The following is a video from my YouTube Channel, Jack’s World. As someone who has followed and praised X-Men comics for years, I wanted to make a video that articulated just how important the recent House of X/Powers of X story by Jonathan Hickman is in the history of the franchise. I tried to do it justice while trying not too hard to geek out. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Uncanny X-men
Happiness and joy often come in small doses, but like good investments, they compound quickly. I learned that early in life when I discovered how much more joy I got from a $3 comic than I did by trying to be the most popular kid in school.
Don’t get me wrong. Having friends is great. Being popular is great. It’s just easier to pay a few bucks for a comic than it is to jump through all the assorted hoops that come with seeking more elaborate forms of happiness. In terms of the simplest things that make me happy, a comic is one of the best bargains out there.
They’re not very expensive. They’re colorful and easy to access. You can even take them with alcohol. Kids and adults alike can appreciate them. Once you find a few series and titles you like, you’ve got a consistent source of joy to look forward to every week. That’s a big part of what makes New Comic Book Day such a delight.
My comic book consumption has changed over the years, but I’ve always found a way to enjoy every Wednesday. Thanks to Comixology, it has never bene easier. In a year like 2020, we need whatever sliver of joy we can get. New Comic Book Day can be part of that effort. To that end, here’s my pull list and picks for the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1
For the past two months, it seems everyone is longing for or agonizing over a sense of normalcy. They look back on the days of being able to go to a movie theater, sit inside a crowded restaurant, or smell someone’s breath while they stand in a crowded subway car. While that last one might not be that fond a memory, it still symbolizes the same idea.
We miss that sense of normal. Even if the concept of “normal” had its problems, as it often does, we miss it. We’ve all spent the last two months enduring extended isolation while watching increasingly grim news surrounding a global pandemic. People don’t agree on much, but they can agree that this abnormal experience sucks.
I’m of the opinion that we can never truly go back to the “normal” we once knew. I’m also of the opinion that “normal” is an overrated concept. At the same time, I long for some aspects of that pre-pandemic world. That’s why the prospect of New Comic Day returning is such a relief.
It’s still not back to full capacity, but it’s getting there. Books that were supposed to come out back in late March are finally starting to hit both comic shops and Comixology. This week marks the first week where all the major comic companies make a concerted effort at returning to normal. I can’t speak for all comic fans, but I’m rooting for them to succeed.
As part of that effort, I’ve assembled a pull list and pick. It’s still too early to call this a return to normal, but I’ll take it.
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
There’s an inescapable law in superhero comics that’s right up there with characters not staying dead or Deadpool being annoying. If you invent a certain technology that can be used by villains, then there’s no uninventing it. You can scrub your computer. You can burn on the schematics. You can even try to mind-wipe everyone you told about it, which is possible in worlds that have telepaths.
There’s no getting around it. Some asshole will find it and use it to inflict harm, suffering, and chaos. That’s a lesson that Forge, and all of Krakoa, learn in “Marauders #10.” For the last several issues, someone with ties to corrupt, mutant-hating Russians has been using power dampening technology to abduct mutants and harass Krakoan exports. It has cost Krakoa money and it may have cost Kitty Pryde her life.
I say “may” because X-Men comics have really twisted the meaning of death and dying after “House of X/Powers of X,” albeit in a very awesome manner. However, Kitty’s status among the living is only secondary. What happened to her is just more motivation for Emma Frost and the rest of the Marauders crew to get back at the Russians who think they can get away with trolling Krakoa.
It’s a serious effort that has serious ramifications for Krakoa’s emerging status among nations. That doesn’t stop writer Gerry Duggan and artist Stefano Caselli from having fun with it. This isn’t some standard clash where the X-Men take down a few evil minions and blow up a few killer robots. There’s some real strategy and cunning employed.
By that, I mean Emma Frost weaponizes her tits in battle.
Yes, that really happened.
Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Naturally, Emma Frost steals the show, but there’s a bigger picture in “Marauders #10” that goes beyond stopping a bunch of renegade Russians. It’s another step in Krakoa’s growing pains as a nation. Mutants have established themselves as a world power. They’ve shown that they have valuable resources to trade.
Naturally, those resources are going to come under attack. Like any nation, Krakoa has to deal with competitors, enemies, and rogue elements from unfriendly nations. When mutant powers are involved, both the threats and the geopolitical implications are compounded. Smaller conflicts are now much bigger in scope.
It doesn’t help that things like power dampening technology and mutant killing robots are still out there in the world. Chances are the schematics are available on the dark web for a few bitcoins. When mutants were just scattered or on the brink of extinction, these dangers were localized. Now, they’re a matter of geopolitics.
That’s the kind of world that the X-Men live in now and “Marauders #10” builds on it. There are still plenty of obstacles for the X-Men and Krakoa to deal with. Some will be harder to overcome than others, as the loss of Kitty Pryde has shown them. However, even if they can’t undo technology like Sentinels and power dampeners, they can still fight through it and thrive.
It’s a testament to both Krakoa’s emerging power and Emma Frost’s uncanny tits.
If you’re a football fan, this week is one of the most bittersweet times of the year. The Super Bowl is over. Even though it was an awesome game with an incredible halftime show that pissed off the right snowflakes, there’s no getting around the truth.
Football season is over.
Assuming you’re not willing to give the XFL a chance, we’re officially in the dead zone of sports. Until March Madness rolls around, there isn’t much to get excited about. If, however, you happen to be a comic fan as well as a sports fan, then you’re perfectly equipped to endure this distressing stretch.
For comic fans, there is no off-season. Every Wednesday is basically game day for us. Not every Wednesday is the Super Bowl, but some are more eventful than others. They may not include an incredible halftime show, but they include Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Jean Grey, and Supergirl fighting armies of monsters and looking good doing it. To me, that’s the next best thing.
These next few months will be difficult for fellow football fans. For my fellow comic fans, though, it’s business as usual. Another week has come and another batch of comics have arrived. As always, and with the help of the fine folks at Comixology, I’m sharing my pull list and my pick of the week.
A new football season may be months away, but new comics are never more than a week. Nuff said!
My Pick of the Week
As the great modern philosopher, William Smith, once said, parents just don’t understand. When we’re little kids, we’re often at the mercy of our parents understanding. When your parents happen to be Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four, that is compounded exponentially. Then, you become a teenager and other things become exponentially complicated.
I’m not just talking about hormones and body hair. Kids clashing with parents is a theme older than any superhero comic and while “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” doesn’t reinvent the concept, it manages to do something uncanny with it.
This book brings to a head an issue that was teased back in “House of X.” Mutants all over the world are gathering on their new homeland, Krakoa. One of those mutants, however, happens to be Franklin Richards. While he’s best known for being Reed and Sue’s first child, he’s also a mutant and an insanely powerful one at that. This is a kid who creates entire universes with the same ease as most kids pop pimples.
While he’s been on the X-Men’s radar, they haven’t really forced the issue. That changes in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” in a major way. Initially, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Terry Dodson has it play out as anyone might expect. A group of mutants come to convince a child’s parents that their child should come with them. Their parents aren’t having it.
When the book begins, you think you know who you should root for in this. However, Zdarsky and Dodson complicate things when they reveal that parents, for all their love and nurturing, don’t always understand. They think they’re doing what they feel is best for their family, but sometimes that becomes an excuse to do questionable things behind their child’s back.
It’s an age-old clash between wanting to protect your child at the risk of driving them away. It’s a clash that plays out in dramatic fashion in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1.” By the end, it’s hard to know who to root for.
In the end, this is Franklin’s story. The X-Men and the Fantastic Four are just along for the ride and it’s already a hell of a ride. Whether you’re a parent or a child, you can find something in “X-Men/Fantastic Four #1” that resonates. It’s one of the most clear-cut picks of 2020 thus far. I’m not sure whether to call it fantastic or uncanny just yet, but so far, it has plenty of both.
There are some people in this world, as well as fictional worlds, who will never be content to let things progress for the better. No amount of mutual benefit, understanding, or sincerity will be enough. They’ll always seek to destroy anything that might change the world they know, even if it’s for the better. They won’t just complain about it on social media, either. They’ll resort to the worst kinds of violence.
These are the people that X-Force deal with. Throughout their history in the X-Men comics, they’ve dealt with the dirty stains of humanity that never wash out, no matter how hard you scrub. They’re the ones tasked with confronting these threats, be they human or mutant, with a level of gratuitous violence that you won’t see outside of “Game of Thrones” reruns.
The need for X-Force, as well as their violent tactics, is one again reaffirmed in “X-Force #4.” At a time when mutants have made genuine progress through Krakoa and a new geopolitical role in the world, they’re still subject to hatred, attacks, and atrocities.
In the first three issues of the series, writer Benjamin Percy demonstrated that, despite having their own nation in the form of a living island and the ability to resurrect dead mutants, they’re still vulnerable.
Charles Xavier got shot. Domino was captured and had half her skin ripped off. The fact that any of this can happen, given all the resources at the X-Men’s disposal, is wake-up call and a reminder as to why X-Force isn’t just necessary. It needs an overhaul.
That overhaul begins to unfold in “X-Force #4” and in the midst of another mysterious attack, no less. While this one didn’t end with anyone getting shot or flayed, it did hit Krakoa in the wallet, which can hurt as much as getting shot. The nature of the attack and who is behind it remains a mystery, but X-Force is put on the front lines.
However, this is not the same X-Force that that Rob Liefeld brought to live during the grunge-fueled heyday of the 1990s. They’re not operating completely in secret as some secret kill-squad that everyone is better off not knowing about. Instead, Percy sets them up to be Krakoa’s version of the CIA, complete with its own Seal Team 6.
It’s somewhat of a shift for what X-Force has historically been in the X-Men comics, but it fits perfectly with the current situation surrounding mutants and Krakoa. Mutants are no longer scattered, isolated, and running from killer robots at least once a week. They have their own nation, language, and emerging culture. Protecting it requires something more organized than a shadowy kill squad.
That means more assistance from those who have traditionally argued against the merits of secret kill squads, such as Beast and Jean Grey. However, after seeing Charles Xavier get shot in the head and Domino get tortured, they’ve become a bit more pragmatic in handling these kinds of threats.
The events of the first three issues caught them off-guard. They try to be much more proactive in “X-Force #4,” investigating the attacks and organizing a response. Naturally, Wolverine is part of that response since many of the threats X-Force deals with require significant stabbing. Now, armed with Krakoan weapons provided by Forge and Kid Omega’s attitude, they’re ready to be a new kind of X-Force.
It may not be the kind of profane, brooding, blood-soaked X-Force we’ve seen in the past, but it feels appropriate for the X-Men’s current situation. Jonathan Hickman set up a very different set of dynamics for the X-Men through “House of X/Powers of X.” Percy just creates a version of X-Force that fits within the context of these dynamics.
Having a team like this doesn’t just feel necessary after the events of the first three issues. It feels personal. These weren’t just angry protests or hate threads on Twitter. Someone managed to attack their home and shoot one of their most powerful figures in the head. However one might feel about X-Force’s violent tactics, there’s no denying that they’re as motivated as they ever were.
For a quality X-Force comic, it’s not enough to just have ample violence and an attitude ripped from mid-90s heavy metal music. There needs to be a greater context to the added violence, preferably one that complements the current status quo of the X-Men comics. With “X-Force #4,” Percy succeeds in creating that context and artist Joshua Cassara gives it the necessary grit.
The overall lineup for X-Force is still somewhat small, but it has plenty of room to grow. After what happens on the final page, it’ll have to for reasons that are as obvious as they are bloody. The threat X-Force has to kill is still somewhat vague. Only a few details have come out thus far, but the only detail that matters is that they can hit Krakoa where it hurts and they’re not inclined to be diplomatic about it.
X-Force has always billed itself as a superhero team that relies on less-than-heroic methods to get the job done. They’re not a team that wears flashy costumes and parades alongside other, more reputable heroes. They do what they do in the shadows and don’t mind incurring some extra bloodstains to do it.
“X-Force #4” starts with something bloody, but ends with something bloodier. Given the nature of the emerging threats they face and the wounds they’ve already incurred, it promises to get even bloodier with future issues. It’s everything you want in an X-Force comic and then some.
Even the cleanest communities need a functioning sewer system. That’s something that even the most wide-eyed, Utopian-seeking idealists understand. Throughout the history of the X-Men comics, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men have had to learn this lesson on many occasions. While they don’t outright abandon the idealism at the heart of Charles Xavier’s dream, they understand that less ideal methods are necessary.
That’s where X-Force comes in. Whereas the X-Men are the public photogenic faces of their heroic exploits, X-Force is the secretive, less scrupulous team that fights the ugly battles that need fighting. They are, in essence, the sewer system of Charles Xavier’s dream. Where heroes and idealism fails, they step in.
It’s a tradition that has gone through many eras, dating back to the X-Men’s heyday in the early 1990s. The threats and the circumstances have changed, but the tactics don’t. Even though the X-Men and the entire mutant race are in the best position they’ve been in since the Clinton Administration, there’s still a need for X-Force.
Writer Benjamin Percy, along with an impressive cast of artists, establishes the extent of that need in “X-Force #1” and does so in an appropriately brutal fashion. Charles Xavier may have set up an ideal environment for mutants to thrive, but that environment is still vulnerable to major threats who don’t stop at throwing killer robots at them.
The nature of these threats are vague, as is often the case with X-Force, but their motivations are clear. The new order that Jonathan Hickman built in “House of X” and “Powers of X” has shaken up the geopolitics of the Marvel universe. Mutants are no longer a disorganized hodgepodge of scared mutants, costumed heroes, and Deadpool. They’re a sovereign nation with valuable resources.
While this has set mutants up to prosper like never before, it also makes them a much bigger target. Instead of hunting mutants in dark alleys, there’s an entire country full of them and not all of them have trained in the Danger Room. It doesn’t take long for a shadowy group of masked mutant-haters to take advantage of that.
Initially, it’s hard to know how serious this threat even is. There have been all sorts of shadowy organizations who wear funny masks and dream of slaughtering every last mutant with a smile. A few have a notable place in the X-Men’s history. However, they’ve never had to face mutants that are this well-organized.
These aren’t just mutant struggling to survive anymore. They have a living island to protect them. They have standing in the international community and they didn’t even need to threaten the planet to get it this time. On top of that, they have powerful psychics, living weapons, and Emma Frost’s sex appeal on their side. How can anyone threaten them?
This is where “X-Force #1” really makes its mark. It doesn’t just set up a new threat for X-Force to combat. It shows that this threat is capable of hitting the X-Men where it hurts. Their elaborate defenses, their legions of powerful mutants, and their emerging place in the international community isn’t enough. They can still be attacked. They can still suffer casualties.
It’s a rude awakening, especially after everything Charles Xavier did to make Krakoa the ultimate haven. It’s also shocking at how successful this attack is. Even those who aren’t traditionally associated with X-Force, such as Jean Grey and Beast, see first-hand how devious their enemies can be.
It’s a harsh reminder that they’re still living in a world that isn’t swayed by their idealism. While some might have their attitudes tempered by diplomacy, life-saving drugs, and Wolverine’s claws, others won’t stop until they’re dancing atop a mountain of mutant corpses.
Those aren’t people that the X-Men can confront through heroic means. This is the kind of challenge that needs X-Force and their less-than-ideal tactics. The last page of “X-Force #1” makes that abundantly clear. The only question is how far are they willing to go in order to respond?
Through its many iterations, X-Force has always had a darker tone to go along with its darker themes. Percy captures that tone perfectly in “X-Force #1.” He crafts a story that isn’t entirely built around X-Force’s harsher tactics and the lines they’re willing to cross. More than anything else, the story reaffirms the need for X-Force.
It lays a foundation that includes characters who are no stranger to X-Force’s methods, such as Wolverine and Domino. It also sets the stage for other characters to play a role, like Jean Grey and Black Tom Cassidy. In other eras, these same characters would oppose the very existence of X-Force or actively fight against them. However, in this new emerging order with Krakoa, they cannot avoid it.
“X-Force #1” has most the defining traits that X-Force comics have always had. What makes it stand out is how it builds those traits around a world in which mutants have never had it better. This is as close as they’ve ever gotten to fully realizing Charles Xavier’s dream, but X-Force is still necessary.
It’s a sobering reminder. You could even argue that it’s a necessary reminder. After what happened on the final page, nobody in X-Force is going to forget that anytime soon.
At their most basic, superhero comics involve extraordinary characters saving the day against extraordinary threats. Whether it’s battling invading aliens, fighting giant robots, or thwarting evil scientists, a simple superhero comic makes the most of this dynamic. To become something better, though, it has to do much more than the basics.
X-Men comics have never relied heavily on the basics. While they’ve fought their share of aliens, killer robots, and mad scientists, that has only ever been a small part of their story. From the early days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to the heyday of Chris Claremont, the X-Men are at their best when they’re more than just superheroes. They’re a family.
They may not be a family in the traditional sense. Then again, part of the X-Men’s defining trait is that they’re not traditional. They’re mutants. They’re outsiders. They’re different, but uncannily so. That’s the spirit that and
They still fight bad guys. They still save the day, living and fighting in a world that can’t resist the urge to slaughter them with killer robots. They also live, love, and cherish one another, as any other family. Theirs just happens to be more uncanny than most.
Hickman affirms that at every turn in
The battle they fight is only a small part of a more intimate story. Just saving the day and further crippling Orchis isn’t enough. The most endearing moments of
That home doesn’t just include his friends and fellow teammates. They include his father, his brothers, and his kids, including ones from dystopian timelines. Given the many complexities and complications surrounding the Summers family, it’s refreshing to see this family come together again. If anything, it’s downright refreshing.
It shows that the X-Men aren’t just about going from battle to battle, saving the day and stopping the next great extinction event. They have lives they wish to build. They have close personal connections they wish to foster. Beyond making them better superheroes, it helps show that they’re still very human at their core.
However, this personal touch doesn’t just apply to the X-Men, Cyclops’ family, or superheroes in general. Even their enemies have a personal stake in this new post-Krakoan world. Just as he did inHickman makes it clear that Orchis aren’t just another generic threat to mutants that rely heavily on killer robots. It’s personal for them too.
Many of the individuals involved in Orchis are still unknowns, but their motivations become much clearer in
It’s a bold new era for the X-Men. Hickman deconstructed and rebuilt the X-Men through “House of X” and “Powers of X.” However, the core components remain the same and as strong as ever. There’s heroics, killer robots, and sweet family moments. It’s a big part of what makes the X-Men so uncanny.
When assessing the greatness of a particular story arc in comics, there are many factors to consider. There’s the quality of the writing, the strength of the characterization, the cohesiveness of the plot, the vibrancy of the artwork, and how it all fits together in terms of the greater narrative. Many comics succeed in some of these areas and are worth reading. Very few manage to succeed in most.
I usually try to avoid spoiling too much of a great story, but I will spoil one thing. “Powers of X #6,” and the overall story arc it capped off, is among those select few. In the history of X-Men comics, Marvel Comics, and superhero comics in general, this is one of those stories that will likely stand out as an example of what’s possible when all the right story elements are in place.
Writer Jonathan Hickman has always been someone with big ideas who builds even bigger stories around them. He starts with a concept. Then, he positions the characters around it in such a way that requires them to evolve in ways that they’ve never dared. From there, the story only gets bigger in terms of scope, scale, and impact.
He did it with the Avengers. He did it with the Fantastic Four. Now, he’s done it again with the X-Men. As a lifelong X-Men fan, who has seen some pretty awful runs and some exceedingly dark times, I cannot overstate how refreshing this story is. I honestly cannot think of a time when an X-Men story arc felt so meaningful and relevant.
I’ve highlighted and praised various issues of House of X and Powers of X before, but “Powers of X #6” faces a unique challenge that many story arcs fail to overcome. It can’t just end the story on a particular note. It has to fill in some lingering plot holes while leaving just enough unfilled for future stories to build on. It’s a difficult balance to strike and one past X-Men story arcs have come up short.
That balance never falters in “Powers of X #6.” It fills in a few key plot holes, most notably the events of Moira MacTaggart’s mysterious sixth life. At the core of this story, and everything that stems from it, is the impact of Moira MacTaggart. It’s not hyperbole to state that she is now the most important character in the X-Men mythos.
Her role doesn’t just involve revealing what worked and didn’t work in terms of mutants trying to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In “Powers of X #6,” she witnesses the ultimate endgame for the human/mutant conflict. She sees the inevitable result of this conflict, regardless of which side she takes.
It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Magneto.
It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Professor Charles Xavier.
It doesn’t even matter if someone swears allegiance to Apocalypse and fights by his side.
The events in “Powers of X #6” establish that none of these conflicting groups, who have been clashing in X-Men comics since the Kennedy Administration, will be vindicated in the long run. Ultimately, they will be defeated, but not by the forces they think.
It’s a point that Hickman makes clearly by building on key moments established in past issues of Powers of X and House of X. Within these moments, harsh truths are dropped and fateful choices are made. They help give the achievements that played out in “House of X #6” even more weight. They also establish the stakes the X-men, and the entire mutant race in general, face moving forward.
These are powerful moments that impact the past, present, and future of the X-Men. Through Moira, the greatest threats facing mutants takes a very different form. It’s not a menacing new Sentinel. It’s not some mutant tyrant, either. It’s not even some bigoted human who thinks interment camps are still a good idea. I won’t spoil the particulars, but c makes clear that the X-Men have an uphill battle.
That’s saying a lot, considering the mutant race is more united than it has ever been. They have a home in Krakoa. Teammates who have been dead or missing for many years are back. They have valuable resources that the world wants. They’ve even won over their greatest enemies, like Apocalypse.
However, even with Moira’s foresight, that still might not be enough.
It might be the greatest achievement of “Powers of X #6.” It is an ending to a bold new beginning for the X-Men, but it also redefines the challenges they face. Through Hickman’s skilled world-building and artist R. B. Silva’s brilliant renderings, it genuinely feels like a true paradigm shift for X-Men comics.
They’re still mutants. They’re still the same superheroes they’ve always been. Their goals haven’t fundamentally changed that much. What has changed are the stakes, the forces opposing them, and their approach to dealing with them. It feels both hopeful and dire at the same time.
Whereas “House of X #6” establishes the promise of a brighter future for mutants, “Powers of X #6” reveals the ultimate barrier to that future. It’s not something they can shoot, blast, stab, or punch. If they want to succeed, then they have to fundamentally change how they go about Charles Xavier’s dream. Moreover, the dream itself needs to evolve.
Years from now, X-Men fans will likely look back on “Powers of X #6” as a defining moment for a narrative that has been unfolding for over 50 years. Those moments are few, far between, and precious. This one in particular may go down as one of the most uncanny.
There’s an unwritten rule in superhero comics. Heroes can enjoy a happy ending every now and then. However, it can only go so far. For every happy ending, there must also be a setup for the next conflict. It also can’t be too happy. The struggle can never stop or slow down. More epic battles must follow. Where else will Marvel and their Disney overlords get ideas for new billion-dollar movies?
Sometimes, the happy endings are as short-lived as they are shallow. This is especially true of X-Men comics. Their struggle is more complicated than fighting hordes of Hydra soldiers or battling invading Chitari armies. Sure, they regularly battle killer robots, but the primary source of their problems come from hatred and fear. There’s only so much they can triumph over that. A typical internet comments section is proof of that.
As a result, any victory the X-Men enjoy seems fleeting. Any semblance of a happy ending or true progress comes off as shallow or temporary. That has been my experience, as a lifelong X-Men fan. Then, “House of X #6” comes along and in the span of a single book, those unwritten are bent, broken, and redefined.
Throughout the X-Men’s colorful history, there have been many defining moments. Unfortunately, most of them often involve tragedy, destruction, and decimation. The moments that involve a triumphant, happy ending that feels like real progress in their struggles are few and far between. That only makes “House of X #6” more precious in the grand scheme of things.
This epic, world-building narrative began with a simple proclamation from Charles Xavier. While humanity slept, the world changed. In “House of X #6,” the sheer breadth of that change becomes clear. Xavier doesn’t just announce to the world that things are different. He explains why and how they got to this critical point.
It’s the kind of speech that leaves you anxious, astonished, concerned, and elated, all at the same time. He doesn’t talk around the truth or rely on alternative facts. He lays out clearly what mutants have been through. Even if you haven’t been following the X-Men comics for the past several decades, you get a clear understanding of how they got to this point.
They’ve been bullied, attacked, ignored, and driven to the brink of extinction more than once. They’ve clashed with other superheroes while being held to a different standard. In a world where so many other people have superpowers and aren’t subject to constant killer robot attacks, mutants are seen as a menace.
Now, they’re not just outcasts fighting for their lives and working towards impossible dreams. They’re a full-fledged society. They now have a home in Krakoa, which is now a full-fledged nation. They have their own culture and identity that they’re willing to fight for. These all feel like changes that are exceedingly overdue. Writer Jonathan Hickman finally put it into words while artist Pepe Larraz gave it vibrant visuals.
It’s a beautiful, cathartic moment that X-Men fans of all kinds can appreciate. On top of this momentous announcement, Hickman adds a few more details to the world-building. Now that mutants have their own nation, they have to go about governing it. It’s the kind of detail that tends to get overlooked in most superhero narratives, but it’s those same details that give depth to this emerging status quo.
The government of Krakoa is not overly complicated, but it’s still comprehensive in its vision. Hickman does not skimp on the details. We even get to see how Krakoa handles difficult issues, such as major laws and what to do with those who break them. It’s not quite like watching a mutant version of C-SPAN, but it gets the point across.
This isn’t just mutants consolidating their power. They’re trying to function as a real nation with real connections in the international community. They’re not going to be some isolated enclave. They actually have something to offer the world with the miracle drugs Krakoa produces. However, they’re not treating them as bargaining chips or gifts. They’re real assets with which to create standing in the world.
It’s uncharted territory for mutants. It also opens the door to a new host of complications, but for once, they don’t involve drawing battle lines between humans and mutants. Xavier still seeks peace, but not through impossible dreams anymore.
This is a huge shift for Charles Xavier’s character. It’s a huge shift for the X-Men, as well. They’re not just a team of mutant superheroes anymore. They’re something greater and “House of X #6” is their way of announcing that to the world.
I won’t spoil the many other ways Hickman and Larraz explore this exciting new world. There are plenty of moments that set the stage for a very different kind of struggle with the X-Men. There are also a few hints that they’ll be dealing with a few threats down the line, some more familiar than others. That’s unavoidable, both for superheroes and blossoming nations.
However, I will spoil one critical detail. “House of X #6” gives the X-Men, mutants, and long-time fans a reason to celebrate. It wasn’t that long ago that the X-Men were in a dire state. Marvel was going out of their way marginalized them in favor of propping up the Inhumans. Major characters were being killed off, left and right. Now, in wake of this issue, those dark days feel like distant memories.
The events of “House of X #6” feel like the end of a long, tumultuous period of tribulations and the beginning of a new era. It’s not all doom and gloom, for once. There’s reason to be happy. There’s reason to grab a beer and celebrate. If the X-Men comics were to end with this issue, it would be a damn good ending.
A new world has been built. A new era has arrived for the X-Men. It’s as satisfying as it is overdue. To X-Men fans of all kinds, get some friends, grab a cold beer, and have a party. Hickman has given us a reason to celebrate.
Certain characters will always be defined by tragedy. This is especially true of superheroes. What happened to Bruce Wayne’s parents was a tragedy. What happened to Peter Parker’s uncle was a tragedy. The impact of that tragedy is what helped send them down the path of being a superhero. It’s a common narrative and it’s powerful on so many levels.
On the other end of that spectrum, though, are characters defined by their choices. They weren’t being mind controlled. They weren’t replaced by clones or blackmailed by a villain. They do what they do out of choice. When you’re Superman, that helps make you an iconic hero and a paragon by which all others are measured. However, when you’re someone like Wolverine, those same choices only complicate his standing as a hero.
To say that Wolverine has made some questionable choices over his long and colorful history would be like saying Deadpool has a quirky sense of humor. Whether he’s Logan or James Howlett, he’s not some tragic figure of circumstance. He makes choices, they screw him over, and then he makes things worse by stabbing things.
There are many stories that demonstrate Wolverine’s questionable decision-making process. “Wolverine Annual #1” is just the latest and writer, Jody Houser, once again demonstrates why Wolverine’s journey to being the best there is at what he does tends to get so messy. On top of that, it’s his own damn fault.
It helps that annual comics are among my favorite types of comics. They’re just simple one-shots that tell a single, self-contained story. For a character like Wolverine, these stories don’t always follow the traditional superhero narrative.
The first act effectively establishes Wolverine in the present time. At this point in his journey, he’s a full-fledged hero. He’s a member of the X-Men. He has close ties to the Avengers. He also occasionally teams-up with Spider-Man and resists the urge to stab him. By most measures, his status as one of Marvel’s top tier heroes is secure.
It’s in the same context that Houser digs a little deeper into Wolverine’s colorful past. Like so many other parts that got bloody, this is one he deeply regrets. As he often tries to do, with varying degrees of success, he confronts it. Things only get messier from there, but in the best possible way.
Houser doesn’t just build a story around Wolverine’s propensity to make bad choices. She also demonstrates what happens when the people around him make as many bad choices as him. It’s not just him that screws up. Sometimes, good people make bad choices and they drift away from being good people.
Throughout his history, Wolverine has always been in danger of becoming that person. His status as a major superhero shows that he avoided it. Not everyone was as lucky and that’s where Celia Stroud comes in.
On the surface, her story has all the traits of the many other women who got romantically involved with Wolverine and suffered because of it. They got together. Things got heated. They decide to leave where they are and build a new life. Then, things get messy. Usually, that means things get bloody and stab-happy as well, but that’s not entirely the case in “Wolverine Annual #1.”
Granted, there is plenty of stabbing and plenty of bloodshed. However, how it plays out is very different from the typical Wolverine-fueled tragedy. He still makes questionable choices, but it’s Celia Stroud’s choices that gives this story such a unique impact. Houser sets up Wolverine to face a similar backlash to his choices, but this time, his choices aren’t the most questionable.
It’s still tragic in a sense, but not in the way most Wolverine fans have come to expect from his stories. Celia Stroud comes off as the kind of character who seems destined to be corrupted by Wolverine. She’s romantically involved with him and history shows that rarely ends well.
Then, her questionable choices are revealed. For once, Wolverine’s judgment isn’t the worst. While there are other forces involved, her choices are still the thing that gives “Wolverine Annual #1” its impact.
I won’t spoil the details. I’ll just say that “Wolverine Annual #1” puts Wolverine in an unfamiliar position. Once again, he tries to confront his past. Once again, it doesn’t give him the closure he seeks. However, it’s not entirely his fault. If anything, he’s the only one who takes responsibility for his choices. For someone with his sordid history, that’s saying something.
When I read the first half of “Wolverine Annual #1,” I thought I knew how things were going to play out. I was pleasantly surprised by how Houser switched things up. It wasn’t overly shocking. It wasn’t one of those cases where a story went out of its way to subvert expectations, as has become so popular in recent years. It just told a different kind of Wolverine story and still found a way to make it work.
Wolverine is never going to be the kind of character who conducts himself like a paragon of virtue. It’s just not his style. He’s also never going to stop making bad choices. It’s just the nature of his personality. That’s a big part of what makes his story and his legacy so compelling.
“Wolverine Annual #1” adds another chapter to that story. It also makes the case that other people in Wolverine’s life are just as capable of making bad choices and getting stabbed with adamantium claws isn’t the only possible consequence.