Review – Powers of X #1 (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artwork: R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Tom Muller
Colours: Matre Gracia
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 31st July 2019

This is exactly how you relaunch the X-Men comic book franchise!

It explores events set in the past (designated Year One), the present, aka House of X (Year Ten), the future (Year One Hundred) and the distant future (Year One Thousand). This ambitious mode of storytelling allows series writer Jonathan Hickman to give readers a God’s-eye view of the events that will unfold throughout the story – assuming of course that our heroes don’t end up needing to prevent one of these events from happening. Unlike House of X, Powers of X has vision, which is a key ingredient if your plan is to reshape the X-Men universe going forward.

Three of the four stories (the first two and the last) are more teasers than anything else. That said, the first couple stories are a bit of drag but are an interesting way to build up to the third (future) story which makes up the bulk of the issue.

The Year One story reunites Moira MacTaggert and a walking Charles Xavier on a bench at a fairground. Their conversation quickly goes from light-hearted to ominous when she reveals that this isn’t the first time the two have met.

It’s an overly simplistic story, which is fine, but R.B. Silva’s depiction of the Professor is a little distracting. It’s also anime-esque. At times, the professor has black dots for eyes as if the Pokémon Ditto impersonated him, and other times, he looks like a meme Saitama from One-Punch Man. While the overall visual package is undoubtedly strong, drawing eyes seemingly isn’t Silva’s strong suit.

The Year Ten story continues the House of Xheist featuring Mystique and Toad. We learn that Magneto is the mastermind of the heist and, in a surprising turn of events, Charles – I’m still convinced it’s the Maker – is shown plotting with them.

This story neatly summarized my thoughts on House of X as a whole, which felt like a whole lot of book for not a lot of story. Here it makes sense because it’s a snapshot, but the entire first issue of House of X covers about the same amount of ground. Granted it’s the first, issue but the establishment of the status quo doesn’t need to be dull or minute.

Thart said, the Year One Hundred story is worth the price of admission on its own because Hickman’s storytelling and Silva’s artwork work impossibly well together. The setting is a bleak, Terminator-esque future where mutants are hunted down by both man and machine. A team of mutants comprised of Rasputin, Cylobel and Cardinal break into the Nexus to assess the mainframe, and the mission rapidly goes from bad to worse. As they wait for their gateway home to open, Rasputin attempts to free Cylobel from her captors but is overpowered.

This story is action packed – the soulsword has never looked cooler thanks to Silva’s artwork – and Hickman’s story has a lot of heart with the introduction of Rasputin and Cylobel. These sisters not only care for one another but we also see the kinds of sacrifices that need to be made by our heroes and heroines.

Another complaint I had with House of X was the infographics. These expository pages seemingly would come out of nowhere and stop any and all forward momentum the story may have had.  Here however they’re filled with tons of pertinent information that adds to the story, making a dark future even darker.

Cylobel is brought to Nimrod for interrogation, and all I can say is Hickman turns Nimrod in to such a horrific character with lines such as, “I am so, so sorry for what I’m about to do you.” and “So, as you fade away into nothingness, do try to find it your heart to forgive me.” It’s a gut-wrenching and it only gets worse after you read the infographic that follows, with Silva getting to twist the knife with his artwork that begins the final story.

The final story takes us a thousand years into the future and introduces us to the Librarian who works with Nimrod to maintain the mutant library – a living database of Homo Superior – and a dome known as ‘The Preserve’ which might house the last two members of the human race.

Normally, this story would be way too out there for me, but the idea is interesting enough and  both the Librarian and Nimrod’s motivations remind me a lot of DC’s Brainiac.

I like to think of House of X as the prelude to Powers of X, not just because it came first, but because House of X feels very stand-alone whereas in Powers of Xthere’s a lot of forward momentum and direction. Either way, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Rating: 4.5/5.


Lawr_avThe writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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