To call Marvel’s House of X and Powers of X a quantum leap forward for the X-Men may be an understatement. So far the twin series have established a bold new direction for the merry mutants as well as some extremely interesting changes to established Marvel history. So with the information we currently have, as well as the solicits for the X-line after the “two series that are one” ends, where does it go from here?
Naturally, we’re going to be discussing ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** from this point forward for Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, RB Silva and Marte Gracia’s work on House of X #1 & #2 and Powers of X #1 as well as information revealed in solicits for X-Men, Fallen Angels, Marauders, X-Force, New Mutants, and Excalibur (AKA the Dawn of X) coming this fall. I won’t be diving too deep into fan theory, just educated guesses and observations from the hints, news and stories we’ve already seen! And one last note, this was drafted prior to Powers of X #2 hit the stands, so it does not include any information revealed in that issue. So that said, let’s dive in!
What is the House of X?
No, I don’t mean the title. In House of X #1 we saw a map of Krakoa, and it included the House of X. That means the title isn’t symbolic- HOX is a literal place. Now it could be a simple answer, such as the compound where everyone lives on Krakoa, or something more metaphorical (yes, the House of X is in all mutants) while remaining an actual place. It’s an interesting question worth asking, especially since we discovered the meaning of Powers of X almost immediately.
Are Xavier and X one and the same?
Before ALL the questions that came up in HOX #2 were introduced, the biggest question was who is this helmeted man dancing around gooey pods on Krakoa like Lydia Deetz at the end of Beetlejuice? Last we saw Xavier, his soul had been rescued from the Astral plane and merged with Fantomex to create a new version of himself that he called X. X was unlike any version of Xavier we had seen before, making morally grey decisions in order to better mutantkind. There are definite similarities between X (with his black turtleneck and full head of hair) and HOX’s Xavier, but there are just as many differences.
So are they the same being? Or is Xavier a resurrected being completely separate from X? And if the latter is true, will we ever see X again?
Death Has No Meaning
Perhaps one of the most notable things about the story that led up to this event was its body count. Virtually every issue of Uncanny X-Men #11 through #22 had at least one death. However, in the Dawn of X almost every single dead character is accounted for on at least one series cover, alive and well (most of them appearing on the cover of New Mutants #1). The only exceptions seem to be Jamie Madrox and Warlock, both of whom could easily show up in the books themselves. Matthew Rosenberg has given a winking “it’s almost like I knew what was happening in HOXPOX” response to several people who have asked him about this but other creators have remained mum.
The characters who died in that arc aren’t the only ones who appear alive and well on Dawn of X covers either- we see Gabriel Summers, who died in the War of Kings crossover nearly a decade ago, and the original Pyro, who died from the Legacy Virus back in 2001. So how are all these dead mutants coming back? Does it have anything to do with the pods we saw in the opening pages of House of X #1? And what does it mean for the X-Men moving forward?
No More Mutant Villains
The line between hero and villain seems to have been blurred in the Dawn of X. Pyro is a member of the Marauders (which is actually one of the most conventional teams seen in Dawn of X despite the title). Black Tom Cassidy is in X-Force. Vulcan shows up on the cover of X-Men. And perhaps the biggest of all is En Sabbah Nur as a member of Excalibur.
We hear several mentions of “the amnesty” in House of X #1. Given the context, it seems that one of the conditions of accepting trade from Krakoa is granting amnesty to mutants who have committed crimes. Given the most extended discussion of the amnesty is surrounding Sabretooth, perhaps the most sadistic and irredeemable villain in X-canon, it appears the concept is intended to extend to ALL mutants, and not just a cherry-picked few. This leads into the next point…
The Mutant-Machine War
Though the Dawn of X covers don’t give us any hints about this, House of X and Powers of X have been almost exclusively about the war between mutants and the AI created to destroy them. In House of X #1, we meet the Orchis Protocol, which is operating out of a Master Mold head and has the Omega Sentinel as an agent. Powers of X #1 shows a future where the machines rule Earth and mutants are the only resistance. In House of X #2, many of Moira’s later lives are devoted to fighting the rise of the Sentinels and Nimrod.
Clearly there will be page time devoted to fighting the machines, Terminator style. It’s the next natural step if Xavier, Magneto and Moira are able to unite and redeem all mutants under the banner of Krakoa. However, will the story be about stopping the Sentinels and changing the future or are the mutants doomed to fall 100 years hence?
What Happened to Moira VI?
House of X #2 changed the game by introducing the concept that Moira MacTaggert- long thought to be the team’s most valuable human ally- was actually a mutant with the power to reincarnate and retain full knowledge of her previous lives. It’s a game changing retcon along the lines of Grant Morrison’s introduction of Cassandra Nova, Scott Snyder’s multitude of revelations in Justice League, or the granddaddy of them all, Alan Moore’s Saga of Swamp Thing. But there was one interesting detail we didn’t learn.
We get at least glimpses of nine of the ten lives Moira has lived as well as a timeline of each of them at the end of the issue. However, the skipped over life- life number six- was a complete blank. It was so clearly and purposefully done that it will almost definitely have consequences on the overall story.
Some people are speculating life six was actually identical to Earth-616 except for Moira not hatching the plan she woke up with in life ten. That seems a little too simple but I’m not willing to cast aside anything. So what happened in that lifetime, and how will it affect things in this story?
The Ride of the First Horsemen
That aforementioned timeline was positively FULL of fascinating information about Moira’s past lives. I probably spent at least thirty minutes alone on my first readthrough reading it, comparing the different lives with one another, and just absorbing the data (it doesn’t hurt that I’m a data junkie in my day job). Of all the fascinating tidbits, one detail stood out in life nine- in year twenty-four, Moira and Apocalypse rescue “the First Horsemen” and “return to Earth.”
Now, they are obviously not the Horsemen we first met back in Apocalypse’s early appearances in X-Factor. They were all terrestrial mutants who were transformed by En Sabbah Nur, and that “return to Earth” tidbit sure seems to imply these Horsemen were off-planet somewhere. It could just be an interesting little detail that’s never revisited, but that’s not like Hickman. So the question is where and when we meet them.
Every five or so years we hear the name Kevin MacTaggert, AKA Proteus, pop up. It’s only natural- he’s one of the greatest adversaries the X-Men ever faced. However, Kevin pops up twice in three issues in very small but significant ways.
In House of X #1, one of the coolest charts was one that redefined the term Omega Class mutant. Many readers noticed that Proteus was listed among the significant Omega mutants, and was very specifically aligned with Krakoa. Then again he pops up on the “many lives of Moira X” chart, with the timeline for life X calling out Kevin’s birth very specifically about 21 years before the start of House of X. We haven’t seen any glimpse of him on panel, but considering that he basically only exists in life X, he’s not only significant, he may be crucial to everything.
Beyond Proteus, there are clearly some wild card players in the grand design of Xavier and Moira. Powers of X #1 reveals that Nathaniel Essex toes the company line, but will eventually betray the X-Men somewhere between House of X and the future events shown in Powers of X. Sabretooth has already shown that despite the second chance he’s been offered, he can’t change. And there’s four Omega class mutants with none or unknown as their affiliation in the Omega mutant chart- Jamie Braddock, Legion, Exodus, and, very interestingly, the obscure Mister M.
Most notably, you have to consider Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards. The Fantastic Four’s appearance in House of X #1 cemented this book’s place in the Marvel Universe, but Cyclops’ passive-aggressive hostility in that scene towards his long-time allies offers a massively exciting tease- Franklin has family waiting for him on Krakoa. There’s even some speculation that Franklin is one of the surviving mutants referenced in Powers of X #1. Given his place of prominence in the Marvel Universe, which you can’t deny was advanced by Hickman himself, and the fact that he’s the only human aligned Omega on the chart, it’s only a matter of time before he comes into play.
Where Are Xavier, Moira and Magneto?
With House of X #2 we’re suddenly facing a new history for mutants in the Marvel universe, one that includes a trinity of key figures. The “many lives of Moira” timeline even specifically says that Magneto was a part of the plan for at least a portion of the timeline’s history. However, in six different Dawn of X covers none of those three crucial mutants are pictured.
This could just be for spoilers’ sake, of course. The Dawn of X covers all really were just team roster pin-ups, with Fallen Angels and Excalibur really being the only two of the bunch that even remotely hinted at any plot details. However, it’s interesting, given each character’s prominence in House of X and Powers of X, that their absence is glaring.
Could what they’re doing cause a rift with the X-Men at large? Is part of their plan a split with the larger whole? Do they actually have a huge and super-spoilery role in Dawn of X? Do they all die? That last one is probably unlikely, but they’re all very possible.
A Continuing Commitment to Diversity Alongside Exciting Stories
I mean, this one is a given. With a line-up include pros like Bryan Hill, Tini Howard, Rod Reis and more, the creators involved in Dawn of X are fresh and diverse voices to the line, with new perspectives. The character line-ups are just as diverse, with female, non-white, and queer characters all appearing as regulars and leads in the various stories. The editorial team has expressed continued commitment to that by mentioning some of the creators on tap for in-development “wave 2” X-line titles such as Leah Williams and Vita Ayala.
This commitment is crucial for growth and development of the line, and I’m personally thrilled to see it.
I’m sure there are hints that I’ve missed, but there’s no doubt this is the most exciting time to be a fan of the X-Men in years. No matter what, it’s thrilling to see what’s happening and what might come.
And until we know more, all I have to say is… TO ME, MY X-MEN!