House of X #3 Review Video: Hickman Breaks the X-Men MoldOn August 29, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Is this the best comic story of the last 10
years? It’s too early to make a statement that definitive. But Jonathan Hickman’s
House of X/Powers of X story feels like it’s headed in that direction.
After 2 consecutive issues of Powers of X, House of X is with another fantastic
story. Powers of X #3 was exceptionally exciting and tense and featured a couple
“oh my god” moments. House of X #3 builds on the momentum of its
predecessor, this time in Moira X’s 10th lifetime. Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz
and Marte Garcia continue breaking the mold and most importantly, making X-
Men cool again. This is as exciting as comics have been since DC were pumping
out mass volumes of high quality content during the early days of Rebirth.
In many ways Hickman’s direction feels like X-Men Rebirth. The deeper we dive
into Hickman’s incredible reintroduction to X-Men the more convinced I’ve
become Jonathan Hickman is the future of Marvel Comics. If he’s not named
Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics within 3 years something will have gone terribly
wrong. Nobody has shown this level of understanding or thoughtfulness at Marvel
in a very long time. So yeah, this book receives my highest recommendation for
many reasons. Hickman’s X-Men is flat-out the best the comic the industry has to
offer today. Before I get into all the glorious details
of House of X #3 I humbly ask if this is your first time viewing the channel or if you’re
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Now on to the good stuff. Let’s break down all the details in my House of X comic
book review! I’ve already made myself very clear in the
2 previous House of X reviews. Pepe Larraz’s art is really good. He has a fantastic
feel for the setting and characters Hickman creates. The illustrations of Larraz,
along with color artist Marte Garcia, are critical components in making House of
X the hottest comic in the industry. And I gotta say this panel featuring Sabertooth
is absolutely metal. He looks extremely imposing, could give a damn and
you definitely get the sense that these massive shackles aren’t near enough to keep
Victor Creed subdued. I love the art in House of X. I rate it 4.5 out of 5.
This week’s reference materials are once again excellent. The best story aid is the
Sentinel to Nimrod Progression information. I really dig how Hickman’s exploring
two different evolutions of man. The mutants represent the natural evolution of
man to a higher stage of being. Machines represent the human desire to halt their
own demise and are unnatural evolution. They are man’s creation. Man’s refusal
to accept mutant evolution and fight it with their own machine creations
ultimately leading to the destruction of everything. This graph lays out the evolution from sentinel
to Nimrod, which represents machines ascendency to the most powerful force
on Earth. Nimrod can’t come to be in a vacuum. Several milestones must be
reached first. A fully operational Mother Mold represents a point of no return.
If the Mother Mold becomes operational Nimrod becomes inevitable. Making
the events in this comic hold a tremendous amount of weight. The last vestiges
of mutants in Moira X’s 9th life did their part. They discovered Nimrod’s creation.
Now it’s up to Cyclops and his team to do their part.
The story begins with Scott having one last conversation with Charles and Erik
before Cyclops and his team embark on a mission they can’t fail. Hickman does
masterful work elevating the importance of the events about to unfold. Thus far
Cyclops has been shown to be an absolute boss. He confronted the Fantastic Four
and didn’t have a worry in the world. Charles can hear the fear in Scott’s mind.
Scott responds very mater-of-factly, “Is it wrong that I’m afraid? That I have
doubts?” Charles responds, “Of course not. You’ve always been that way. What
matters is that you overcome it–and do so for your family.” Fighting to save your
family is the most relatable motivation in the world.
I really dig this dialogue but it gets even better when Magneto finishes, “For the
righteous can never truly die, They live on. Transformed into something immortal
by their mighty works–for you to die you have to be forgotten.” This is extremely
powerful. Legends can never die because tales of their bravery and sacrifice stand
the tests of time. Magneto and Charles are fully aware Cylops and his team may
never return. This interaction adds a incredible amount of burden to Scott and the
events following it. As Scott and his team (including Jean grey,
Wolverine, Angel and Nightcrawler) head off they have a very meaningful debate.
Jean wants to know about the human crew aboard the Mother Mold. Cyclops
states they are to stop the Mother Mold no matter what but keep casualties to
a minimum. These sentiments feel like wishful thinking. Logan chimes in with
a harsh dose of reality. “Innocent civilians don’t build machines to exterminate
a species.” This is probably my favorite scene in the
entire story. It rings very true to me. Before heading to Afghanistan my team and
I trained together for several months. These kinds of moral debates absolutely
happened and are very necessary. Heading to a hostile environment
is extremely uncomfortable and emotionally taxing. At least it was for me.
Everyone handles it differently and ultimately arrive in the battlespace with
their own perspective. But it’s exceedingly important to understand what your
teammates are feeling and thinking. They’re literally all you’ve got
on the battlefield. Kudos to Hickman for a job well done with a short scene that felt
important and true to life. The image of Sabertooth earlier is from a
side story involving his confinement at Project Achilles, a superhuman super-maximum
security prison. I do have a one issue with this part of the story that I’ll
cover during the plot. But it features a stand-out character moment for Emma Frost
aka White Queen. Agent Toliver has a pistol aimed right at her face. Emma is
not the least bit intimidated. She says, “Normally, I’d dominate that little
mind of yours and make you stick that gun where your last boyfriend left you.” Later
adding, “So why don’t you pretend that some larger American purpose is being
served here today…and I’ll pretend like you could have stopped me.” This is exceptionally
condescending and arrogant. Perfectly fitting the White Queen’s
personality. This week’s reference material breaks down
the Human to Omega Sentinel Process. And we get a deeper introduction
to Karima aka the Omega Sentinel. I hope Hickman covers the reason Karima was
chosen to become Omega Sentinel in a flashback or during the X0 timeline.
I have a feeling it’s really important. Karima gets a pretty cool moment that demonstrates
her strategic value. During the X-Men’s assault on Orchis she says, “That’s
disappointing.” When asked what she replies, “It’s a very linear plan for
a non-linear foe.” It shows a good understanding of the X-Men as an adversary
and higher level of military thinking. Karima doesn’t really shine yet but this feels
like groundwork for something major in the future.
Jonathan Hickman does an amazing job building stakes through perfect character
moments in this comic. These are the kind of details that separate good stories
from all-time great stories. I rate his characterization in House of X a perfect 5 out
of 5. It literally gets no better than this. Now I’m gonna cover the plot as best I can
without giving too many spoilers away. After his meeting with Charles and Erik, Scott
meets with his team to tell them about their fateful mission to destroy the
Mother Mold. To up the stakes he informs the team they won’t be taking any
Krakoa portal seeds with them. If they fail there is no “get out of jail free card.”
The team objects but Scott explains it’s too dangerous risking Orchis scientists acquiring
Krakoan seeds. The fate of the X- Men and mutant kind are in their hands alone.
The story then moves to the Project Achilles super-maximum prison trial of
Sabertooth. The White Queen arrives and reveals that due to an agreement with
the State Department all mutants, natural born or otherwise, now enjoy
diplomatic immunity as citizens of Krakoa. This sequence is very well executed but
was frustrating because the stakes are so high for Cyclops and his team’s mission.
Really wish Hickman could have found another place to execute this particular
act. On the Mother Mold the security team identify
Cyclops and his team’s ship incoming. The Mother Mold isn’t operational
so the defenses they have aren’t adequate to stop the incoming attack. There
are external security measures available but Cyclops and the X-Men planned
to execute this mission when they are too far away and the Mother Mold is vulnerable
for a short time frame. Nightcrawler uses his teleportation ability
to perform a short reconnaissance mission, discovering the presence of the Omega
Sentinel. Wolverine says, “We’ll deal with that when we have to…first things
first.” The team then dock and prepare to board the machine that will ultimately
destroy all mutants when it comes online. This story contains a fantastic
cliffhanger. I honestly might explode if next week’s House of X #4 doesn’t pick
up where this comic leaves off. The story in this week’s issue is an extremely
engaging and once again tension filled ride. I do have a small issue with
the inclusion of the Project Achilles material. It honestly feels out of place in
an issue this important. Other than that Hickman’s plot in House of X #3 is everything
I could ask for. I rate it 4.5 out of 5. Each and every week Jonathan Hickman and his
creative team raise the bar. Last week’s Powers of X story felt exceptionally
important. This week’s House of X story feels even more so. I’m not sure how
Hickman will top himself next week but at this point I’m certain he will. Pepe
Larraz and Marte Garcia’s visuals continue elevating Jonathan Hickman’s story.
This level of synergy is what all creative teams should strive for. Jonathan
Hickman’s characterization, especially the lead-up to the assault on the Mother Mold
really stand out this week. The sum of the parts greatly outweigh my one minor
complaint about the story. I rate House of X #3 5 out of 5. This is one of the
best modern comic stories I’ve ever read.
I’ve always been impressed with Jonathan Hickman’s ability to structure and
execute stories at enormous scale. I don’t really recall many moments from his
past work that connected with me on an emotional level. He’s certainly done just
that with these past two comics. Is this the best comic story of the last 10 years?
It’s too early to make a statement that definitive. But Jonathan Hickman’s
House of X/Powers of X story feels like it’s headed in that direction. Jonathan
Hickman and his strategic vision might be just what break’s the mold and makes
Marvel Comics great again. I truly hope this is just the beginning of a new Dawn at
the House of Ideas.