I haven’t been reading comics anywhere near as much as I would have liked over the last two years, falling completely out of the loop on many of the bigger franchises. One of those is X-Men, which I will admit I am completely lost on. However, it was recently announced that Marvel would be bringing back acclaimed writer Jonathan Hickman to pen two new flagship X-Men titles and that got me super stoked to dive back in.
Hickman is the award-winning writer who went from indie breakout with the likes of The Nightly News and East of West to becoming a proper superstar when he rearranged the entire Marvel universe with his modern classic runs on Fantastic Four, Avengers, New Avengers, and the landmark Secret Wars mini-series. After the conclusion of the latter in January 2016, Hickman stepped away from mainstream publishing to focus on smaller projects, but now he’s returning to play with the big guns again. So hell yeah, I was amped to see what he could do with the X-Men line. And what he’s apparently doing is burning it all to the ground.
As previously reported, Marvel will launch the Hickman penned House of X and Powers of X (the latter to be read using the Roman numeral X, so “Powers of Ten”) in July. However, it’s now been revealed that coinciding with this launch will be the cancellation of all other current X-Men books (Uncanny X-Men, Mr. and Mrs. X, X-Force, Age of X-Man). Hickman, who has made his name with crazy big ideas and epic scoped narratives, explained to ComicBook.com that he was the one who pushed Marvel for this clean slate approach instead of the traditional soft relaunch renumbering.
Okay, so, for the most part, I don’t believe incrementalism works in fictional universes, and that, I think, is why almost every big franchise change that occurs has a delineated starting point. I mean, it does work, which is why the industry often abuses it as a sales tactic.
And in the spirit of ‘what works’ and also ‘what the market is used to’, I didn’t feel like just doing a new number one was enough. I also didn’t think that if we were serious about what we were trying to do we should have a mixed message in the market about what an X-book is.
So I argued for cancelling the entire line: Why it would work, why it was a good idea, and most importantly, why it was what we needed to do narratively to return the X-Men to their rightful prominent position in the Marvel Universe.
House of X and Powers of X will be bi-weekly comics, with the two alternating releases. Each will run for six issues and will be the only X-Men books on sale during this three-month period. However, they will then pave the way for a brand line of X-Men books that Hickman will oversee.
We needed to sell the idea that this is what we’re going to be doing for the next few years. So if you want to read X-Men books during the run from late-July through September, House of X and Powers of X are the only new X-books available and everything that’s going to follow is based on them. We wanted to be clear to the fans, to the stores, and just as importantly, to the creators who are going to be staffing these books in the future. We wanted the message to be very clear: This is a whole new era for the X-Men. This is what we’re doing now.
And so, POX and HOX is how we’re starting. It’s a solid plan, I think.
According to Hickman, they will be “launching an entirely new universe of X-books” after that. These will be a combination of “traditional fare”, with some “[carrying] through on ideas presented in HOX and POX”, while others will be “completely new concepts”. The details of the creative teams on these “Wave 1” books will be made public in July at San Diego Comic-Con a week before the launch of HOX, while Hickman and Marvel have already planned “Wave 2” of these new X-Men books to launch in 2020. We do know that Hickman himself will be penning the new ongoing flagship X-book, whatever that may be.
As for HOX and POX (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), Hickman was asked about why make them two bi-weekly six issue series instead of just one 12-issue series. Especially since readers will apparently have to pick up both to get the full story.
Well, there’s a practical element to all this, which is we only wanted one artist on each series. And based on the timeline, that wouldn’t be possible with a higher issue count because we only had, roughly, a nine-month production window. So in my head, one single narrative was never an option.
But honestly, that really never was a concern because, in the same manner as when I was working on FF/F4 and Avengers/New Avengers, the format is basically two stories about one story.
One, House of X, is a story about a pivotal month in the history of the X-men where everything changes for mutants on Earth. And the other, Powers of X, is a story about the history of mutants in the Marvel Universe. It works as a series of reveals and revelations where each issue of HOX that follows POX — and vice versa — makes you reinterpret the issue you had previously read.
And then, obviously, at the end they crash together in a way that propels us forward into a new X-Universe.
According to Hickman, we should expect some “Big X-Men things” from these two series. As he is known to do, he will also be including some sci-fi elements like “basic evolutionary biology, a little genetic homogeny, a lot of contact linguistics or, you know, how mutants bend the Kardashev scale.”
It also sounds like Hickman wants to break away a bit from the “nostalgic feedback loop”, as he calls it, where X-Men stories repeat the same messages about being a metaphor for marginalization. He does say that you can’t really get away from this aspect of X-Men storytelling completely, but “With all that in mind, I think I have a pretty good idea of how to move all of this forward.”
According to the official word from Marvel, Hickman’s House of X will feature Pepe Larraz on art and reportedly focus on Charles Xavier – whose mind is currently in the body of the younger Fantomex – who will unveil “his master plan for mutantkind… one that will bring mutants out of the shadow of mankind and into the light once more.” He will be joined by Magneto, Jean Grey, Wolverine, the recently resurrected Cyclops, all wearing classic costumes for some unknown reason.
As for Powers of X, R.B. Silva will be on art duties, and the series will reveal “the secret past, present, and future of mutantkind, changing the way you look at every X-Men story before and after.” The cover shows characters we don’t know at all, but who appear to be the future progeny of current X-Men (like Colossus and Kitty Pryde’s daughter wielding Magik’s sword, for example). We’ll find out how all of this fits together when both House of X #1 and Powers of X #1 ships in late July.
Last Updated: May 15, 2019