Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 4 — Powers of X #2 Review

Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, followed by a spotlight of a specific scene and an eventual analysis of each overall arc once it is concluded. It’s what happens when a longtime X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience.

Powers of X #2781519._SX1280_QL80_TTD_

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils by R. B. Silva
Inks by R. B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto
Colours by Marte Gracia
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover price: $4.99 USD

Four issues into Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run and something has become apparent: House of X is the meat of his run, Powers of X is the supplementary material. With its second issue, Powers of X has demonstrated that it is a series that barely needs to exist, as it exists as a series of footnotes that barely connect to each other and form a narrative. While it does an okay enough job of playing off and furthering the plot of its sister series, Powers of X #2 can barely stand on its own as a comic.

Part of the problem with Powers of X #2 is the lack of any actual story. While there are connections between the various scenes in that we know they are in some way connected, and there is a degree of causality readers can see, the scenes in general feel disconnected from each other. Taken on their own, they are fairly bland scenes recycling old X-Men concepts with way too much speechifying; the dialogue becomes genuinely tedious to read when characters are making grandiose speeches for no apparent reason, sounding especially stilted at times. The characters themselves almost all sound like the same character, with the notable exception of Wolverine, who is still gruff — anyone else, and you can easily change word balloons around or not know who’s talking. Even Nimrod, who had a childish playfulness to him last issue, has seemingly devolved into a stereotypical monologuing supervillain.

On my first read, I thought Moira’s dialogue was spoken by Xavier.

Something that doesn’t help is the presence of the graphics and pages of text to provide exposition. While in House of X, and even Powers of X #1, they were well-placed and included relevant information for the scene at hand, here they feel like Hickman has lost sight of his narrative — or at least the semblance of one in this series — and is just world-building beyond what is necessary for the moment at hand. This, combined with the aforementioned unengaging plot and the stilted melodramatic dialogue paints Powers of X #2 has almost a parody of a Hickman comic. There’s only so far you can get by playing with continuity as well. While the signs of an interesting plot are there, Powers of X hasn’t yet delivered any strong plot of its own — the best parts of it are things that could very easily be included in the much superior House of X, because they are literally scenes following up the plot of House of X.

R. B. Silva’s art is competent and workman-like as always. He does a fine enough job with everything, and has an affinity for action — though this issue doesn’t allow him much room in that regard. Layouts are readable and do the job, but once again there’s nothing particularly standout about them, nor the blocking. Once again, Marte Gracia’s colours do the heavy lifting, adding mood and personality to otherwise dull scenes.

This panel did a good job waking me up from my nap as I read this issue.

Powers of X #2 does very little for Hickman’s overall story. Maybe it will read better once all is said and done. Maybe the entire miniseries will read better along with all of House of X. But as it stands, Powers of X hasn’t managed to justify itself as a comic book series as much as a series of footnotes, and a mediocre one at that.

2/5 – Below average

There’s no scene spotlight this week, because no scene was particularly worth dissecting or commenting on. Maybe the scene with Cyclops, but that’s just because I like Hickman’s Cyclops and there’s nothing special about the scene itself, in terms of writing or art. Keep in mind that I did a spotlight on House of X #2 last week even though I had an assignment due a day later, because I loved that issue that much and thought it had a scene that deserved to be spotlighted. So… yeah.

As you could probably tell, I didn’t like this issue very much. I think Powers of X is the Avengers to House of X‘s New Avengers, if I had to compare the two to Hickman’s previous work. Except Avengers at least had some good moments here and there of its own and some interesting new characters and ideas — Powers has none of those things. Anything that’s truly notable in it I can’t help but think would’ve been better executed in House of X, if it’s not attributable to House of X already in the case of last issue’s spotlight, with Xavier’s design and eeriness being present in the first scene of House of X #1, if not an outright menace to him like in Powers of X #1. I guess the opening scene with Xavier, Moira and Magneto lends itself to fan theories, since it’s strange that it takes place so early in the X-Men’s history (maybe this is in fact the life Moira lives after the one we’re familiar with?) but so does House of X #2.

But yeah, next week is another issue of Powers of X, and I… am not excited. In fact, next week has very little I’m excited for with comics: I’m dreading Powers of X #3 and Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1, and the only other comic I’m getting is Guardians of the Galaxy #7, which while good, isn’t nearly enough to carry the week. The week after though… that looks like it’s gonna be a treat.

See you next week for Powers of X #3.

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