If you’ve been following me on social media lately, you know that I’ve become particularly enamoured with the newest season of X-Men comics that have been coming out from Jonathan Hickman, R. B. Silva and Pepe Larraz.
I’ve been trying to articulate why in a matter that doesn’t involve getting neck deep into spoilers for one of the wildest superhero books I’ve read in quite some time, and I think I’ve finally cracked it.
EASE OF ACCESS vs IMPLIED BAGGAGE
With roughly 80 years of history behind them now, comics from Marvel and DC have the unenviable task of trying to remain appealing to as broad an audience as they possibly can… while simultaneously making a product that appeals to folks who they’ve already managed to grab. There always needs to be a push for something new while maintaining the core of the property so the thing can keep going forever. It is a ridiculously tough balance to strike, and I think Hickman has cracked the proverbial code in the pages of House of X and Powers of X.
The story functions in such a way that it is very specific to the X-Men. If the power dynamics on display happened with any other Marvel team, the whole thing would fall flat. However, the events in the books aren’t so specific that past knowledge is required. The characters could be replaced with a set of knock-offs without the implied history and everything would still remain functional. However, because this is the X-Men, the weight remains.
There are small bits layered in that are additive for someone who has an extensive knowledge of the team, but nothing is taken away from those who might not know all the minutia. It creates a beautiful ease of access that relies more on themes than past plot points, and builds something that looks forward to what comes next.
It’s a remarkable thing, to see something like this happen. Here’s hoping it continues when the line blooms outwards in October.