House of X #6
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia and David Curiel
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
“Is what we have perfect? No. What is? But it’s a start -- and a good one.”
House of X wraps up with this issue and provides some insight into how this new mutant Krakoan society will work while also giving us one of the most joyous celebrations of the X-Men. Jonathan Hickman and his artistic collaborators, Pepe Larraz, Marta Gracia, David Curiel and Clayton Cowles are in lock step at this point, balancing the large cast with ease and bringing a ton of energy to the book. This is a rare look at the X-Men without the infighting that usually defines them (but still with plenty of soap opera drama). This is a dream realized.
The main thrust of the issue concerns getting the Quiet Council together, deciding on some laws and putting Sabertooth on trial. As such, it’s a lot of characters sitting around a table and talking to each other but Hickman’s dialogue is razor sharp and he’s got a great handle on their individual voices. It helps that Pepe Larraz draws the hell out of this issue. He gives each character unique subtleties in terms of facial expression or body language that help bring them to life.
The Council comes up with three basic tenets for life on Krakoa that work so well in setting up whatever Hickman has planned going forward. They are: “Make more mutants. Murder no man. Respect this sacred land.” Hickman has in essence added three more Checkhov’s guns to an armory that already contains so many of them. Inevitably something will go wrong and it all started here. And since Sabertooth has broken the second tenet, they doom him to a life in stasis deep within the roots of Krakoa. From then on, the book becomes a celebration. The X-Men and their new allies crack some beers and watch fireworks while still sharing some knowing looks and longing stares. <p> Larraz, Gracia and Curiel knock the second half of the book out of the park. It’s been a long time since we saw the X-Men happy and the art team captures the feelings present at the dawning of a new age for mutants. While the council scene is much more buttoned up, this fireworks display allows Larraz to open up his layouts a bit and show tons of side characters interacting with each other all over the islands of Krakoa. Gracia and Curial handles the lighting from the fireworks incredibly well, never letting it overwhelm the pages but instead letting it light scenes like something closer to daylight. In doing so, they allow Larraz’ linework to come through and the interactions on some of the silent panels to be realized more easily.
I can’t remember the last time the X-Men was this good. It feels fresh, relevant and important. It feels more like the minority allegory that it’s purported to be than ever before. In true X-Men fashion, there’s interpersonal conflict and big superhero stakes building side by side creating a powderkeg that is sure to explode with the release of the finale of Power of X next week. Hickman, Larraz and the rest of the creative team have created something that is as status quo changing as Giant Size X-Men #1. It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan.