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 #3
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils by R. B. Silva
Colours by Marte Gracia
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover price: $4.99 USD
After the disappointing first two issues of Powers of X, it seemed like Hickman was struggling to make the series worth reading. Very little of the various plots seemed to matter to House of X, which remained engaging without Powers of X to supplement it. However, Powers of X #3 delivers a strong moment, helped by a more straightforward and linear structure, and a twist ending that, although making the previous two issues borderline insignificant, ties it closer to House of X in a way that makes it matter in its own way.
While the first two issues of Powers of X had numerous time jumps that created a disconnect between the various scenarios — I wouldn’t really call them stories, — this time Jonathan Hickman tells a linear narrative. Because of this, each moment and character has more room to breathe, which allows Hickman to better implement his grandiose dialogue in a less rushed fashion. The events of the issue themselves involves the future X-Men attacking Nimrod’s facility, and the ensuing battle allows Hickman to better define each character while paying off on what little setup he’s done with them. Nimrod in particular feels like the more interesting, less cliched depiction that we saw in the first issue, with Hickman giving him a strong sense of entitlement, childishness but menace and power.
However, the strength of this issue really comes with how it plays off previous issues of both Powers of X and House of X. The ending is strange — it’s a powerful moment and reveal, one that ties back to important concepts that Hickman has introduced, but at the same time it invalidates much of what came before in a way that makes me truly ask: why does Powers of X exist and what will it do now? That I’m asking these questions means Hickman has managed to pique my curiosity and engage me, at the very least, and that’s something previous issues of Powers of X have failed to do.
R. B. Silva once again delivers competent art, seemingly more at home with action scenes. His character work is fine, as always, but nothing exceptional — although his less subtle, more cartoony facial expressions further the childish depiction of Nimrod that Hickman presents. However, Silva seems to have a talent for drawing big, explosive powers, which he does an excellent job of here. However, his more melee-oriented fights are well done for what they are, never being confusing to read despite multiple of the same character being present. Silva’s last few pages of this issue are phenomenal, and, combined with Marte Gracia’s always excellent colours, do a good job conveying an otherworldly sense of science-fiction as well as sentiment.
Powers of X #3 does a good job of telling a regular X-Men story in a linear way. After the disconnected jumble that was the previous issues, it’s refreshing to read. The ending ties neatly into House of X and I think is a good note this series could have ended on. Instead, we have three more issues and I’m curious how they will be distinguishable from House of X moving forward.
3.5/5 – Good
Scene Spotlight: Moira’s Ninth Death
This issue’s standout moment is easily the last two pages. After the dread and death of the preceding pages, with Rasputin removing Xorn’s mask and Apocalypse sacrificing himself to hold off Nimrod, Wolverine is the lone hero remaining. He approaches a sarcophagus and opens it to reveal Moira. And then the scene plays out.
Logan explains what has happened to the readers and a clearly Apocalypse-esque Moira by mentioning that she will be able to quickly absorb the information they died to obtain. It makes it clear that Moira having the information was the endgame before Logan injects the information into her. The panels shrink as Logan comes to terms with what will happen, making him seem smaller in the face of everything. Logan is covered in shadow, clearly uncomfortable of what comes next, almost hiding from both Moira and it. He reveals the plan to Moira. He accepts that their world is beyond saving and tells Moira the same.
We finally see Wolverine’s face again and he looks truly sorry for what both he and the reader know he must do. Moira is accepting. We don’t see much of her face, as she projects some grace in the face of death. There’s no personal investment in her life here anymore and we don’t even get to see her expression. Other than when she speaks her last words to Wolverine, which are a kind and playful joke, as the panel shrinks once again. Then Logan kills Moira in an explosion of a panel, as the characters are silhouetted before the panel shrinks once again to a black void, only a dimming light of Moira’s life and this timeline — or a new light and life for Moira — visible.
This scene does an excellent job conveying what needs to happen and why it’s happening quickly while still giving us emotion in the characters. It helps that, unlike Rasputin and Cardinal, these are characters we know. We’ve just spent an entire issue learning about Moira and the idea of Wolverine reluctantly killing someone for the better of all is something we’ve seen enough for the scene to resonate. Silva’s layouts do a good job here as the action explodes and smaller, sentimental moments are presented as just that. This issue does a good job of closing the book on this dystopian future and this scene is the best way to close it out, showing that it all did matter in its own way, despite being just another past life of Moira’s
Thankfully, this issue wasn’t as bad as I was dreading. The ending was great, but it does make it feel like, unless time-travel is involved, the future we saw one thousand years after the X-Men’s founding is… well, pointless to show. It was there to add stakes for us the readers, but it’s not clear if the X-Men were even aware of it. Still, it works once you realise what’s going on… which I didn’t at first because I thought the X2 was a typo by Hickman, given some previous typos that he’s acknowledged have become a bit of a trend in his X-Men run thus far. That and we never caught a glimpse of the culture of humans in this era, so it seemed like the herald at the start of the issue was referring to the Phalanx from the X3 era. But yes, now we know that Sinister’s betrayal will be known by Moira, and this means the world as presented in House of X won’t lead to the oppressive machine-dominated future we’ve seen — and that maybe, just maybe, the X-Men are aware of what Karima Shapandar is doing and may stop her or even invite her to join Krakoa. Whatever the case, I’m interested in what comes next.
Next week is a big week, thanks to lots of Absolute Carnage and also House of X #3. I can’t wait, but I also have other things to do so… yeah, it’s gonna be a bit of a task. But Hanging with the HiX-Men is my priority above regular comic reviews, so that will definitely come out first. Plus, I’m just excited to get back to House of X, because I do still consider it the superior series. Some of that might just be down to the placement of the issues, with the parts of the story presented in House of X just being more interesting, but the end result is still me enjoying that series more.
Anyway, enough rambling. See you next week for House of X #3!