House of X #2 Review

I hope everyone is reading Hickman’s accompanying book, Powers of X, because the meticulous, millennia length story about the history of mutants is being masterfully crafted and definitely makes us look at each and every page of House of X differently. It’s so exciting to feel the X-Men returning to prominence in the comic book landscape, and this issue removes any doubt that that the top of the food chain is where they will land by the end of this 6 (12 really) book story. On the other side of things, Larraz and Garcia are at the top of their game and blessing readers with artwork that could make Banksy shed a tear at the aesthetic.

Ok, so in the first issue, we see young Charles Xavier meet a woman at the fair. That woman allows Charles to read her mind, and what he finds is exactly what sets us on our current course of radical decisions and ultimatums. We now know that woman was Moira Kinross MacTaggert. In the first pages of issue #2, we discover the ordinary events of Moira’s first life. It’s a cute human like, and it’s not until Hickman jumps into the peculiar details of her subsequent lives of reincarnation and escalation that we grasp the weight of this new world where Moira is an established mutant with powers that shape the future of every living creature. Good gods almighty, when I tell you the intricacies of her lives are mind blowing, history re-writing and absolutely stunning to see, I make no exaggerations. This is arguably, the single most informative issue of X-Men. Period. It also stands to reason that nearly every single X-Men timeline is effectively brought to light and winked at in this 30-page book.
Hickman, I must commend your ambition. I must commend your dedication. I thought issue #1 was a doozy but it’s not until you read this one right here that you understand the gravity of what he’s doing. The ability to establish certain mutants and their powers in order to bring forth this monumental X-Tale is highly impressive, and I see nothing but Eisners on Eisners in the writer’s future.

But before we jump ahead to next year, let’s discuss the artistic tag team of the year (sorry Kris Anka and Matt Wilson), in Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. Most people read issue #1 and were completely content with the flames, but a select few took a gander at Hickman’s Director’s cut. Some wanted to see how his mind works and others were young comic writers gratefully accepting this guest lecture. The directions and details that he provides are so intricate that artists must either love or hate this guy. Luckily for us, Larraz and Gracia are relishing in every panel, because we are taken on a decades long tour of mutant excellence and every year’s events are marvelously crafted. I could touch on so many, but there was one in particular that forced me to pick my jaw up off the floor. Without giving much away, I’ll just say that seeing the most prominent heroes in the Marvel universe join forces to stop Magneto from causing complete and utter annihilation was as rewarding as any one page I’ve ever seen.
House of X #2 is just as good, if not better than its predecessor, which is wild to think. After establishing the idea of Krakoa, then giving away the endgame centuries in the future, Hickman manages to keep things as interesting as they’ve ever been. Like many comic book characters and teams before, X-Men canon has been shredded and re-established. The big difference here; everyone that has given their blood, sweat, and time to the storytelling of mutants previously, have been honored in the most respectful and creative way possible.
With the resounding success of the first issues of both House and Power, this re-brand of the X-Universe is definitely of to a fantastic start. But even after the first issues, has writer Jonathan Hickman’s ambitious plans already peaked?
After the hints and revelations of the previous books, this issue feels like a bit of a step back, if not in story content, then possibly in the pace, with its focus on one of the aforementioned hints; the meeting of Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert in the curiously entitled The Uncanny Life of Moira X.
The issues follows Moira, a character that has been through the ringer before fading into the sunset somewhat. Hickman has changed one aspect in Moira; this time around, she is a mutant with the power of reincarnation. Feeling cursed rather than graced by her power, Moira develops a cure for mutations under the naive assumption that only those who want to take will use it. Into the fray steps Mystique, Destiny and Pyro who convince Moira of the errors of her ways. Armed with the memory of her death, Moira spends several lifetimes, playing Groundhog Day in attempt to provide and live a better life, through a variety of methods.
Jonathan Hickman has been bold enough to take a bit of a pause of sorts, using this issue to build on from the last without actually giving away any of the main story line. My concern after looking at the previous books, was did Hickman have enough in the tank to cover as much as a 12 issue plot. Based on this issue, I needn’t have worried. Moving away from the “big” characters, Hickman has demonstrated some serious world building. In the process he has tried to tie-in the various continuity issues that will no doubt arise as well as re-emphasize the different approaches to the human versus mutant discussion via the three distinct pillars of mutant kind. The dialogue works, as you would expect, giving new life to Moira, and by definition she become something of a lynch pin in this new X-world.
As with the last issue of House, the art is provided by Pepe Larraz. Again the art is awash with heavy lines akin to David Finch in some respect. This can cause slight problems with some of the actions scenes, which may look stronger with finer lines. Overall though, the art is as impressive as the first issue; my only other minor gripe is the re-introduction of the now common place 9 panel page. Have we not moved past this over used storytelling method yet? The overall style of the book is maintained through colorist Marte Gracia and letterer Clayton Cowles. The colors, which are dark hues throughout, may hinder some of Larraz’s line work; it will be interesting to see if this style continues throughout the rest of the run. Cowles’ font is still a tad difficult on the eye but, I do admire both the commitment to the idea of creating something new and the consistency of the work. There are a couple of variant covers for this issue; if you can get hold of it, the Alan Davis one is gorgeous,
The question at the top of review, has Hickman’s plan peaked? Looking at the series to date, the answer has to be a resounding no; Hickman has shown that he is certainly in this for the long haul, and so will countless readers.
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.

Finally, the Jonathan Hickman storytelling that this reviewer has waited for has arrived. Many readers were confused and curious as to the series beginning of HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X. Additionally, many readers had a variety of questions and felt like they were missing something while searching for answers. Now, this issue doesn’t answer all or necessarily any of those questions, but it points fans on a path towards understanding, purpose, and direction. There are very few authors that this reviewer totally trusts to wrap up all loose ends and answer the nagging questions within their series but Hickman is one of them. Furthermore, after reading this insanely creative issue, this reviewer hopes readers will truly hop on board the Hickman Express to a reimagining of the X-Men.
What struck this reviewer the most from this issue was how ingeniously brilliant this issue truly was. Looking at the broad picture of the complicated X-Men landscape, Hickman may have solved all possible storylines, continuities, and explanations about what the current makeup of the mutant Marvel Universe is by simply using Moira’s reincarnation mutant ability. Who thinks of this stuff? A freaking literary wizard… that’s who!

This is so incredibly original and solves multiple problems throughout the Marvel Universe. Additionally, some have speculated online that a face-off between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, which just so happen to be two “families” Hickman has had his hands involved with in the past, is in the works down the line. Point is; a universe that continues to change due to one woman’s reincarnation mutant ability versus a team that created multiverses and multiple universes with ease just screams like an epic, Longview, showdown ready to erupt.
Whether it be joining Xavier, taking down Master Mold, recruiting Apocalypse, or giving birth to Proteus, Hickman has made Moira the linchpin to all of mutant-kind and possibly the Marvel Universe. However, take notice of the last pages with different timelines. Now, this reviewer may be mistaken BUT, Timeline 9 has “House of X” listed in it. However, we are also seeing a 10th Timeline. Therefore, are we in both timelines throughout this ongoing series? Are we witnessing “House of X” through young Xavier reading young Moira’s mind on the bench from issue one and now issue two? If so, is “Powers of X” the future of the 9th Timeline or the 10th?

Hickman has opened up the door to endless possibilities and discussions for X-Men and comic fans to truly geek out by introducing something so simple that doesn’t reboot a franchise, yet somehow leaves the potential for everything to technically still be in continuity. Multiple teams with multiple incarnations of X-Men could have existed with multiple future timelines making everything you’ve ever read in X-Men lore true! Sure, the issue was a big read however explanation was needed to clear up past continuities and heavy X-Men storylines. Could this reviewer be wrong with his speculation and direction? Of course! I’m wrong all the time! However, it’s what makes sense to this fan and makes me feel confident that we will finally get the X-Men we have all wanted and deserved for years.

Hickman will blow your mind this week’s HOUSE OF X #2. Pick this immensely clever issue up, add both series to your pull list if you haven’t already, and get pumped for next week’s POWERS OF X #2. If you weren’t on board, this reviewer hopes you are now! All aboard!!!