Sinister Secrets Revealed In Powers Of X #4

by Tony Thornley

In the wake of House of X #4, the X-Men stand devastated. So what exactly does that monumental issue’s follow-up in Powers of X #4 have to say about it?

Jonathan Hickman, RB Silva, Marte Gracia, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller bring us one step closer to the answers we’ve been looking for.

In the past, Xavier and Magneto strike a deal with Mister Sinister. Continue what you’re doing what you’re doing, cataloguing all the DNA of human and mutant-kind, and we will supply what you can’t get. Meanwhile Xavier loops Doug Ramsey into the plan and in the far distant future, the Machines appear to have a much more sinister (yes, lowercase) purpose with the Phalanx…

This issue was a frustrating dichotomy. First of all, it was a delight seeing Hickman’s depiction of Mister Sinister again. His demeanor, attitude and even speech patterns are perhaps the best version of the character in his history (excluding maybe Kieron Gillen’s from which Hickman takes a lot of inspiration). The dialogue in particular sparkles, with a level of camp that fits the character so well, but never stops being vaguely threatening and, well, sinister. This also leads to the best part of the issue- the two page “Bar Sinister” data pages which are half teases for the future and half campy gossip rag and absolutely nails the soap opera feel of the franchise.

On the other hand, the issue does feel like a bit of wheel spinning. There’s not really a story in this issue, just set-up and supplementary material. The X^3 timeline still feels disconnected, serving only to apparently set up some sort of conflict with the Phalanx, while the Sinister story simply feels like a whole lot of exposition. It’s enjoyable and fun, but the series is now two-thirds complete, and we don’t quite seem to be moving towards a resolution. Perhaps that with change with the next issue of House of X, but right now I’m unsure.

The art however remains fantastic. Silva’s depiction of all of the different cloned incarnations of Sinister is incredibly well executed. He makes sure each one has different clothing, body language, presence, and it makes his appearance here even more of a delight. Gracia’s color art continues to be some of the best in the industry. He fills pages with color, but also does subtle things with the effects and light to draw the reader along the page alongside Silva’s layouts and figures.

For a set-up issue, this is actually a lot of fun, and I hope the story goes somewhere from here.

Powers of X #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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