Comic Books

The State of X

Over the decades Marvel’s mutants have become the some of the most convoluted cast of characters in comics. That brings in writer Johnathan Hickman, who has set his sights on establishing a new status quo that, for the most part, succeeds.

Through his first two series House of X and Powers of X, Hickman has reset the mythos of mutants at least ten times. Through a character that will remain nameless to avoid spoilers, Hickman has created one of the better macguffins to be used in recent memory. Allowing readers to experience a series of What If style scenarios as to just how mutants find themselves at the crossroads they now stand.

Hickman is able to bring in many classic elements of the X-Men while treading some bold new ground. Thus, he is ever blending the lines between good and evil to the mostly grey world we find ourselves in every day.

*Slight Spoilers Follow*

One of the major selling points to this series is that it put as firm a grasp on the X-Men timeline as there has possibly every been. He is establishing that all of the past cataclysmic events have taken place over the last decade. That’s not to say that the time traveling, space faring, alternate reality comic book craziness the X-Men are known for is now gone. No, this is quite the opposite. Hickman chooses to show us four main timelines or years in the lives of the X-men. We have X0, X10, X100 and X1000. These eras all show different and unique visions of mutants place in history and society at the time, and that is where we get to the heart of what Hickman is really doing.

The X-men have always been about the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and the segregated. As characters they have always been an allegory for race, religion, and how superficial (or super powered) differences shouldn’t define the relationships we have with one another. It has been said by many that Hickman has written away and true sense of turmoil or urgency by giving all mutants in the world essential immortality. However, I would like to argue that the stakes have never been higher. While we no longer have the typical super hero styled concerns of world ending, or life and death; the landscape has shifted to societal stakes. At the core of the X-Men, the issues have always been about, for lack of a better word, obtaining some semblance of humanity. What is currently taking place is nothing short of a renaissance for mutants.

Hickman has gone so far as to create a full alphabet for mutants. While many of the events do feel old such having a nation state for mutants, or establishing a base on the moon, it has never been done of this scale. We had seen Magneto’s dream of Asteroid M; we’d seen the future Apocalypse had dreamed ruling with an iron fist. Now those dreams are blended with Xavier’s as all three sit on the first mutant government established on their new island home Krakoa.

This all serves to further Hickman’s grand design for mutants as culture grows and flourishes. Many questions still remain, like how does wolverine get his adamantium skeleton back after being resurrected, but Hickman himself poses better questions for better stories. Sure mutants can be revived with better genetics and greater control over their abilities, but Hickman himself states in an interview with

“What the more interesting question is is why does Cyclops need a visor? Why doesn’t Chamber have a jaw? Does the imprinting of the backup of their mind mean they have to be broken in that familiar way to actually be them? We’ve already shown a couple of interesting tweaks like Monet being able to assume a Penance form and Warren being able to be both regular angel and Archangel. So there seems to be some ability to tweak the finished version of a resurrected mutant. Is that also true about their age? Or about other aspects of their physical condition? What about their gender? What about if they want to be backed up from an earlier version? One that hasn’t suffered a particular trauma or had their heart broken.”

At its core that is what the X-Men has always been about. Whether they overcome some great physical adversary or they struggle with the inner turmoil of what it means to simply live the X-Men have persisted in meeting those struggles head on and with Johnathon Hickman at the helm, well I can certainly Geek With That.

SethTrav (Twitter) is part of the PreeshNetwork. Follow them on Twitch, and YouTube

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