By Allison Senecal — Jonathan Hickman is making his return to Marvel Comics this July, and when he arrives, he will be taking over the—gasp—X-Men. This news hit a few months back, and yes, when it did, I was a Hickman doubter.
Go ahead and boo me. Get it out of your system. The “Hickman is going back to Marvel” rumors had been around for a long while, so I hand-waved them away at first. I also love the X-office’s current crop of talent. The “HICKMAN 2019” ad that heralded his return just wasn’t enough to get my blood pumping, not like that of his long-time Fantastic Four and Avengers devotees, anyway.
Past Allison was all, “But I like the current titles.” “But I like the current writers.” “But what if we don’t have favorite character overlap the way Leah Williams, Matthew Rosenberg, and I do?” But, but, but, but, but. Current Allison, however, is now excited, Current Allison is downright hyped. Why? Well, let’s start by taking a look at Hickman’s first two X-titles: House of X and Powers of X.
House of X and Powers of X
What are House of X and Powers of X? There are about a thousand theories circling the internet, but we’ll touch on those later. The nitty gritty is that the two 6-issue series will begin releasing July 24th with House of X and then alternate pretty much weekly through October 9th. Two series. Six issues each. Twelve issues total.
Don’t worry, it’s not another Disassembled-esque X-Men event. It’s not. For those twelve weeks, these are the only two X-Men series we’re getting. Rosenberg’s Uncanny run and the Age of X-Man summer event both end the week before House starts. Then the entire X-line relaunches with Hickman writing the flagship ongoing (my bet is on Adjectiveless X-Men) with an as yet unannounced art team, and hand-picked creators (hopefully along the lines of the newer, more diverse folks that have helped make Age of X-Man so dynamic) on four other series. We’re going to get some familiar team concepts, and wild things we’ve never seen before. A second wave of titles is planned for some time next year. Whatever it is, Marvel and Hickman promise it contains the most important moment in X-Men history. Phew.
Hickman himself has said House and Powers are neither time travel nor alternate universe stories, which is refreshing. He and Marvel have been keeping the actual bones of these books under wraps, but the internet is host to a plethora of theories (shocking, right?), all or none of which could be true. Charles Xavier is up to something with…the Life Seed? Krakoa? The M’Kraan Crystal? Mars? The World? Some combination of these? A Tabula Rasa situation a la Uncanny X-Force? Almost definitely a new home-world of some kind for mutants, but who knows. Two amalgam characters feature prominently in the promotional material and covers, but are they really amalgams or are they mutant descendants several generations in the future? Hickman recently tweeted a cryptic set of glyphs (it’s not really a Hickman comic these days without glyphs), and he has said to expect significant backmatter, so I imagine the world-building in play will be intense in typical Hickman fashion. Can we expect the X-Men staking a claim on a sector of space and Game of Thrones-level politicking against the Kree and Shi’ar? Solicits aren’t giving anything up either, and I just hope Marvel have figured out a way to announce the first wave of new titles around SDCC without spoiling House and Powers. Tight schedule, but hey, who likes breathing.
Why All the Hype?
I love two things without fail and those two things are beautiful art and Plans (yes, Plans, capital P), and Hickman sprinted out of the gate with both of those. A hugely breathtaking Mark Brooks promotional piece (see above), teasing decades of X-history? Check. Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva announced on art duties (for House and Powers respectively), with Marte Gracia, an absolute dream, coloring both? Check. To-the-point interviews laying out his basic ideas for the X-Men line? Check, check. He’s won me over with his answers on mutant clothing, the mutant metaphor, and what X-Men team dynamics should feel like. M (Monet St. Croix) is one of his favorite mutants, so honestly, come on in, Mr. Hickman, make yourself at home.
The main covers and interior art teases alone are enough to make any obsessed X-fan pore over them for hours (trust me), and intriguing enough from the outside, I imagine, to earn the X-Men some new readers. And so mysterious. Who is that Dani/Illyana/Kitty mash-up? Why is Emma wearing white again? A Magneto look-a-like wearing green? M AND HUSK? And the colors are all Gracia, so the whole thing just pops. The first wave of variant covers (my favorite was Checchetto’s Cyclops-focused one) wasn’t too shabby either. Add to all this the fabulous new logo designed by Tom Muller, and it’s a design nerd’s fantasy (the hot pink logo picking up the hot pink in the cover!!!)
It looks like perhaps we finally have the refreshing new era some long-time X-fans have wanted, as well as a great new hopping-on point for my friend who keeps bugging me about that. In July, we’ll find out...if we survive all this well-earned hype.
Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.