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Oct 14

House of X / Powers of X

Posted on Monday, October 14, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

But is it any good?

Pretty much everyone would agree that the X-books needed a shot in the arm. House of X and Powers of X are certainly that. People are talking again, in a way that they haven’t been talking in years. Not only that, they’re talking about the plot. Jonathan Hickman has begun his X-Men run by bringing out the high concept ideas from the off – Moira’s multiple lives, the mutant island of Krakoa, the apparent immortality through back-up copies – and for the most part, people have bought it. In both senses of the word. So, as an opening arc, job done. Nothing in the X-Men has produced this sort of reaction since the start of the Grant Morrison run, back in 2001.

A book like this is inevitably going to divide the audience to some degree. For one thing, it’s very different in tone and focus, which means it’s not necessarily what attracted some readers to the X-books in the first place. And more fundamentally, this is the sort of story where you either trust that it’s heading somewhere, or you don’t – and if you don’t, you won’t be having much fun with this. But so far, for the most part, Hickman seems to have kept people on board.

On a closer inspection, the actual content isn’t quite as radical as it might first seem. Everything Hickman is doing is built from long-established X-Men elements. The mutants’ inevitable subjugation by machines was a standard plot element for decades after “Days of Futures Past”. The mutant island has been done before with both Genosha and Utopia. The X-Men as radicals was done, in however ill-defined a fashion, by Brian Bendis. Professor X has had a cloned body before. The Phalanx are less central to the X-Men mythos but they’ve been firmly part of it for decades.

None of which is to say that Hickman isn’t bringing something new. On the contrary – he’s displaying the existing elements in a new way and bringing something different out of them. That’s what makes it recognisably an X-Men comic, despite the drastic shift of style with the data pages, and the pushing to the margins of most of the familiar characters. That and the art – Pepe Larraz and RB Silva don’t have Hickman’s profile, but they’ve done excellent work on these two books, both in a suitably familiar Marvel-superhero style. If the writing is going to go flying off into weird and unfamiliar places, then the art is able to anchor it in something more recognisable. And if the writing is going to shoot up to a scale where conventional characterisation gets shoved aside, the art can help to keep things more reassuringly human.

But Hickman is the designated auteur for this series… which is interesting in itself, because House of X and Powers of X are not merely the introduction to his X-Men run. They’re the introduction to an entire line of X-books built around the set-up that he establishes here. And most of those, of course, won’t be written by him. We’ve not quite had this before – other X-books reflected what Grant Morrison was doing, in terms of turning the school into a Hogwarts-style academy, but they never seemed to be part of an overall grant plan. The nature of Hickman’s grand plan seems to call for a bit more co-ordination than that.

And these two books are all about the grand plan. I’ve seen it said that these are really just one book, and certainly they’re billed as two series that are one. But at the same time, structurally they are two different parallel narratives. House of X is the present day and the establishment of Krakoa. Powers of X is the bigger picture, with the four time frames ascending through (most) of the issues, setting up the grander mysteries of the story. Yes, they’re part of a whole, but they’re different strands within that whole. One of the oddities of superhero comics is how the need to accommodate spin-off titles led to this sort of parallel structure becoming commonplace.

A better complaint is that House of X and Powers of X aren’t stories. This is true, and not just in the sense that they’re the opening act of a bigger picture. Things happen in House of X – Krakoa is established, the X-Men raid the Orchis Forge and destroy the Mother Mold, and dead heroes are restored to life from their back-up copies – but you’d struggle to say that they happen in a way that feels like a story with a start, middle and end. In fact, the establishment of Krakoa takes place largely off panel. Powers of X is even more scattershot, and makes essentially zero sense if you try to divorce it from the bigger picture.

But neither book is really trying to operate as a conventional story. This is an exercise in establishing a very different new status quo, and setting up some key concepts for the upcoming series, and then carefully arranging a whole armoury on the mantelpiece for future reference. Twelve issues of this would not normally work (and if you don’t buy into Hickman’s bigger picture, it won’t work for you). It holds together by hurling huge ideas at the reader, setting up a puzzle, and building trust that that puzzle is all going to pay off.

Which is very necessary because, well, we’ve all been here before with great mysteries. The thing about mysteries is that while they’re still longing, you can project whatever you want onto them. You can believe that the pay off will be worth it. History is littered with puzzle box stories that fell apart when the reveal had to come, and all the speculation about where it was heading had to be replaced with a rather underwhelming reality. Remember Lost? Remember Bruce Jones’ Hulk? Marvel in the 90s got by for years by stringing out mysteries and convincing readers that it would all pay off in the end – and to be fair, the major plots were usually resolved, but not necessarily in a way that satisfied anyone.

Much of Hickman’s success in these first 12 issues comes from building trust that he absolutely knows where he’s going. There are mini reveals to start the ball rolling, which give the sense that big and unexpected things will happen here, and that it’s all been carefully mapped out. This is a world building exercise, even if it’s being built from pre-existing elements. In recent years it’s often been difficult to try and set up grand continuity-based mysteries because the approach to continuity is so lax that you can never really tell whether discrepancies are plot points, or not meant to matter, or just got overlooked. Hickman somehow manages to avoid that trap, despite his stories containing a bunch of things that seem to clash with established history – as should be obvious from some of the annotations. He does it partly by making clear that he’s intentionally revealing a hidden history, but also by throwing in enough continuity minutiae to send a message to the likes of me that, yes, he knows.

It works for Hickman. Will it work for a whole line? There’s something of a cult-like vibe to Krakoa in these twelve issues, a sense that it’s all a little bit too good to be true – even before you get to the inherent creepiness of killing characters and restoring them from back-up copies, or the obvious hints that all is not as it seems. What happens when other creators have to tell stories there? Hickman’s set-up goes some way towards providing a solution to that problem, since it’s clear that the inner circle of the Quiet Council know more about what’s going on than the average citizen of Krakoa (and Xavier and Magneto know more than the Council). So writers using those other characters can simply take Krakoa at face value.

But the general aura and style of the place under Hickman is so distinctive that you have to wonder whether it can survive the range of depictions from other creators that it’s about to experience. We’re going to get more conventional character work, we’re going to see Krakoa in a less stylised way, and I wonder how that’s going to work.

I’ve got this far without even starting to discuss the themes of the series – largely because this is twelve issues of set-up, and while Hickman is raising big ideas, precisely what he has to say about them remains nebulous right now. On that level, these are things that remain annotation-fodder for now. Whether it all comes together is a question that will only be resolved in the future; at this stage, it’s just about convincing us to come along for the journey.

There are certainly big ideas being put into play, though – though still ones with a clear precedent in the X-books. We’re back to the idea of mutants as the next stage in evolution; and like Morrison, it’s taken at face value here, instead of being just a device to explain why some people have super powers. But Hickman seems to be rejecting the idea that that makes mutants the future, on the basis that the future actually belongs to the machines. Quite why only the humans that should ascend to posthumanity, rather than humans and mutants both, is not exactly clear to me at this stage, but it’s early days.

Linked to all this are issues of group identity and individuality. In building yet another mutant island community, Xavier is creating a society that insists that the most important thing about everyone there is the fact that they’re a mutant. It’s a perfectly understandable view for a persecuted group but whether it’s a healthy end point is another matter entirely. Hickman is playing the old trick of repeating the same basic idea at different scales – that’s the basic conceit of Powers of X, though actually using the powers of ten for notional time frames probably caused more confusion than it was worth. At the grand, universal scale, society becomes a collective in which the individual is lost; at the level of Krakoa, national/mutant identity is displacing individuality; and at the level of the individual, copies are treated as interchangeable.

In that light, the somewhat marginal space for character work in these two titles makes sense. There is characterisation in here, but it’s on the margins, because this is a story being told at the level of society rather than individuals; or rather, the very marginalisation of individual characters is a big part of the point. It’s another thing that I suspect will change pretty rapidly once the line as a whole gets up and running, potentially diluting the coherent tone that Hickman has developed on these two books; perhaps it was a smart move to give him a clear run on these early issues to get it all going. You can’t have that many monthly books all taking place at the society level. We’ll be back in more conventional territory soon enough, even if it’s not in X-Men itself.

Hickman’s new status quo may be built from pre-existing elements, but the end result is novel. It’s not the island, but simply the fact that in Hickman’s set-up, the mutants have the upper hand. That’s what makes this different from Utopia, which was a refuge for the last remnants of mutantdom. It’s not exactly like House of M or Age of X-Man either, since both those stories came closer to just removing the humans from the equation. The result seems to pitch the X-Men somewhere between Attilan and Wakanda.

These aren’t really two stories. But they are a convincing statement of intent that the X-Men are going somewhere both different and interesting.

Bring on the comments

  1. Job says:

    @Salome H

    From Paul’s analysis of the Xorn solo issue:

    “As the penultimate page makes clear, the narration is a letter written by Xorn to Xavier, in character. Therefore, it’s all lies and can be safely ignored. What
    remains is in character for Magneto.”

  2. Salomé H. says:

    Oh and X-Men #1! [spoilers]

    I was very much ready to detest this issue, given my increasing frustration with the conceptual density and emotive scarcity of Hickman’s writing on HoX/PoX. Especially given the “family nucleus” premise.

    The previous books dovetail nicely into this one, which both has a momentum of its own and feels very, very internally coherent with the “present day” construed by Hickman. It starts off laggy, odd and cold and that’s a reoccuring problem, but there are some nice details, a more personal style, a sense of location and more flair to characters and how they relate. All of this is at least a start, and some sense of humour is definitely a relief. I was, on the whole, pleasantly surprised.

    Loose thoughts:

    1) Hickman writes Storm like he has never read her in any way and from any authorial angle whatsoever. When she starts speaking about “conquer”, “defeat” and “yielding” (not exact terms) it reads as a very distorted parody (Ororo 2.0, the stoic imperialist). Her scene with a couple of the students was lovely, though.

    2) It… doesn’t really have a plot or premise all its own, self-contained or otherwise, does it? It follows through on the fall-out from the attack on the Mothermold to push things forward, ok. But this family meeting, or x-team if we’re to put it like that: what’s the definition of family here? Why is Wolverine in this issue at all? What defines this as a distinctive group, other than a sort of L-Word like map of relations with “Cyclops” at the center?

    3) Also: actually loved the organization of rooms and the deliberate, uncommented presentation of the three rooms as inter-connected. I wouldn’t expect this to mean they are three thirds of the one room, just that they have mutual access. And that’s a concept I can really get into. I also liked the empty rooms indicated: obviously this can just be leeway (i.e., guests, unrelated characters, etc) but noticing Havok’s and Vulcan’s rooms being together made me wonder whether Hickman isn’t, indeed, thinking of heading off on a “no, the OTHER Summers brother!” direction.

  3. Mark Coale says:

    Something I forgot to bring up on the pod:

    Are Scott and Jean (still) married?

    One of the kids calls Jean “mrs grey” but that could be a student/teacher respect your elders thing.

    And if they are married, do they need separate rooms?

  4. Job says:

    @Mark Coale

    “And if they are married, do they need separate rooms?”

    Hey now, married or not, maybe they just want to get a good night’s sleep? Xavier has figured out immortality but has yet to find a cure for restlessness and insomnia.

  5. YLu says:

    So is there any way to square the opening scene of the new X-Men #1 with existing continuity?

    I actually thought it was a great scene, but then I got to thinking about it and I don’t think there’s any way to make it fit with what we already know about Cyclops’ past?

  6. Col_Fury says:

    Maybe they’re just an upgraded pair of glasses and not the original? Maybe the old ones were unreliable and that’s what made Scott nervous, thinking they may not work right?

    There are a ton of implant scenes across the Marvel Universe that wants to be the FIRST TIME something happened, but have to be squinted at or explained away. This one doesn’t bother me too much.

    Good question about the marriage. Both of them have died in the meantime, making them both a widow and widower, so who knows what the laws are in the Marvel Universe regarding this? BUT, do they consider themselves still married, whether they are legally nor not? I’m not sure…

  7. CHris V says:

    The way Xavier was speaking in that scene with Scott also doesn’t make sense.
    It seems to go with the “the entirety of X-Men history has been a secret plot by Xavier and Moira”.

    The idea that Xavier went off on his own and tried to achieve his own dreams, without following Moira’s advice, seems to be hard to reconcile with Xavier speaking to Scott in that manner, so early in X-Men history.

  8. Col_Fury says:

    How so? I got the “Something that makes you different makes you better, not lesser” pep talk type vibe from it.

  9. Chris V says:

    Yes, Hickman said that X-Men would feature self-contained stories, but this issue even has a cliffhanger ending.
    It carries over from the ending of House and Powers, which makes sense since it was released a week after those series ended.

    It certainly can’t hold up as a story on its own, no.

  10. Chris V says:

    Col.Fury-I don’t have the issue in front of me. It’s on page one though.
    Xavier says, “That’s what they do.”
    Now, he may mean bigots, but it seems it imply the normies. Especially with the next line.
    He says something about how “we are not like them”.
    That doesn’t seem like the “we should be equals” dream of Xavier.

    Claremont said that Xavier was influenced by people like Martin Luther King and Gandhi.
    I don’t imagine King giving a speech where he tells people that “we are not alike”.

  11. Job says:

    @Chris V

    “It certainly can’t hold up as a story on its own, no.”

    Is it even a story at all so far?

  12. Adrian says:

    I am assuming this is the place to comment on X-Men 1 as people have already been giving details. Overall, the human half of the story was better done. I do not find the cliffhanger interesting but at least Hickman is developing the human characters. I am curious about where this Orchis thing is going.
    The X-Men characterization continues to be awful with characters literally telling us how big a change in status quo this is. Amateur hour at its finest.
    The cult weirdness continues in both the Magneto pages and the Summers section (both poor). The fact that Hickman thinks a bedroom map is worth including in his story says volumes. Another example of Hickman’s inability to write character scenes that show so instead we get things in bland info pages to tell.
    I will check out the other number 1 issues to see if any book interests me but I can safely drop this one. Even if the X-men are tampered clones, mind controlled or something else (all lazy plot devices), Hickman should still be able to write better dialogue than this. Storm is particularly bad.

  13. Dave says:

    Is the Jean / Marvel Girl thing as simple as her being ‘regressed’ to an earlier stage? But, I thought readers HAD been guessing that.
    Alternatively, this is Phoenix pretending to be Jean again, while she’s off in a cocoon.

    “…a sense that it’s all a little bit too good to be true – even before you get to the inherent creepiness of killing characters and restoring them from back-up copies, or the obvious hints that all is not as it seems”
    The one bit of characterisation that still makes no sense to me is Wolverine asking Nightcrawler about the afterlife, when both of them have been there.

    Think I’ll be giving Supernovas a re-read after the new #1.

  14. Job says:


    “Is the Jean / Marvel Girl thing as simple as her being ‘regressed’ to an earlier stage? But, I thought readers HAD been guessing that. Alternatively, this is Phoenix pretending to be Jean again, while she’s off in a cocoon.”

    One of the huge problems with Hickman’s X-Men (among many many many) is that all these character inconsistencies (Warren, Wolverine, Storm, Jean, Cable, Vulcan) need to be addressed and resolved for people to be able to focus on anything happening with them going forward. It’s not like these are all mysteries that are going to be resolved in stories dedicated to exploring them. They are core components of the characters that come across as inconsistent or illogical, given the characters’ histories, and need to be addressed up front.

    For example, Warren clearly did not enjoy being Archangel. For almost the entirety of his history as Archangel, or sharing a body with Archangel, or being able to turn into Archangel, he wished that Apocalypse had never changed him. So if he’s now able to be reborn however he wishes, and he is still Archangel, that needs to be addressed up front, or else we have no idea who the fuck he is now.

  15. Chris V says:

    To be fair, Vulcan is the most interesting he’s ever been, and the less that anything about his past is addressed, the better.
    I’ve just never found the character (what little of it ever existed) interesting.
    I was wishing that Vulcan wasn’t even used.

    Although, as someone else said, the bit of depth that’s been given to Vulcan by this story (if you can call it that) wasn’t bad, by Vulcan’s standards.

    Geez, I hope that Hickman wasn’t hinting that Jean is now the Phoenix again.
    It doesn’t go with anything we’ve seen in the series, considering that Jean seems less powerful than since the Roy Thomas era.
    Plus, she’s calling herself “Marvel Girl” again, which doesn’t make any sense.
    Besides which, it’d undo the story that was just told with Jean’s resurrection, that she wasn’t going to become the Phoenix again.

  16. Brent says:

    I agree with the point that the inconsistencies with the characters being a huge distraction from the actual plot of the comic. I think originally this was an intriguing portion of the storyline, because you assume Hickman is going to show you why the change occurred. But I guess that could be summed up to someone’s earlier comment from a previous comment section, Hickman doesn’t do character development. His characters basically stay the same. The plot moves forward but his characters are set in stone. So I guess explaining why characters are where they’re at would go against that.

    I think this also plays into the Jean/Wolverine/Cyclops relationship as well. Basically since most of us were introduced to the characters, Cyclops and Wolverine have been fighting over Jean. Even if she has a relationship with both of them, the fact that they are both cool with it is completely out of character. Seeing whatever took place to get them to where they’re at now would be a pretty intriguing story. But that doesn’t look like it’s on the menu. Just a little something to stir up the internet.

    It really makes the characters feel even more like pod-people. If these were three characters we’d never heard of before, it would be easier to accept at face value. But knowing the history of the alpha male jealousy that propelled these two for so long, it screams something has been done to alter these characters. Though I believe Hickman has denied mind control, I wonder if Krakoa could be releasing some sort of pheromone that creates a semi- hive minded state, restricting negative emotions like jealousy toward each other. This would be an easy way to keep the peace.

    This place emptied of conflict plays into the whole Heaven on Earth symbolism in Krakoa, which honestly worries me a little from a story standpoint. Obviously if there is no conflict, there is no story. I’ve been giving Hickman the benefit of the doubt, but the further it goes on the more it just feels like plot points and interesting ideas without a real story to tell. And he’s 13 issues in. Most writers are in their second year on a book by now.

    I’ve also been done with this love triangle for years. The “soap opera” of this particular triangle has been done to death. One of the best things about any one of these characters being dead for the last 15 years has been that we haven’t had to suffer through another cycle of this again. I was honestly worried it would be dredged up again after Age of X-Man was over, so at least felt relieved when rosenberg’s uncanny ended with the kiss between Scott and Jean. It felt like we were past that. And we were headed somewhere different. I know this is different, but I’m not sure it’s headed anywhere story-wise because it would just be the same thing over again… or emotionless pod people… at least as long as Hickman is writing it. There could be some drama with other characters reacting to it maybe. But I’m assuming he’s never going to make it explicit anyway, and then other writers will just ignore it. And we’ll probably end up where we were 30 years ago.

    So basically because we don’t see what brought about this change, it makes these three characters feel less like characters. It makes them harder to relate to, and less human. Still the real question remains is this alien-nature to all the characters an intended part of the story, or is this just a by-product of Hickman’s brand of storytelling?

  17. Chris V says:

    I’m getting worried that Hickman is just using broad strokes with the story after reading X-Men #1.
    It seems like he has a point to make.

    Notice the scenes with the Orchis.
    It seems like Hickman is trying to make them more sympathetic.
    They pointed out that they don’t enjoy working with HAMMER agents or Hydra, but that they have had to make hard decisions for the sake of their goal.

    Hmm…Meanwhile, on Krakoa, we see the X-Men accepting supervillains to their ranks for a common cause.
    Do you see a parallel?

    It seems that Hickman is holding up a mirror between Krakoa and the Orchis.
    They’re starting to seem more and more alike.

    I hope not, but it seems that Hickman has decided to turn the X-Men in to a metaphor for ethnonationalism.
    Then, comparing them to the exact same people who they’re fighting against.
    We’re not really supposed to support either of these sides.

    All of this is so Hickman can once again make his point about the short-sightedness of humanity.
    That we’ll allow anything to divide us, and then our fighting will lead to a horrible future.
    Instead of being able to see a better future, we’ll just end up dooming ourselves, when we could have come together to work towards solving our problems.

  18. Arrowhead says:

    Superhero characters are, by there nature, inconsistently characterized. If a character is allowed to grow and mature, then inevitably someone must regress them to their iconic, marketable persona. Sometimes writers give an in-story reason for this, sometimes they don’t bother, sometimes you can tell they just didn’t bother to read prior stories. And then eventually someone else tries to take the character in another direction, then some else reverts it, ad nauseum.

    This is especially true for secondary characters. Polaris has been written as a competent but bland hero, a 2D love interest, a walking Elekta complex, and a deranged villain – only occasionally justified with the half-assed and kinda offensive excuse of “eh, bitches be crazy.”
    Havok started as Cyclops’ rebellious, rivalrous brother then grew into a mature but less-distinct hero – and then spent 25 years on an treadmill of regressing and maturing and regressing again. Does anyone care that these two characters aren’t consistent with, say, Chuck Austen or Peter Milligan’s stories? Because remember, those are still “in continuity.”

    (Hell – does anyone care about Polaris at all? Has a single human being ever listed their Top 10 X-Men and and put Lorna Dane as number #1?)

    Or look at Storm – an undeniably iconic and beloved superhero, written as a bloodless “strong female character” since Claremont left, even by talented writers like Ellis and Gillen. Has anyone written a must-read Storm comic in the past 20 years? When Hickman writes her as a 2-dimensional militant true-believer on Krakoa… that’s one more dimension than she’s had in decades of comics, and two more dimensions than any of the movies.

    Finally, if a writer can take a garbage character and make them work by throwing out everything about them – go for it. Vulcan was a 1990s continuity fart blown up into a forgettable antagonist in a mediocre story. Layla Miller in House of M was an insultingly obviously plot device until PAD rewrote her as effectively a new character. Angel started as Stan Lee’s “eh, here’s another one” with a joke superpower to a reliable angst machine with a killer Walter Simonson redesign.

    In short… if Spider-Man is gunning down gangsters like the Punisher, then yes, I agree that’s a problem. Otherwise, I’m willing to forgive some character discrepancies under a new writer.

  19. Chris V says:

    I don’t think people are so much concerned about character discrepancies, so much as their lack of character.
    Most of the characters in Hickman’s story, so far, are interchangeable.
    Would you really know if someone read you Storm’s dialogue in this comic who was speaking? Couldn’t it just as easily have been Cyclops or Magneto?

    I think that Hickman was making the point that the X-Men have been trained as soldiers, so when they’re in the field, they act like soldiers.


    However, I must say that Warren was my favourite of the original X-Men!
    I thought he was the most interesting.
    He was the arrogant rich guy who thought that the girl should love him, not nerdy bland Scott.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I see your point, but then again… name me a memorable Hickman character. I’ve got nothing.

    Some of them get good single scenes, but that’s about it as far as I’m concerned.

    Thor realizing he has become worthy again as he faces the Beyonders is the best thing about Hickman’s Avengers run – but it’s not a very crowded competition and that’s, what, over 100 issues? And apart from maybe Namor and Black Panther, none of the main characters actually get a story of their own.

  21. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    The above was meant as a reply to Arrowhead.

  22. Chris V says:

    There was that Thing story in his Fantastic Four, when he realizes he’s going to far outlive everyone he knows.
    That issue had me nearly in tears.
    It was quite depressing.
    I thought Hickman did a really good job with character and emotion in that issue.

    I liked his take on Mr. Fantastic too.
    Reed is a pretty bland guy anyway.

    FF was a fun and imaginative series too.

  23. Arrowhead says:


    I bailed on Hickman’s Avengers pretty quickly, but from what I read that’s a fair complaint. I liked the character work in his first few New Avengers arcs – watching a bunch of rich powerful supergeniuses grow increasingly desperate as the noose tightens – but it was definitely secondary to plot, and I never bothered reading the “time runs out” stories.

    But I must disagree that Hickman can’t do characterization. FF is my absolute favorite Reed Richards story – a man confronted with his potential to shape reality on a cosmic scale, and wrestling with that responsibility versus his family, and reconciling these when he realizes that his loved ones are his tether to his humanity, and that abandoning then for a perceived greater good would gradually corrode his soul.

    Both Valeria and Grampa Richards have comparable arcs, but they’re differentiated enough to reinforce the recurring theme rather than merely repeating it. As for the rest of the cast, some of the Future Foundation kids (Bentley, the Moloids) are really charming. The other FF members remain pretty static, but guys like the Thing or the Human Torch are such time-tested archetypes that there’s nowhere really to go with them, and Ben Grimm still has two great bits: one when Ben has totally withdrawn after Johnny’s apparent death, so Banner and Thor take him out into the middle of the desert and (presented with no dialogue) they let him scream and beat the shit out of them until he finally breaks down. And the issue when Ben gets to be human for 24 hours is sweet.

    All of that’s pretty great stuff, as far as I’m concerned. Looking at all his Marvel work, the common thread seems to be that Hickman brings in vast supporting casts and high-concept plots, while limiting deep characterization to a handful of central figures. So if one of those central characters doesn’t click with you, or if one of your favorites is demoted to the supporting cast… yeah, I can see really disliking those stories.

    (As far as creator-owned work, East of West is an amazing book firing on all cylinders, working on a massive scale with a large cast of deeply developed characters.)

  24. Evilgus says:

    I very much agree with the observations about Polaris and Havok. Tbh they are very 2nd tier characters who fill the plot void. But it’s a shame, given their long-standing history, they aren’t more developed. I feel that is because they weren’t given “characters tics” by Claremont beyond”reluctant superheroes” and “archaeologists”. Peter David tried done some fantastic work, but they sadly remain ciphers.

    Storm is more difficult. She had such authorial focus, it’s hard to recapture. For all that people talk about Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, the longest character arc and development of note was Ororo. Her stories just down translate in the same flashy way. That nobody (none of the editors of writers) has even tried with her for years is criminal.

  25. Evilgus says:

    *don’t translate in the same way
    … As they are more character driven, then “cosmic force possessed me”.

    But then again, as a child, I’m sure Phoenixes were more exciting!

  26. Chris V says:

    Yes, Claremont’s work with Storm was, most likely, my favourite aspect of his run.
    He evolved Storm better than any other character, and she became one of the most interesting characters (especially during her Mohawk days).

    He also did a good job developing Colossus.
    Speaking of, when was the last time that Colossus was interesting?
    It seems like he’s been an underdeveloped mess since Claremont left the book too.

  27. Mark Coale says:

    Just saw someone on Twitter ask Hickman if Scott and Logan were a couple, 🙂

  28. Job says:


    “Superhero characters are, by there nature, inconsistently characterized. If a character is allowed to grow and mature, then inevitably someone must regress them to their iconic, marketable persona.”

    Neither of those examples describes an inconsistency. If they “grow and mature,” then it is a gradual state from one character type to another. If they regress, then they return to a familiar state that is consistent with the past.

    “Polaris has been written as a competent but bland hero, a 2D love interest, a walking Elekta complex, and a deranged villain – only occasionally justified with the half-assed and kinda offensive excuse of “eh, bitches be crazy.””

    That’s not a good thing. This is an example of a character crying out for consistency.

    “Or look at Storm – an undeniably iconic and beloved superhero, written as a bloodless “strong female character” since Claremont left”

    That’s still consistency.

    “When Hickman writes her as a 2-dimensional militant true-believer on Krakoa”

    That’s inconsistent.

    “if Spider-Man is gunning down gangsters like the Punisher, then yes, I agree that’s a problem”

    Why is this one example a problem?

  29. Arrowhead says:

    @Chris V
    I loved Gillen’s arc for Colossus as Juggernaut. Piotr as the “gentle giant” archetype has limited dramatic potential. Becoming Juggernaut forced him to confront anger and violent impulses that he was happier pretending weren’t there, and led to interesting tension with Ilyana and Kitty.

  30. Chris V says:

    I liked Colossus as the “gentle giant”. He’s made of steel, but has the soul of a poet and the heart of an artist.
    It wasn’t just his physical size though, but the fact that he had a working class background.
    He wasn’t just a simple guy from the lower classes; he was skilled and intelligent.
    He often kept that part of himself hidden, at first.
    It was nice to see Claremont tackle the subject of class.

    Then, after he went through the Siege Perilous, he just wanted to leave the violence behind.

    I liked that presentation of Colossus.
    One of my favourite X-Men stories is the back-up story in Classic X-Men #5 (I’m pretty sure it was that issue).
    I consider that the perfect Colossus story.

    I mean, I liked Gillen’s run, especially compared to a lot of other X-comics from around that period….but, we already had Cain Marko as the Juggernaut.
    A big, lumbering bully who had to deal with his anger.

  31. Chris V says:

    If you think about it, Colossus didn’t have a lot to be angry about.
    He actually had a good childhood. One of the few X-Men who didn’t have a troubled childhood.
    I enjoyed that uniqueness to his character too.
    He wasn’t “hated and feared” in Russia, because the farmers considered his power a blessing. He could help them do their work quicker.

    I absolutely abhorred Lemire making it so that Colossus really had an abusive childhood, just like so many other mutants.

  32. Job says:

    @Chris V

    “I absolutely abhorred Lemire making it so that Colossus really had an abusive childhood, just like so many other mutants.”

    The early ’90s stories, first (apparently) killing off his brother Mikhail, then killing his parents, then killing off Illyana, just to make him dark and brooding and a traitor to Xavier, were also dreadful.

  33. J says:

    “Quite why only the humans that should ascend to posthumanity, rather than humans and mutants both, is not exactly clear to me at this stage, but it’s early days.”

    Isn’t Xavier sort of in that position right now?

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