Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artwork: R.B. Silva
Colours: Matre Gracia
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 21st August 2019
Powers of X #3 is packed with action and a fast-paced narrative. It’s also somewhat anticlimactic, and I’m calling bullshit on at least part of the story. Rather than divvying up the issue between four periods of time, this issue solely focuses on “Year 100”, where Apocalypse now leads the X-Men/Horsemen against Nimrod and his machine forces. Unfortunately, this suicide mission is a little underwhelming, primarily because the story that takes place 1000 years into the future suggests that Nimrod is inevitably going to overcome humanity and mutantkind alike. This, for me, is a part of the real problem with the style of storytelling being utilised both here and in House of X.
The knowledge of how certain events play out makes for a less impactful story, and Hickman’s job is to make us care and raise the stakes for the impending doom. He manages this to some extent, such as during the battle between North, Xorn, Rasputin and Cardinal and Nimrod’s General. There is real weight in their sacrifice, and both a level of desperation and a hint of recklessness when Rasputin unleashes the black hole Xorn has under his mask.
Compare that to the battle between Apocalypse and Nimrod – which looks epic thanks to R.B. Silva’s art – but is disappointingly short lived. A battle with that size and score should probably be allowed to unfold with a bit more space, particularly when the book opens with, “I am immortal, and I have no end,” an ominous quote from Apocalypse that promises set the tone for the entire issue.
Nimrod however continues to be a great villain in Hickman’s hands. Prior to the battle, he and his generals have a discussion that perfectly showcases his cold and calculating mannerisms for anything that doesn’t fascinate. In this case, it’s what the mutants stole in issue one. He can’t even be bothered to investigate the current mutant attack. Fortunately for him, his intuition serves him well as he discovers the mutants Apocalypse, Wolverine and Krakoa/Cypher all breaking into the database.
The book ends in a fairly unsurprising fashion, given what is already known about Moria MacTaggert. She acquires the information about when Nimrod comes online; the information Apocalypse and Co. are willing to die for. The moment looks heavenly and serene because of Marte Gracia’s color choices and the way he uses it for lighting effect, particularly in the second to last panel. But here’s where I call bullshit.
Issue #2 of House of X introduces the retcon that Moria is a mutant with the ability to reincarnate/regenerate along with her memories, a process which also seems to provide a restart for the entire universe. She constantly tries to change the course of history with varying degrees of success and failure, which has definite time travel elements, but Hickman has stated the X-Men relaunch isn’t a time travel/alt-universe story. It worked there because it was dressed up in over-the-top ways, whereas here it’s so minuscule. Judging by the previous issue of Powers of X, this information will be used when the X-Men launch their attack against Mother Mold in an attempt to prevent Nimrod from coming online. There has to be some kind of twist when you consider that the Nimrod ascension story is still to come.
That brings up another issue with this event: the four time periods. I wondered how quickly these chapters would conclude given the six-issue arc, and this is already clearly the beginning of the end. House of X (AKA “Year 10”) is the story that will get much more fleshed out given that it has its own title in addition to the segments seen in Powers of X. With just three issues left, it seems like Powers of X will have to conclude its “Year 1” and “Year 1000” stories rather abruptly.
The problem with these chapters being told so quickly and succinctly is the way most of the new characters get unceremoniously killed off. Granted they could come back in one of the future books Marvel has planned after House of X and Powers of X ends, but there is still a level of disappointment in the way these arrivals and departures are being handled.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511