House Of X #1
It's the beginning of a new era for Marvel's Merry Mutants in House Of X #1, by writer Jonathan Hickman, artist Pepe Larraz, colorist Marte Gracia, and letterer Clayton Cowles. Jonathan Hickman returns to Marvel to give the X-Men a much-needed shot in the arm, and he does it masterfully here.
A synopsis of this comic would kind of ruin it, but basically, Professor X has made a new country for mutants on Krakoa, The Living Island. Using flora from the island and a pharmaceutical company he purchased, he creates three drugs that will benefit humankind. The book itself deals with how the rest of the world is dealing with that. An envoy of ambassadors is sent to negotiate with the mutants and a daring mission to get info that brings the ire of the Fantastic Four.
That's the plot in a nutshell, but Hickman adds his signature touches to the whole thing. There's a feeling to this book, one that's reminiscent of Grant Morrison's New X-Men run. Which was the last time mutants really felt like the future of humanity. Even after undoing M-Day in Avengers Vs. X-Men, there was still a feeling that the X-Men were a second class property. In this issue, Hickman does away with all of that.
There's a sense of world-building to the whole issue that makes everything work so well. The recent events of the X books aren't at all mentioned. They are the past and as such, obsolete. Instead, Hickman concentrates on setting up the new status quo. Using infographics (much like his Image book The Nightly News) to give readers the info dumps they need to make sense of events. The X-Men are barely in the book, and it's a strange choice, but an effective one. This book isn't really about them, not yet at least. It's a window into a new world for readers. It sets the sides of the coming conflict, as humanity hasn't been idle while Xavier and company have set up their brave new world. Hickman even pulls a page from his Avengers run, creating a new alphabet for mutants that's reminiscent of the Builder language.
Pepe Larraz's art is crisp and clean throughout. Readers get a few glimpses of Krakoa, and the Krakoa Sanctuaries used as embassies by mutants, and the detail in their organic designs are beautiful. His figure work is impressive and his design of the human's weapon, the Forge, is very cool. His design work throughout is impressive, really. The only minor weakness is his figure work on long shots, but other than that, his art is perfect for this book.
House Of X #1 is pretty much everything X-Men fans could wish for. For most of the last 15 years, Marvel hasn't known what to do with the mutants, marginalizing them and putting them on the back burner. House Of X is a step in the right direction. Putting an A-list writer like Jonathan Hickman, one known for high concept sci-fi and excellent superhero action. He lays out a whole new status quo, one where mutants have the power for once. He's succeeded where so many writers since Grant Morrison have failed, making mutants feel essential and powerful. On the opposite side, he sets up a human threat that has been watching and waiting for mutants to make exactly this kind of move. This is bravura writing and world-building, and it's exactly what the X-franchise has needed. Pepe Larraz's art is perfect, lushly detailed and brimming with great design choices. A few things feel very reminiscent of Hickman's Avengers run, but that run was so good, it doesn't really matter that much. This book represents a perfect starting point for longtime fans, lapsed readers, and new ones. The future looks bright for mutantkind.