’s ever expanding and evolving canon, knows this and in House of X/ Powers of X approaches the story with an assured subtlety and a mind bending array of ideas, all of which he successfully incorporates into the book(s), manages to pull off and alters the course of the ship the X-Men have been travelling on since they first appeared way back in nineteen sixty something or other.

I know that’s a little vague date wise, but until relatively recently, and bar Chris Claremont and Joss Whedon’s runs on the title, I was far from the world’s biggest fan of the progeny of Xavier’s School for the Gifted. The whole X-Men fandom thing is a little new to me, and I’m still getting used to it. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a fan of certain characters, I was and still am, it’s just that the whole never really appealed to me as much as some of it’s component parts did. Hickman though, he might just be the writer that ensures that I stay on the same path as the X-Men from now on, as House of X / Powers of X is a work of thoughtful, intelligent, meticulously planned and written genius.

 I wish I could even begin to attempt to explain the plot without giving away one of the major points on which the overall arc is hinged, but I can’t. I really, really can’t.  Revolving around multiple timelines, reincarnation and numerous lifetimes lived over and over again in an attempt to correct past mistakes that lead to catastrophe, Hickman creates an entirely different history and mythology for the X-Men and all of the major players involved in their destinies, that paints a radically different story and shifts the basis of power that lies at the heart of the team in a most unexpected and incredibly welcome direction.

Built upon layer after layer of interconnected threads, Hickman’s story is deliciously complex and the more time you spend with it, the more it offers and gifts new, exciting and seemingly previously hidden details. While it lingers large on the notion of prejudice, one of the uglier sides of humanity that has long played a significant role in the mutant story, House of X/ Powers of X takes the darker facets of humanity, pushes them to the nth degree and exposes the truth that a silent majority are unwilling to accept. That is, that humanity as a whole, can’t, won’t and refuses to change and would rather cling to hatred than embrace inclusion.

Exploring the nature of sentience, the evolution of intelligence and civilisation as well as the failings of homo sapiens and the importance of a functioning society and the roles that individuals play in its development, House of X / Powers of X offers a portrait of hope and a glimpse of a world that could be so much better if only we wanted it to, and believed it could, be.  Brought into being by the stunning art of Larraz and Silva, Hickman’s story proves that that there’s far more to comics than meets the eye and that change is not only necessary, sometimes it can transform even the most ardent of non-believers into the faithful.  Nothing will ever be the same again…   Tim Cundle

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