Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 8 — Powers of X #4 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 long-time 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 #4786503._SX1280_QL80_TTD_

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 conclusion of Powers of X #3, it was unclear what this would mean for Powers of X going forward. The series had so far jumped between the past, present, the future and an even further future, but it seemed like the futures were no longer relevant to the story. While it certainly feels that way, unfortunately, Powers of X #4 keeps showing us a dystopian future that is ultimately still barely connected to the rest of Hickman’s X-Men work, while not providing much of substance in any other area either.

This issue, like the previous has separate story threads. One follows Xavier and Magneto as they meet Mister Sinister near the X-Men’s inception, another depicts Xavier’s recruitment of Cypher into his Krakoa plan and the last features a dystopia in the far future where Earth is vying for the attention of the Phalanx.

None of these separate plot threads feel particularly connected and there is nothing to engage readers with this issue. The story with Sinister plays off the previous issues of House of X and Powers of X well, especially given that it’s established that he betrayed the mutant race in Moira’s previous life but is ultimately fleeting. For what it is, the story is interesting, and Jonathan Hickman perfectly captures the bombastic, flamboyant nature of the Sinister, but it is nothing more than further setup, albeit one that feels like it fits into Hickman’s story well.

Hickman’s Sinister is delightful!

While the Krakoa and dystopian future stories would be fine if expanded upon, they are just not engaging and do not feel important to Hickman’s story. The scene on Krakoa is fine for establishing how important Cypher is to Krakoa, which was already implied, but seems to exist largely because of the presence of the Phalanx in future stories. The two stories are tied together in a nicely subtle way, but the overall Phalanx plot just feels completely irrelevant to the more interesting present day stories about the mutant nation of Krakoa, not helped by its absence from many issues of Hickman’s run, as well as the complexity of the intricacies of the setting, making it all the more jarring that Hickman has put readers back into that world. However, the Krakoa story at least contains some nice callbacks to previous Hickman work and some interesting moments here and there that expand on the history of some recurring X-Men characters and provide some intrigue.

R. B. Silva’s pencils are serviceable, mostly in terms of expressions. Silva excels with Mister Sinister’s overblown expressions and mannerisms, which fit well with Hickman’s script. However, his character work struggles at other times, such as similar character designs making it difficult to discern who is speaking. Some moments also feel rushed and incomplete, as if they were missing panels. Silva is at his best when given simple scenes focused on exaggerated expressions and sadly Hickman’s script does not deliver that with this issue.

Once again, Marte Gracia’s colours are a delight. Gracia’s versatile colours provide Krakoa with a lush sense of life, bathed in sunlight and coloured in green hues, as well as blueish hue that gives the setting an alien quality. The danger and dread his red hues create in a flashback scene lend a mythic quality to it help to breathe life into the silhouettes of the figures Silva draws. Finally, the heavy blacks and muted colours of the future scenes assist in fully realising the bleak, lifeless landscape of Hickman’s setting.

Gracia’s colours carry this comic.

Powers of X #4 is sadly a return to the average quality of this series. While House of X has done wonders in world-building, utilising a complex structure and delivering rewarding, powerful moments, Powers of X has not. This series is still struggling to find a reason to exist beyond being a companion series, and its stubborn fixation on its dystopian future is just not interesting to read. Powers of X, at its core, is just too often not very engaging.

3/5 – Above average

No scene spotlight this time because this comic just didn’t have a standout scene for the most part. There were decent moments within scenes, but that’s about it.

Powers of X is just such an inconsistent series! I really hoped that we were done with the future settings after Moira died, but they’re still here. I can only see this being important again with time-travel, but even then, I just don’t care about the Phalanx. I really hope that this plot doesn’t carry over to the X-Men ongoing that Hickman is writing. Given its apparent focus on the Summers family, however, I would love to see Sinister in that series.

I have some uni stuff coming up, so the posts are going to slow down for two weeks or so. I will still be doing Hanging with the HiX-Men and my regular comic reviews — namely, Absolute Carnage reviews until some new series start — but just know that schedules will be slipping… more.

Anyway, see you all next week for House of X #5!

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