House Of X #2
Jonathan Hickman changes everything about a long-time X-Men character in House Of X #2, by writer Jonathan Hickman, artist Pepe Larraz, colorist Marte Gracia, letterer Clayton Cowles. This issue introduces an amazing retcon to a character that nearly every X-fan knows that changes everything readers thought they knew about them, done breathtakingly.
Summarizing this issue would ruin the surprise of the whole thing. The retcon that Hickman introduces here wholly changes everything in X-Men history, adding the concept of recurrence to the franchise and how one person going through multiple lives can change the course of a world. The character doesn’t go through numerous timelines or alternate Earths but keeps experiencing the prime Earth throughout different lives as they reincarnate.
This is some next-level storytelling. Hickman goes through ten lifetimes with the character showing their reaction to being a mutant and the way the world treats mutants. It’s powerful watching a mainstay that readers have known for years go through so many changes, helping heroes, helping villains, and finally becoming the character readers have known for years. He juxtaposes them with Destiny, the clairvoyant mutant and lover of Mystique. In one of their lives, the character runs afoul of the Brotherhood of Mutants and Destiny tells her that no matter how she reincarnates and what she does, Destiny will know about it and stop her. It’s a little thing like this that makes this story so compelling.
It’s tough to describe how genius this issue is without spoiling it. It’s the kind of thing that only a writer of Hickman’s caliber would think to do. As one reads the issue, there’s this feeling of disbelief throughout, that this character that has been completely different from what one has thought of them for so long. However, that disbelief melts away, and the reader is carried away by Hickman’s story. He tells the whole thing so masterfully, giving readers a full saga of each life in a few pages. It’s bravura storytelling, and it will be a treat to see how Hickman integrates it into his saga, especially seeing as how because of this character, another character knows nine different outcomes to their lives.
Pepe Larraz’s artworks so well in this issue. The standout sequence is when the character is confronted by Mystique and Destiny in their burning laboratory. There is so much emotion in the scene, and readers can feel the emotion. He draws Destiny perfectly. She’s a masked character, so her expression is very impassive, but he’s able to capture a menace about her as she lays her promise to stop the character in any life they have if they try to do what they’ve done in that one. Throughout the book, his art is exemplary.
House Of X #2 is a gamechanger. That’s all that can be said about it. Hickman lays out a masterful retcon that in the hands of a lesser writer would never work; they’d never be able to make the scope of it work as he could. Pepe Larraz’s art makes the whole thing that much grander, as he’s able to execute Hickman’s script in a way that makes that comes to life. There’s something very stirring about this comic. It’s emotional without being emotional if that makes any sense. There are no pulling on the heartstring moments, but there’s still a depth of feeling to the whole thing that resonates with readers. House Of X was already powerful and impressive after its first issue, but this second issue tops that one in every way. It doesn’t add anything apparent to what the first issue brought to the table, but this is Hickman. He’s building something amazing, and this issue is going to be hard to top.