How Johnathan Hickman Makes Every Issue Count
*This is an archive post from a previous blog. I hope you enjoy it!*
2019 saw the conclusion of Matthew Rosenberg’s divisive run on Uncanny X-Men. A series that both concluded an era and primed one of Marvel’s most influential franchises for a fresh start. Not long before the end of Uncanny, it was announced that groundbreaking writer, Johnathan Hickman, would be getting his hands on the entire X-Men franchise for a massive resurgence with the promise that by the end of it, the X-Men will matter again. Hickman is best known for his work on the Fantastic Four (where we are introduced to the council of Reeds and Franklin Richard’s true power and potential), his entire Infinity series (which introduced the Black Order and managed to tie in three different cosmic tales into one) and Secret Wars, which ended the Ultimate universe by literally crashing it into the 616. Needless to say, Hickman knows a thing or two about the long game. It has been almost 2 months since the Dawn of X, so the question remaining is, how is the long game holding up so far? (major spoilers ahead)
House of X and Powers of X (pronounced ten) ushered in many new concepts to the X-Men world. The former shows readers a world where mutantkind decides that the best way to grow is separately. Pulling from classic X-Men lore, the island of Krakoa serves as a new nation for mutantkind. A nation jointly handled by Magneto and Professor X. But their future is uncertain; the struggle to grow is hindered by the imminent threat of sentinels, specifically Nimrod. This is where Powers of X comes into play. A series set in a ruined future where Nimrod and his Sentinels hunt mutant hybrids for their own nefarious means. But they have a mission of their own. But even with all of this new content to comprehend, what does this mean for Hickman and his long game?
Time is something that will play a huge part in Hickman’s vision. Moira MacTaggert, coincidentally, is also no stranger to time. Moira, as we find out, is a mutant with the power to reincarnate with all of the memories of her past life and, with this knowledge, tries to save the mutant species from continuous extinction through any means. House of X #2 reveals to the reader that she has ten lives left before she is killed permanently; we find that every timeline has been explored except for one that isn’t the current timeline. This is one of the biggest revelations of the entire series, but possibly not the biggest as issue #4 of House of X will show us.
Each issue of both House and Powers of X gives readers a piece to a puzzle. The only thing is that with every issue, the picture looks only slightly more confusing, which the more completed parts begin to make sense. Issue #4 of HoX shows us a team comprised of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Husk, Wolverine, Mystique, and Monet St. Croix; taking on a group of people trying to boot up a Sentinel Mother Mold. This Mother Mold is believed to be the catalyst that brings about Nimrod. The mission was set to be simple enough; however, this book’s conclusion finds the truth to be the exact opposite. Tragically, each member dies is equally gruesome and violent ways in an effort to stop the Mother Mold. While the mission is a success, the losses weigh heavy. None more than that of Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Who heroically sacrifice themselves by teleporting into space, vaporizing Nightcrawler instantly, while Wolverine claws the Mother Mold from her housing to the station, careening them both into the sun. The battle is won, but the cost causes Professor Xavier to utter two words; ” No More.”
With both series just passing the halfway point of their six-issue runs, Johnathan Hickman gives us the tools necessary to help us understand the puzzle. By giving readers a cipher of the Krakoan language, they can go back to previous issues to understand the past. Much like Moira, many fan-favorite X-Men have died, yet the question remains, did they? Moira MacTaggert is missing one timeline of her life. Could this be the missing timeline be another failed attempt to stop a doomed future? Will readers know by the end of House of X and Powers of X? Or perhaps even in future series where the characters who had just been killed have returned. How will this affect the Marvel Universe as a whole? That is how Hickman is playing the long game, and it will only become clearer as the series concludes and branches to new titles. But with every new answer, another question emerges.