“…it was needed [to be done] to return the X-Men to their rightful prominent position in the Marvel Universe” – Jonathan Hickman
Starting at some point this summer if your reading an X-Men title, you’ll have to deal with the fact that it’ll all be going away. Uncanny X-Men, Mr. and Mrs. X, all the Age of X-Man books- gone. With the triumphant, orgasm-inducing return of the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Infinity, Secret Warsarchitect, Jonathan Hickman comes the end of the current era of X-Men books. Assuming you can consider this an “era” at all. Since the dawn of the MCU/ Fox comic book movie rivalry started the X-Men have been somewhat on the outside looking in.
Barely being utilized during company crossovers, and spinning their wheels within their own inconsequential stories, the X-Men have been banished to the outskirts of Marvel Comics (however, to this day they haven’t admitted as much). Their biggest pop came by way of nearly being eradicated by suddenly deadly clouds of Inhuman Terrigen Mist. All the while the characters of the same name reached to replace them as the dominant super-powered sub-species of Marvel Comics (didn’t work, but not for a lack of trying).
In recent months, since increased rumors of Disney’s purchase of Fox began circulating, Marvel’s Merry Band of Mutants had been enjoying a baby-resurgence. Many of the company’s top talents stepped in to presumably fix and correct years of narratively pointless meandering. Time-generated duplicates were either sent home or outright done away with. Marquee figures like Jean, Cyclops, and Wolverine returned to life, while others such as Jubilee, Gambit, and Rogue saw some much-needed character development. The usurping Inhumans (all in all, I love the Inhumans and their lore, but the X-Men they are not) all but disappeared back into the background of the mythos and the X-Men actually started doing something other than staving off extinction for the first time in what felt like years.
With the breakneck speed of the most recent Uncanny X-Men crossover, Disassembled, it appeared that Marvel was building up to something big. And big it was. Like Silver Surfer announcing the approach of Galactus, this was all to clear the field for Hickman’s new era of X-Men. And we’re not just talking about a reboot. Marvel and Hickman are razing the franchise, Thanos-style and beginning all over again. They are doing this starting with a 12-issue run of two books; House of X (HoX) and Powers of X (PoX). Both event books will run 6-issues each and set the stage for a new status quo for the X-Men line. He explained as much in his interview with ComicBook.com.
“We wanted to be clear to the fans, to the stores, and just as importantly, to the creators who are going to be staffing these books in the future. We wanted the message to be very clear: This is a whole new era for the X-Men. This is what we’re doing now.”
Hickman would elaborate on his plans for House of X and Power of X:
“One, House of X, is a story about a pivotal month in the history of the X-men where everything changes for mutants on Earth. And the other, Powers of X, is a story about the history of mutants in the Marvel Universe. It works as a series of reveals and revelations where each issue of HOX that follows POX — and vice versa — makes you reinterpret the issue you had previously read.
And then, obviously, at the end they crash together in a way that propels us forward into a new X-Universe.”
“If by ‘sci-fi elements’ you mean some basic evolutionary biology, a little genetic homogeny, a lot of contact linguistics or, you know, how mutants bend the Kardashev scale, then sure. We’ll be doing all that stuff.”
Hickman then discussed the “mutant metaphor.”
“I’m not sure how you get away from doing metaphor when you’re writing X-books. I suppose that, narratively, the problem nowadays is interpretation. Are we talking about a stand-in for marginalized groups, or the metaphor simply being a substitution of the word ‘different’ for ‘special’, or is the real modern complication atomization? Where everything is segmented to such a degree that there are no stories which mean something to everyone. Where the psychological expectation is something catered, or personalized.”
He then addressed that Marvel plans to launch an entire new universe of X-Book following the conclusion of House of X and Powers of X.
“At the conclusion of our 12 weeks of HOX and POX, we’ll be launching an entire new universe of X-books. Some will be traditional fare, some carry through on ideas presented in HOX and POX. Some books are completely new concepts. I, personally, will be writing the ongoing flagship X-book.”
Hickman details that Marvel is already working on what he describes as “Wave 1” books and more details will be revealed about them at San Diego Comic Con this year. He also notes that they have completed plans for “Wave 2” book and are planning to hire talent.
Finally, Hickman detailed how he sees the X-Men:
“Oh, I think the X-Men is about finding the family that you never knew you had. One that accepts you for who you are, who loves you at your best and worst, and who shares your dreams for what the world can be.
You know, everybody wants to love somebody, everyone wants to be loved, and it’s pretty great when you find both. Especially if you’re, say, a weirdo mutant with eyeballs covering your whole body.”
If you’ve been following the Age of X-Man books or Uncanny X-Men, it’s not hard to suspect that something big was on the horizon. Most of the stories being seeded and told can only end in a couple of ways. What do you make of the return of Jonathan Hickman and Marvel canceling and relaunching the whole X-Men line? Are we on the verge of the late ’80s to 00’s level of X-Men dominance?