Can you judge an X-Men comic book event by its covers? I’m sure going to try!
Jonathan Hickman is coming and he’s bringing with him the House of X and the Powers of X books. So far, we’ve been told that the X-Men line is basically coming to an end and will be soft rebooted following the event. What’s not been made apparent is what exactly either book is about, who’s in control or what’s at stake. All we have knowledge of is a handful of issues with a crap-ton of variant covers. Most of the time, covers can reveal a lot of what’s going on within a book. Unfortunately, that’s not the situation we’ve got here. The covers we’ve been graced with thus far, while absolutely gorgeous, are, for the most part, murals of “what the #@#$?” They’re all over the place. Character Designs from different eras. Weird abstract collages. Long time dead characters along with unfamiliar amalgamations of others. They create more questions than they answer. Let’s take a look at some of the more puzzling instances from the House of X and Powers of X Covers.
10. Is that Really Professor-X?
Professor Charles Xavier died during the conclusion of Avengers Vs. X-Men – murdered by Cyclops while he was under the thrall of the Dark Phoenix. In a very un-X-Men manner, he stayed in his nonliving state for quite some time. It wasn’t until Astonishing X-Men did he return to the land of the living. In a way. At the moment of Xavier’s death, the Shadow King captured his essence (or soul) and trapped it in the Astral Plane. After the X-Men defeated (or distracted) the Shadow King, Professor-X was set free, at which time he inhabited the body of Fantomex. Since then, he’s gone simply by “X.” He erased all knowledge of his current state from the X-Men but left Psylocke’s memory intact with the intention of her acting as his sponsor, of sorts.
That was the last time we saw X until the many covers of the upcoming House of X and Powers of X mini-series. It’s hard to miss him, I’m fairly certain he’s the guy in the black jumper wearing the big “X” helmet. At the end of his Astonishing X-Men storyline (the book continued on with a new cast and creative team), it was obvious that he had plans. Plans he didn’t want his X-Men to get in the way of. He also didn’t trust himself fully, which is why he allowed Psylocke to retain the knowledge. Before his death, Xavier was basically a pariah among the X-Men. His reputation had been so thoroughly tarnished over the years; most X-Men kept him at arms-length. Without having to say, trust is going to be of short supply, especially if they discover that he erased their memory. Whatever scheme he may be involved in, I’m sure he’s doing it under the radar and it’s probably not going to go over well with all his former students.
9. Who’s that strange woman?
There are a lot of odd visuals throughout the covers, but one character stands among them. Probably because she’s featured more than most. By now, you’ve more than likely noticed the armored, raven-haired woman wielding Magik’s vaunted Soulsword. Taking a closer look at her, she reminds me a lot of Rogue when she’d absorbed and utilized the powers of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus and several others all at the same time. A mash-up, of sorts. She resembles Kitty in the face but obviously has organic-steel armor for skin.
If House of X and Powers of X has some time travel involved, this very well could be the offspring of Kitty Pryde and Colossus. Such a character being in possession of Magik’s sword would also make sense. Magik is Colossus’ sister and Kitty’s best friend. If a child between the two didn’t grow up calling her Auntie ‘Yana, I’d be disappointed. Nonetheless, it’d be an interesting character. Both the Soulsword and Colossus’ organic skin disrupt mystical energy. She could be quite the warrior.
8. Cyclops seemingly has a new uniform… and both eyes?
Readers of the Uncanny X-Men know that Cyclops and the rest of his team are rocking their old school costumes at the moment. This isn’t some sort of attempt at being fashionable. Their old uniforms were the only things Cyclops could salvage from the destroyed mansion’s sub-basement. So, seeing him in brand new duds just in time for Hickman’s soon to be Summer blockbuster was quite a surprise. Not to mention the fact that he’s also using a full visor. For those who don’t know, Cyclops recently had his right eye shot out by his foster-granddaughter, Hope. Don’t worry, he forgave her for it. I can’t imagine the X-Men’s current situation improving that much. But low and behold, we’ve got Cyclops in new threads and appears to sport multiple eyes. Seeing as he has his very own variant cover with many of his old looks, perhaps we’ll get a specific explanation.
7. What’s up with the soldiers?
As long as people are born with powers and others aren’t, the X-Men will always have someone to punch. A lot of the time, in abundance. If you pay attention to the covers of House of X #4 and Powers of X #1, you’ll notice both contain armored troops fighting against the X-Men. The soldiers on HoX #4 aren’t very detailed, cloaked in the red of Cyclop’s optic blast. Luckily, the PoX #1 variant uses normal daylight and reveals a bit more of what they look like.
You’ll notice several skin tones and at least a couple with beastly features such as sharp predatory-like teeth. Begs to reason that the troops may be aliens or even mutants themselves. Mutants being used against their own kind isn’t exactly new territory. Uncanny X-Men #19 featured a military officer that is more than willing to employ mutants to hunt and kill other mutants. Could this be a sign of what’s to come? Perhaps there’s a connection to the uniformed, shaven head characters on issue #1 of Powers of X? They remind me of what the authorities of Genosha did to their mutant slaves during X-Tinction Agenda.
6. Mister Sinister and Apocalypse get their own covers for House of X #5
Most of the covers for House of X and Powers of X present our mutant heroes front and center. However, there are at least two variants that treat a pair of the X-Men’s greatest foes with the same respect. HoX #5 has Apocalypse wading through a lonely marsh, while PoX #5 feature’s Mister Sinister standing in the midst of what is probably some experiment. Of the two, Sinister’s cover is the most interesting. In the foreground, you’ll notice hands breaking through what appears to be eggs or cocoons of some sort. Known for cloning and biological experimentation, whatever Mister Sinister is up to, it’s sure to spell trouble for Marvel’s Merry Mutants. Apocalypse’s cover may not be as dynamic, but his presence should never be overlooked. Whatever his role is in all this, I’m sure it’ll be worthy of the eternal mutant under Hickman’s pen.
5. What’s the deal with all the shrubbery?
Many of the covers have more just X-Men in common. Throughout them, you’ll also notice lots of strangely intrusive vegetation. It’s on more than 10 of the covers on both House of X and Powers of X. My finely tuned, Batman-level powers of deduction tell me that it might play a big role going forward. Not much has been revealed about the plot or even what the story may mean for the X-Men, but I did come across the phrase “Krakoa seeds” during my investigations. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’re probably like thirteen years old. And I hate you. But I’ll put that aside long enough to educate you.
Krakoa was a mutant that became a living island. In the first volume of the X-Men, it was powerful enough to capture Jean, Beast, Iceman, Angel, Havok, and Polaris. It forced Xavier to recruit not one, but two new teams of X-Men. The first team consisted of Vulcan, Petra, Darwin, and Sway. That team failed to defeat Krakoa, and most of them, save for Vulcan, died for their efforts. The second team of Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Banshee, and Sunfire, led by Cyclops, was successful in both stopping Krakoa and saving the captured X-Men. A smaller, more docile version of Krakoa came to be something of a pet for the Jean Grey School that was re-established after the Schism storyline. It behaved kind of like a guard-dog. Yeah, it was silly. Whether this is the same Krakoa or another, I guess we’ll find out. Could he be breeding a new home for mutants?
Among the throng of X-Men on the premier covers of House of X and Powers of X, you can find at least two young children. Although their purpose isn’t obvious, who they resemble is. On the House of X side between the Nightcrawler-looking character and Weapon-X (Wolverine), you’ll see a child version of Storm. From the look of her clothing, she’s plucked right out of her days on the streets of Cairo. On the opposite side, again between Nightcrawler and Lilandra, there’s an adolescent version of Havok. The presence of either suggests some sort of time travel. Unlike the armored mystery woman, I doubt they are the offspring of any X-Men, but exactly what they appear to be. Storm and Havok out of time. If you take into account that Phoenix (whether it’s Rachel or Jean) is also on the same piece of artwork, HoX and PoX are bound to take us for quite a ride.
3. A return of the Brotherhood of Mutants?
Throughout the many variant covers, I’ve noticed Magneto clad in white and several members of his Brotherhood- namely Toad, Mystique, Pyro, and Sabretooth. I find it most interesting due to the big red “X” belt buckle on Magneto’s waist. I also picked up on Emma Frost sharing a cover with the mutant terrorists. Again, also wearing an “X.” There are several issues to consider here, especially for the current readership of the X-Men. The last we saw of Sabretooth, he was feral and running free after being restored to his more animalistic ways by Mephisto. Mystique is a member of the new Hellfire Club, which is currently led by Emma Frost as of X-Men: Black. Magneto was among those transported to the Age of X-Man reality. Prior to that, he was not on good terms with the X-Men. Seeing him and Emma both wearing X’s is strange, but we don’t know how the events of Age of X-Man will boil down, or how, or if Emma will end her ties to the Hellfire Club.
2. How much is time travel involved?
Between the sheer amount of throwback costumes, and the two seemingly de-aged characters I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to expect that there is going to be some time traveling going on this summer. And I’m not just talking about Cyclops’ motley crew of subbasement scavengers. Retro versions of Storm, Dazzler, Bishop, Archangel, Jean, Jubilee and even Logan in his Weapon-X getup, can be clearly discerned on the House of X and Powers of X covers. There are even several dead characters. Some like Thunderbird that have been dearly departed for more than 50-years, and that’s before bringing up the possible daughter of Colossus and Kitty. If the House of X #2 variant which displays several versions of Kitty has any significance, we might also be in for some universe hopping as well.
1. So, Sentinels are obviously a thing again?Mast
Other than old costumes, weird bushes, old foes, dead people, de-aged heroes, and possible future children, there’s also the presence of Sentinels. The supposed guardians of mankind appear to be playing a large part throughout the summer event. With the function the variable-sized automatons typically play, it’s quite possible they and the unnamed soldiers I previously spoke about have a connection. If some of the stories take place in the future, the X-Men may indeed be heading for a timeline similar to that of Days of Future Past. Master Mold, Nimrod, and the classic building-sized variety can be found throughout the many variant covers and something tells me it’s not just to move units. On at least two of the covers featuring Sentinels, the backdrop is war-torn and post-apocalyptic. Chances are, they are what lies at the end of this road for the X-Men, or as usual, perhaps something they are trying to avoid.
What questions do you have after taking in this massive amount of variant covers? Let us know below!