House of X #6
VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Marte Gracia & David Curiel (colorists), Jonathan Hickman (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist), Tom Muller (design)
October 2, 2019
This review contains spoilers for House of X #6.
From the very first pages of House of X #1, that glimpse of golden pods and reborn mutants reaching for a new dawn, we knew that we were witnessing a new epoch for the X-Men. I have no doubt that there are other reviews online this week calling House of X #6, the first barrage of fireworks in this two-part finale, “ambitious,” “relevant,” or that most holy internet signifier, “epic.” And I would agree with all of them. If I could get away with it, this review would be nothing but gifs of people doing backflips and that DJ airhorn noise. It’s a triumphant comic, and like one of Krakoa’s portals, it opens a gateway to a place that’s exhilarating and new.
Perhaps most critically, House of X #6 introduces the three laws of Krakoa, and the story is divided into three major scenes. The first loops us back to Professor Xavier’s telepathic message to humanity, which opened the first issue: “While you slept, the world changed.” This Xavier does not offer any platitudes about brotherhood and harmony—the dream is dead, he says, and humanity killed it. Mutants are the future, and humans can benefit from this if they choose, but they cannot stand in their way.
Writer Jonathan Hickman’s radicalization of Professor X has been a bold step forward for the franchise. The X-Men “protecting a world that hates and fears them” has often felt like a tepid and out of touch response to the atrocities inflicted upon them, and Xavier has finally, ah, snapped. His final alignment with Magneto feels heavy with the weight of over fifty years of stories behind it, and it is immensely satisfying. And though we see Xavier moments before he puts on Cerebro, artist Pepe Larraz turns his face away from us; in effect, Cerebro has become Charles Xavier’s face. The founder of the X-Men relinquishes this last bit of so-called “humanity” before becoming the watchful, (mostly?) benevolent god who has given his people paradise.
And with the land comes the law. The second act snaps back to the present for the first meeting of Krakoa’s Quiet Council. We receive some intriguing answers to how Krakoa operates as a nation-state (including, ominously, what it means to be “exiled”), but the real thrill is seeing the councilmembers ricochet off one another. The Quiet Council is a seemingly impossible blend of family and foes and maybe the biggest test of whether or not the Krakoa experiment can succeed. Is the alliance with Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister an avenue for redemption? (You only have to look across the room at Magneto, Emma Frost, and even Jean Grey to see that the best X-Men have also been the best villains.) Or is it a strategy to keep a better eye on them? And as for the three laws of Krakoa, I wouldn’t dream of telling you what they are before you can read them for yourself. But Mystique’s cynical appeal to Nightcrawler’s religious nature gets a response that’s as life-affirming as it is funny.
The third act is a scene of singular, joyful brilliance. That night sees a celebration on Krakoa that’s like a colorful mutant rave—and more. (It’s worth remembering, she said with the winky emoji implied, that Hickman once tweeted “a group of mutants is called an orgy.”) The panels move like a camera across the landscape, in tune with the rhythm provided by Dazzler and Siryn that we can’t hear, but certainly feel. Larraz’s character work here is extraordinary; we catch faces and reunions and attitudes and understand their importance without a single bubble of dialogue. We see Marvel Girl, Wolverine, and Cyclops united in a happy triptych, and wonder if Hickman has cut the Gordian knot of these tangled relationships and found the solution. It will be fascinating to see if “Dawn of X” says out loud what this issue only whispers.
House of X #6 begins with Professor X’s words and ends with Magneto’s. The two men stand beside each other on a cliffside, backlit by fireworks, looking powerful and mythic and immortal. Magneto once likened himself to a god, but now he sounds like that most (forgive the word) human of things, a proud father: “Just look at what we have made.” There are many new beginnings in this issue—Jean’s little smirk at Emma! Wolverine cracking open a cold one with Gorgon! But there’s also a completeness to it, like the closing of a circle. It’s a similar feeling to the ending of The Return of The Jedi (and not just because Wolverine looks like an Ewok), with the characters celebrating the end of their own saga. If a longtime X-Men reader wanted to choose their own stopping point to the story that began with Lee and Kirby’s X-Men #1 in 1963, this would be a triumphant and rewarding end.
But of course, this isn’t the end. (And neither was The Return of The Jedi.) We still have Powers of X #6 ahead of us, helpfully marked with that Red Bar of Doom in the back of the issue. We’re being promised something earthshaking, something that might even drop a bucket of pig’s blood on everything I just raved about, but I’ll bask in the glow of this issue while I can. House of X has been an experience, literally; I’ll miss the hashtags and the group chats and the debunked theories (“See, now this is Moira’s fourth life, because…”) and just the act of reading the book and sharing my excitement with others. If “Dawn of X” maintains this momentum, there will be more yet to celebrate. House of X and Powers of X are books that will demand attention for years; Hickman, Larraz, Silva, Muller, and Gracia have created the rare superhero comic that actually deserves the hyperbole. It’s an event.
Just look at what they have made.