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Oct 3

House of X #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post is full of spoilers, and page numbers are according to the digital edition. This is the final issue of House of X, but I’ll be reviewing it and Powers of X together once both are complete, since they’re functionally a single book.

COVER (PAGE 1): Storm, Emma Frost and Exodus, on Krakoa, with Storm apparently addressing an audience. There are more people watching from the balconies in the background.

PAGE 2: The epigraph simply has Professor X proclaiming an imperfect but good start. That applies not just to his plan with Krakoa, but to the Hickman run in general – House of X is more of an extended prologue to establish the Krakoan status quo than it is a story in itself. The line comes from the Council meeting scene later in the issue.

PAGES 3-7: One month ago, Professor X dons the Cerebro helmet and makes his speech to humankind – the one that he gave shortly before issue #1.

Krakoa. Krakoa is floating, not connected to the sea bed. That would explain how it could have been hurled into space at the end of Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), and indeed how it could have got back. On the underside – with inverted gravity – is “Moira’s No-Space”, previously mentioned in Powers of X #5 as a location for one of Xavier’s backups of mutant data. Issue #1 established that a “No-Space” is also beyond the consciousness of Krakoa itself. There’s an obvious question here: why is all this being hidden? Note, by the way, that Xavier’s speech refers to “the island of Krakoa”. We’ll come back to that.

Professor X. Even though he starts the scene without his Cerebro helmet, every panel is framed so that we only see the lower part of his face or the back of his head – there’s no clear view of the parts of his face that are normally obscured by the helmet. But Magneto and Moira are looking right at him and seem to see nothing wrong. This doesn’t seem to be the first time that Xavier puts on the helmet – he was already wearing it when he went to recruit Emma in Powers of X #5. (And that scene must come first, because it takes place before Xavier’s pharmaceuticals have become public knowledge.)

Xavier’s speech. Xavier claims that the drugs “have been discovered by mutant scientists.” Who? Does he mean Moira and Sinister (who seems to be treated as a mutant for most purposes in this series)? Xavier also claims that his drugs extend life, cure mental illness, and prevent “most common maladies”, including “most cancers”. The “most” there is probably a nod to not breaking the rest of the Marvel Universe too badly while this storyline is running, but you have to figure that something is going to go wrong with these drugs in the end – partly because profound social changes in the MU tend not to stick, but partly because they’re just too odd to be a mere background point.

Xavier claims that he has realised that his dream of harmony between humans and mutants was a lie, with humans standing by and doing nothing to help when mutants were under attack. While he alludes to the Genoshan genocide, he stops short of actually accusing humans of committing it (rightly, since that was Cassandra Nova). Oddly, he refers to the dead mutants as “our children” rather than “us”, which is a theme that keeps coming up in this series. Broadly, Xavier is trying to portray himself here as someone who has abandoned a dream of integration instead of separation.

But remember, in Powers of X #5, Namor refused to join Xavier because he didn’t believe that Xavier really meant all this. And there are plenty of reasons to be deeply sceptical before taking Xavier’s speech at face value. For a start, he claims that he’s supplying drugs to humans on condition that humans recognise Krakoan sovereignty and grant amnesty to all mutants. But in Powers of X #5, he tasked Emma with delivering the drugs to countries that rejected the deal – so he seems to be lying about the conditions. Xavier frames his amnesty as giving convicted mutant criminals a chance to “overcome man’s bias against mutants”. But just look at what actually happens to Sabretooth – a supposed beneficiary of the amnesty – later in the issue. And Xavier claims that mutants are “the future” and “an evolutionary inevitability”. But he knows from Moira that in her previous lives, what actually happened is that the machines inevitably rose to prominence. By all appearances, then, Namor is right – this is an act, at least in part.

Here’s another point. In House of X #1, the epigraph credited Xavier with “Humans of the planet Earth. While you slept, the world changed.” (That’s actually the first and last sentences of his speech here.) In Powers of X #1, Percival’s dying words were “There was a dream. Our dreams are the same. While you slept, the world changed.” That appeared at the time to be an expansion of Xavier’s speech. But we now know that Percival actually comes from Moira’s previous life – and the two sentences about dreams being the same don’t feature in this version of Xavier’s speech at all.

PAGE 8. The credits. The story title listed here is “I Am Not Ashamed”, which would tend to suggest a mutant-pride angle. But in the Krakoan-text trailer pages, the title of this issue was given as “I Am Not Ashamed Of What I Do”, which is slightly different. The small print in the bottom right reads “The House of Xavier – The Three Laws.”

PAGES 9-10. Data pages on the Quiet Council of Krakoa. This is a repeat of what we saw in Powers of X #5, with most of the redactions removed and some added material about the “great captains”. Frankly, it’s not clear with hindsight what the point was of redacting all this so heavily in Powers of X #5, except to delay the reveal.

  • The “autumn” Council members are Professor X, Magneto and Apocalypse – presumably linked by their grand visions.
  • The “winter” group are Mister Sinister, Exodus and Mystique – all villains. Sinister has obvious practical importance to the plan, and Mystique may or may not have connections with Moira (via any clues that Destiny left for her). Exodus is a strange inclusion, since he’s traditionally been a rather slavish follower of Magneto who only takes a leadership role when Magneto is unavailable; perhaps that’s the point, that he’s a reliable vote who’s bound to side with Magneto.
  • “Spring” is Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and a still-redacted Red King, all presumably representing Krakoa’s trading wing.
  • “Summer” is the traditional X-Men, represented by Storm, Jean Grey and – a little surprisingly – Nightcrawler.

The great captains. Basically the field leaders who are the next level down, it seems.

  • Cyclops. The “captain commander” and first among equals – but isn’t it a little odd that he didn’t make the cut for the Council? In favour of Nightcrawler…?
  • Gorgon. The Hand leader who’s had a couple of cameos before now, but has little previous history with the X-Men outside a few Wolverine stories.
  • Bishop. A veteran X-Man dating back to the early 90s – and not previously mentioned by Hickman. Bishop is a time traveller from a possible future generally along the lines of the Days of Futures Past, although in his world there was a successful rebellion which ended the Sentinel domination. How that fits into the inevitable robot ascension remains to be seen, but it’s striking that Hickman has kept the X-Men’s time travellers (who are not in short supply) at bay up till now.
  • Magik. Another established X-Man and former New Mutant, with bonus sorcery which might come in handy with all those comments about Inferno we had in Powers of X #4. Magik can also time travel, though it doesn’t come up that often.

PAGES 11-17. “Now.” This seems to be the first meeting of the Quiet Council, who decide on some laws and then punish Sabretooth for killing people during the raid in issue #1. The mysterious Red King is absent, and nobody comments on the empty chair. Everyone speaks normally in the meeting, so it’s not clear why it’s the “Quiet Council”.

The council chamber. The seats are in four groups of three (representing the four seasons), and the centre has the new “X” logo used on the covers of this series – the first time we’ve seen it in a story. Krakoa is in the background as a large tree trunk with a face, and Cypher perches puck-like in his branches, seemingly to act as interpreter – though all his actual contributions here seem to be on his own initiative. Xavier identifies the X-Men group as “family”, the Hellfire Club as “friends”, and the three blatant supervillains as “allies”, which is very tactful.

The laws. The Council proceed to debate what the basic laws of Krakoa should be. The discussion comes up with a grand total of three laws, which is not what you’d call a functioning legal system, and has more in common with religious guidance such as the Ten Commandments. These are: (1) Make more mutants; (2) Murder no man; and (3) Respect this sacred land.

The second law of mutantdom. This is the first one to be discussed, despite the numbering it gets later. In the discussion, the ban is specifically on taking a human life, on the logic that humans can’t come back, while mutants (now) can. The question of exceptions for self defence and so forth is acknowledged and kicked into the long grass; you get the sense that Magneto, at least, is willing to take a very flexible approach to what this law was “meant to” cover, should the point ever arise. Apocalypse seems to be suggesting that a bit of mutant-on-mutant violence should be encouraged so that they can continue to test their fitness. (His other argument – “How can it be a crime to kill someone who cannot be killed?” – is hopelessly bad. The answer is “because it’s still an assault.”)

Economic laws. Raised by Sebastian Shaw, and parked as a bit difficult for discussion. Cypher raises the understandable objection that people can’t own bits of Krakoa because it’s a person, and Storm seems to suggest mutants may still keep their actual homes outside Krakoa if they prefer it that way. Interestingly, Cypher claims that Krakoa is “fauna, not flora” – an animal rather than a sentient plant.

The third law of mutantdom. Exodus’s main contribution to the discussion – other than refusing point blank to talk to Sinister – is to propose that Krakoa be treated as sacred. Nobody disagrees with this… everyone seems quite on board with the cult-like aspects of the whole thing.

The first law of mutantdom. Proposed by Nightcrawler in response to Mystique taunting him about his religion – be fruitful and multiply, and all that. (Oddly, Mystique refers to Nightcrawler as if he were the only religious mutant.)

PAGE 18. A data page emblazoned with the three laws of mutantdom (which sounds a bit like Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, but that’s probably coincidence). Note the small print at the bottom of the page: “Krakoa 1, Arakko 0”. In Powers of X #4, we were told that the land of Okkara had been torn into Krakoa and Arakko back in primeval times. Why the laws lead to some kind of scoreline – if indeed that’s what it is – is unclear.

PAGES 19-22. Having decided that Sabretooth broke the laws they literally just made up, the Council sentence him for breaking them – the only discussion being about whether to give him another chance or make an example with him. Now we know why we had the scene with the human kangaroo court in issue #3 – while this is presented to make us more sympathetic to the X-Men, by any reasonable standard it’s far worse. Sabretooth is given no chance to speak or make his case, and then they torture him. And it’s not like they gave him the option of staying in the human jail.

(And, yes, they’re convicting him under a law they’ve just made up – but that’s the least of the issues here, since it’s a law against murder, and Sabretooth knew perfectly well that that was against the local law when he committed the crime.)

Sabretooth’s sentence is to be placed in stasis inside Krakoa, “alive but immobile, aware but unable to act on it”, and “forever.” Xavier describes this as exile, but by any reasonable standards it’s torture. Xavier claims that this is the only option because they don’t tolerate prisons on Krakoa, and if they executed him then they’d just have to bring him back. But neither reason holds water – they don’t have to bring him back if he dies. And what could possibly be the ethical objection to prisons if this is the alternative? Is this going to happen to everyone who commits a crime on Krakoa? What’s the punishment for not respecting the sacred land?

Xavier does note that perhaps one day Sabretooth will have a chance to redeem himself, so you have to wonder if we’re being told the whole story about where he’s going. Is he actually being packed off to Moira?

None of the Council seem to be surprised by this turn of events, but note their individual reactions. Magneto, Apocalypse, Exodus, Storm and Emma play it fairly straight. Sinister thinks it’s funny. Shaw is barely interested. Nightcrawler and Jean are slightly hesitant, but they vote for it anyway. The one person in the room who seems to have a real problem with it is… Mystique.

Sabretooth is dragged through a hole which opens up in the floor where the X-Men logo is. It’s battered and cracked when it heals over. This isn’t subtle. Yes, Xavier gives us a speech about having to make difficult decisions, but, er…

PAGES 23-27. From that, we go straight into a giant public party for the Krakoans, fireworks and all. Xavier again refers to the mutants as “millions of children”, and suggests that the Council are going to be taking the awful decisions that keep them awake at night, so that everyone else on Krakoa can live happy lives. While we end on a great celebration and a new dawn, there are plenty of signals that this won’t end well.

Recognisable among the crowd – and thus established to be on Krakoa, if we haven’t seen them before – are the following:

  • There’s someone with big feathered wings on page 23. This can’t be Warren, since he’s in Archangel form with metal wings when we see him on page 25. It might be Icarus, Cannonball’s brother, who was killed in New X-Men #27 (2006).
  • The Five dancing together.
  • Banshee, clearly seen as back to his old self and cured of his zombie-ish appearance. Did Elixir sort him out, or was he restored from back-up?
  • Siryn, his daughter.
  • Dazzler, entertaining the crowd. Dazzler’s powers work by converting sound to light, so the idea is that Siryn is screaming at Dazzler to boost her light show.
  • Archangel, Iceman and Beast. Note that the rebooted Warren is back in Archangel form, despite that being the result of Apocalypse’s experiments and not his natural mutant powers. Curious.
  • Exodus, telling stories to children around the campfire. If you look closely, Sinister is lurking in the background, watching.
  • Marvel Girl, Cyclops and Wolverine – traditionally something of a romantic triangle, with Cyclops and Wolverine as rivals, but all friends here.
  • Anole, Surge, Gentle, Pixie, Broo, Synch and Skin. Mostly assorted trainees of varying generations, though Gentle and Pixie have been on the main team for brief stints. Synch died in Generation X #70 (2000) and Skin in Uncanny X-Men #423 (2003), so both have evidently been restored from back-up.
  • Gorgon, offered a drink by Wolverine – a remarkable gesture given that Gorgon was the bad guy who turned Wolverine into a Hand agent in Mark Millar’s “Enemy of the State” storyline from Wolverine (2004-5). In a similar gesture of reconciliation, Jean offers a drink to Emma Frost, who had an affair with her husband in the Grant Morrison run. All of this is a little bit Too Good To Be True.
  • Jubilee and a woman in glasses who looks to be Boom-Boom.
  • Shark-Girl, just visible as a silhouette behind Emma in one panel.
  • Havok, Cyclops’s brother, who died in the final issue of Matthew Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men and has been restored from back-up almost immediately. (If you were thinking that the X-Men who died on the space station might not have been the originals… well, that argument isn’t available with Havok.)
  • Apocalypse sits off to one side and watches.

PAGES 28-29. Data pages on Krakoa… both of them. One in the Atlantic, the other in the Pacific. Note that Xavier’s telepathic speech to the world only referred to “the island”, so something’s up here. The small print on page 28 says “Krakoa Spawn Atlantic” and “Krakoa Spawn World”, which sounds a bit worrying. The Atlantic island has only three features shown: a transit hub, “the Pointe” (which was mentioned in Powers of X #5 as one of Xavier’s back-up database locations) and a training location called the Danger Island (the latest incarnation of the Danger Room).

The Pacific island map has grown some new points since we last saw it in issue #1. The first twelve items on the key are the same. Five new items have been added:

  • Bar Sinister, which must be Sinister’s home.
  • Hellfire Bay, presumably the base of the Hellfire Trading Company.
  • The Red Keep, presumably something to do with this Red King guy.
  • “Blackstone”, which means nothing to me.
  • The White Palace, which sounds like Emma.

Item 18 on the map is off in the sea, and is left blank in the index. It forms part of an area of sea marked off with a dotted line; it’s not clear yet what that refers to, but the line was on the issue #1 map too.

PAGE 30. The closing quote from Magneto, drawn from the party scene: “Just look at what we have made.”

PAGES 31-32. The reading order, and the single train for Powers of X #6, which reads “NEXT: HOUSE OF X.”

Bring on the comments

  1. Job says:


    “This particular thread? It just says “House of X #6”, not “House of X #6 and Powers of X #6””

    Oh gosh, you’re right. I’ll go back and edit my previous comments now.

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