31st Jul2019

‘House of X #1 (Directors Cut)’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jonathan Hickman | Art by Pepe Larraz | Published by Marvel Comics


Once upon a time I loved the X-Men. Hell, we all did. Easy to forget now, but for a period in the early 1980’s to early 1990’s you could forget The Avengers, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Cap, it was all about Wolverine and the X-Men. You had Byrne and Claremont’s groundbreaking run, then Claremont with a fistful of top artists like Jim Lee. Seemingly the Sun could never set on Professor X and his students. But it did, and we had many years of convoluted continuity, the invention of new but lacklustre mutants, the ‘no more mutants’ moment and more. Sure there were a few bright spots. I loved Joss Wheedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, and Grant Morrison’s, well, Grant Morrison’s run. But these were exceptions. I guess a reboot, or re-set was always in the works if The X-Men were to reclaim their throne. All that was needed was the right guiding hand.

Marvel felt Jonathan Hickman was their man, and from a neutral’s point of view, that seemed a good shout. Hickman’s stuff is always interesting, if not always the elite level both he and Marvel seem to think. Hickman’s price? the cancellation of the entire X-Men line, and a fresh launch with this book and mini-series, then other titles to spin out from that point. Personally, I’m fine with this, as I’ve not picked up an X book in years, with a few exceptions like Avengers vs. X-Men which was…ok. So, I’m looking at this book and characters from a completely fresh perspective, with little knowledge of their last few years. I decided to go all in by picking up the Directors Cut edition as well, which has the entire first issue script by Hickman reproduced, as well as all the variant covers and other goodies. So let’s see if Hickman does indeed have game.

Hickman clearly wants you engaged from the off, as the first few places see X-men emerging from pods, encouraged out seemingly by Professor X, but not a familiar Charles Xavier. We also flash back to flowers being planted on Krakoa, in Westchester, on the Moon, on Mars, The Savage Land, Washington, and Jerusalem. Well, I’m both confused and curious. It seems Professor X wants the world to recognize his newly formed state, and in return he will give the world access to three incredible drugs that will benefit mankind. Delegates of the major powers come to visit, to be greeted by Charles representative, Magneto. Yep, that Magneto. Now I’m really confused.

It seems that Krakoa is a safe haven for mutants as it will only allow mutants to set foot on it. There is a portal linking Krakoa with the Westchester School, and the students will now live for their own safety on Krakoa. Jean Grey, Sage, and Cypher are all shown helping out. Meanwhile, other groups are preparing for some future showdown with Xavier as we see a giant Sentinel head in space, a super cool visual, and a fun showdown between Damage Control (Mystique, Sabretooth, and Toad) and the Fantastic Four, well Ben and Johnny anyway. Back to Krakoa, and something’s not quite right here. Magneto reveals Charles has overseen a unique mutant language, with the intent to create a distinct culture, and is giving the people of Earth a chance as a show of generosity as the mutants could just take it all if they wished. This does not sound like, or look like, the Charles Xavier we know. And what’s with the flowers?

Reed and Sue also turn up to help capture Sabretooth, just as Cyclops arrives. He demands they release Creed back to them, as a mutant, which reed politely, but firmly, declines. Things get tense, but Scott backs down. For now. Back at the Magneto meeting, things have gone bad as the representatives aren’t who they claim to be, and a mutant has been mind reading them from the start. As Magneto says at the end, ‘you have new gods now’. Wow. This was very dense, with a lot to digest, but superbly done and brilliantly written and drawn. It felt both familiar and new, with familiar things seen at a slightly askew angle. A jolly Wolverine playing with children? A Professor X with a seemingly permanently worn Cerebro helmet of sorts that masks his face (conveniently). X-Men going along with a seemingly newly born fascist state. Hickman hit all the right notes for me.

Text scattered throughout the story also allows an insight into the position seemingly taken by the X-Men, and the unlikely alliance between Magneto and Charles. For my money, it’s not really Charles, the flowers are the key to it all, and a more familiar X-men will appear by series end. Superb writing, lovely art that really manages to keep the huge amount of text and world building from overwhelming it, and the two just working well together.

Believe the hype. It’s that good.

***** 5/5


Comments are closed.