Best Shots Review: HOUSE OF X #2 'the Kind of Bold Evolution the X-MEN Desperately Needed' (10/10)

House of X #2
Credit: Pepe Larraz (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Pepe Larraz (Marvel Comics)

House of X #2
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Spoilers ahead.

Credit: Pepe Larraz (Marvel Comics)

"Days of Future Past." "Here Comes Tomorrow." "The Battle of the Atom." The X-Men are no strangers to alternate dystopian futures — but what is truly revolutionary about House of X #2 is that even when he’s exploring the world of mutants a thousand years in the future, writer Jonathan Hickman isn’t content to just explore what is to come.

Because with this issue, he’s now excavating the pasts that might have been.

For a series that’s already been staggeringly ambitious, House of X #2 continues to up the ante with a breathtaking retcon of one Moira MacTaggert — not just as a geneticist, not just as a muse for Xavier’s dream, but now reintroducing her as a powerful and incredibly unique mutant in her own right. While X-Men fans over the years have gotten used to shapeshifters, teleporters, and even conduits of limitless cosmic energy, Hickman recasts Moira with the power of mutant reincarnation — essentially living her life over and over again, but remembering each iteration as she starts over from the same time period in utero.

Credit: Pepe Larraz (Marvel Comics)

The implications, of course, are massive, and elevate Moira not just from occasional supporting cast member, but instead make her perhaps the most important mutant of all time. It’s almost overwhelming to see Hickman explore this system of life, death and reincarnation through the lens of Xavier’s dream of human and mutant coexistence — in one lifetime, Moira finds Xavier to have an arrogant god complex, while in another, they marry and die in each other’s arms in a burst of Sentinel fire.

But it’s insanity to simply repeat the same mistakes over and over again, and seeing each new iteration of Moira’s life — bouncing from self-hating mutant to peaceful idealist to hard-bitten killer — just adds more and more to the tapestry that Hickman is building. Because when you combine an eidetic memory with telepathic gifts, these alternate pasts aren’t just ghosts — they carry the weight of certainty and terror. The past is no longer just the prologue — these scattered lives have a butterfly effect, only the flapping of wings in one universe winds up causing a hurricane to go off in an entirely different timeline.

If all that doesn’t leave your jaw on the ground, artist Pepe Larraz really deserves due credit for executing on Hickman’s expansive plans with such conviction. This is the sort of story that could leave readers cold, with a less expressive artist at the helm — but Larraz really does a lot of the heavy lifting in helping make Moira such an endearing figure, even when she’s engaging in actions that could lead the planet to genocide or mass atrocities. There’s a scene in the middle of the book that feels like a Road to Damascus moment for our reincarnating protagonist, as she receives a hard lesson at the hands of Destiny and the Brotherhood of Mutants that essentially puts her on the path as the new savior (or destroyer) of mutantkind. With a series of six- and nine-panel pages, Larraz does some masterful work at pacing out what could be seen as some particularly talky scenes — but instead, he makes Destiny’s golden face mask seem eerie and foreboding, as Moira struggles to find meaning in the face of potential annihilation.

Credit: Pepe Larraz (Marvel Comics)

While Hickman’s work relaunching the X-Men has been exceedingly deliberate and thoughtful for the past two issues, I’ve found myself reading and rereading House of X numerous times, finding new angles and new layers with every new visit. It’s the kind of twist that we might describe as Grant Morrison-esque — but to be honest, if Hickman continues to pack so many ideas in such a dense series, we may be talking about a new benchmark for revolutionary X-Men stories soon enough. 'The Curious Case of Moira X' is unlike anything you might have read, and certainly not like anything you might expect. But thanks to her unique gifts, the mutants' universe has just grown exponentially — and to be honest, that’s the kind of bold evolution the X-Men desperately needed.

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