There’s is quite amount of personal X-Men-baggage preamble that I won’t have to repeat because I can point you to where I sounded off recently when I wrote about the joy of reading Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design.
So are the X-Men.
At least for one issue Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz have me excited to be back in my most natural habitat, namely loving and looking forward to X-Men.
We live in times that you have to come strong to get me off of my Tillie Walden and Inio Asano comics and House of X #1 was near perfect when you consider it is one gigantic info dump from beginning to end. It is no less glorious for it.
Pepe Larraz provided the show to Hickman’s tell and the enjoyment of it is a completely different vibe to what Grand Design offered. One is a greatest hits retelling remixed and House of X is that new hot song that older fans are coming out to to gravitate to and champion.
I will leave the summaries people call comic book reviews to others, you can and should read House of X #1 yourself, and instead will use this blog for its intended purpose, namely sharing my personal experience with story, no matter how micro, macro, or both.
I was engaged with every story thread and the art was measured and moody, pacing Hickman’s aforementioned dump to near perfection. Even as I was locked into a scene I was never put off by leaving it to get back to another plot I was as invested in.
Pepe often used entrances and exits to move the narrative, to begin, end, and pause chapters so when my eyes moved it felt like was being transported with the characters and I especially appreciated what felt like a particular extra care he gave to Scott and Jean visually.
The art is great throughout but these two seemed highlighted when they were not, a shine that feels right because what’s happening would mean most to them, among the original inheritors of Xavier’s teachings.
So let me get into what struck me as I entered the House of X.
Krakoa is a significant element in this issue both from a narrative perspective and a thematic one. On one hand it’s a powerful representation of “home” that throughout the history of the X-Men has been something they have been looking for, if not directly and by name it’s an ever present aspect of the mutant existence.
Home for many people comes with the built in idea of being around loved ones and safety. For many minority groups in our own world that is not true as violations often occur to them even when in their own homes, minding their own business, just living.
Krakoa adds the extra-for-them dimension of security, what seems to be an unassailable nation-state where mutants can spend moments in their lives NOT vigilant. Where a Wolverine can tumble around playing with children and not have to be the best at what he does every second of his life.
This changes everything.
The aspect of assimilation is no longer a request, indeed it is no longer an offer. Separate and decidedly not equal. Gods walk among you and Hickman won’t even let you speak their language anymore.
While being the aforementioned unassailable home it is also an unassailable base of operations, a larger scale Azath House, that offers the ability to not have to react rashly, and every move of yours can be calculated and long term – no longer on course for a dictated any number of apocalyptical future past already written. It is both a resort to mutant-kind and constant promise of a threat to anyone else. Not all actions have to be reactionary anymore.
I can relate to this in some way. Along with being an Omega level mutant (don’t tell anyone) I also have residence in no less than three islands. Beyond loving the natural beauty, enjoying being around people who are where they want to be, and being a beach bum around impossibly beautiful people, over the years I’ve identified something deeper in the coincidence of my own choice of habitat.
Namely, I like to be the fuck away from shitty people.
We’re still on the same planet but not really, we can speak using similar words but we don’t understand each other, and in a world that gets smaller & smaller due to the gift of technology I have an appreciation of being somewhere you’re not going to be w/o great cost to you, something even more valuable now as words thrown at each other online have never been more cheap.
We’ve fought each for too many issues, too many events, too many crossovers. From now on the only people invited are your very best, your Franklin Richards. One of us.
Like the Mutants I’m just tired of talking to you about things like basic human rights and ideals that we should all understand so I’m just going somewhere that’s beautiful, not in a small part because you’re not there. They are tired of fighting for a piece and peace that can never truly be theirs and instead of continuing this battle they set themselves up in the best gated community conceivable.
I so feel that.
They filtered humanity out and you’re not good enough to share in their home.
Because your behavior for too long. Hell you can’t even go on instagram and dream as you shuffle thru pics of Krakoa. You will only interact and see them on their terms. I relate to and practice this a lot in my own life – get away from hateful people and be in places where people are happy. it is possible. It’s quite wonderful.
It may be in practice of an isolationism that never works but I just don’t need or want you. And if I do I’ll summon you to one of my sweet habitat lobbies and have Magneto be condescending to you in his best Gandalf the White outfit while telling you what it is I want from you.
Beyond that Krakoa is just awesome and we all like cool bases. I’m over here still not over how cool the Guardians of the Galaxy are staying in Knowhere.
The organic aspect of it all shouldn’t be overlooked either. Hickman chooses flowers to be the source or conduit for much of Krakoa’s amenities. Krakoa is a base and home yes but it’s also Eden.
Anyway, get away from me flatscans!
Moving on to a much smaller part of the issue and speaking of Omega level mutants, Exodus was on a list of them.
I just love this character and always have. I don’t know if it was simply because he was introduced with that sweet 90s Joe Quesada design (seen above) during Fatal Attractions or what but I gravitated to Exodus immediately. He’s not Japanese or even asian but I claimed him for us instantly because he just had a fresh outfit and design like you’d see in a manga. Needless to say I’m all in just when his name is in print in a comic.
The third and final highlight for me was Cyclops.
Hickman sets up a confrontation with him and the Fantastic Four. The leader of the OG X-Men and the first Family of Marvel and the rapport they have is exactly what you’d hope you’d expect but realize it is so only after Hickman shows you how it’s done. How good it could be.
These are friends, former comrades in arms, their history is the Marvel history. Scott is congenial, disarming, and confident. Not just in his relationships with these 4 avatars of humanity but now something else. He tells them they can keep Sabertooth but with the unspoken “for now” cast with the pretense of an eventuality that can’t be stopped.
He is on the winning team. He has a nation behind him and in a world and lifetime where it took a nation of billions to hold them back the mutants, especially Scott, the proposed inheritor and chosen leader of Xavier’s original dream, just isn’t having it any more.
The world’s weight isn’t on his shoulders anymore, indeed the world is their oyster. The gloves are off and for now they extend the hand with a confidence of gods walking among men. With a friendly flippancy while walking away Iceberg Slim lets Marvel’s first family know that their child is welcome to join the mutants in their new home. He is worthy.
I said Krakoa was like Eden earlier and I may have been wrong. It may be heaven.