Powers of X #6
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia and David Curiel
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
“You really want them to know that we always lose?”
This is it. This is the end of the beginning. Twelve weeks, twelve issues and Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia and David Curiel have redefined what it means to be a mutant in the Marvel Universe. Power of X #6 sticks for the landing for a heady new era of the X-Men and introduces the threads of conflict that will bleed into the "Dawn of X" starting next week. But that should be expected. Hickman manages to do even more here that’s akin to Grant Morrison’s approach on Batman: everything matters. How it all fits together is what’s so exciting.
Moira MacTaggart hasn’t been as present over the last few issues as she was in the beginning, but that changes here. She’s the key to this whole take, and Hickman uses her to frame everything that we’ve seen so far. As this half of the series is wont to do, we spend some time with the post-humans of the far future - beginning to better understand their role in the story and how the Ascension and assimilation of their race with the Phalanx leads to so much of what we’ve seen to this point. And it sets up all the conflicts that are to come. Is the post-human ascension inevitable? Are Charles and Erik really prepared for what’s coming? Will Orchis retaliate for the destruction of the Mother Mold? What about Sabretooth? What about Mystique’s request? What about Apocalypse’ original horsemen? What about Arakko?
This is a revelatory issue, and Moira’s diary entries provide us rapid-fire recontextualization of Hickman’s approach to the X-Men. And when we see Moira in the present, we understand the stakes of this undertaking. The X-Men always lose, and understanding that this happens because humanity stole and commoditized every aspect of mutant identity is a chilling reminder of the struggles that minorities face in a world that hates and fears them. Hickman managed to effectively update the mutant metaphor for a broader spectrum of experiences that enables readers to move past the tired MLK/Malcolm X comparison that has hindered the concept.
R.B. Silva and Pepe Larraz tag-team this issue though, there’s not so much new art as there are repetitions of moments we’ve seen before with a greater understanding of what got us there. But much like the last issue which worked as a celebration of what the X-Men and what mutant society can be, this one celebrates the artists themselves. When you see their work side-by-side, there’s a flow to it, a sort of call and response. Larraz is the more unique of the two, with Silva maybe recalling Stuart Immonen a little too much at times, but you can easily see why these two were tapped for this project. Both have a great handle on the subtle emotions that are present in Hickman’s script, and both are able to give us moments of great acting from these characters. Marte Gracia and David Curiel hold it down on the coloring end, working to highlight the strengths of both line artists across the issue.
This has been an incredible journey so far and if this couldn’t get you onboard for what’s coming, I’m not sure what will. Hickman’s work can be knotty and difficult at times, but pushing a 50+ year old franchise forward is no easy task - especially a franchise as mired in nostalgia as the X-Men. That said, Hickman is finding inspiration in the stories that came before. He’s trying to piece them together. He’s trying to make everything relevant because he knows how frustrating it is for fans to see their favorite characters and concepts tossed aside by a new creative team. Ultimately, House of X and Powers of X landed exactly where it needed to - it set up the next bunch of stories and said to readers, “Welcome to the X-Men. Hope you survive the experience.”