So far, Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run has been nothing short of fantastic. While the story has jumped back and forth between House of X and Powers of X, there has been an overarching story and theme that’s connected the two into one story. A story that’s as much about the history of the X-Men, as well as its present, and its future. One that eventually leads to conflict with (as is inevitable with the X-Men) Sentinels. Powers of X returns the focus back to the “Year 100” timeline where a strike force of Earth’s remaining mutants attempt to steal something precious from Nimrod.
Hickman’s strength here has been in reexamining key stories and recurring themes in the X-Men’s history, while updating them for 2019. It isn’t exactly subtle that Year 100 is a riff on Days of Future Past, but one that works for the changes in both our understanding of what an apocalyptic future and technology look like since then. As opposed to Terminator-esque death camps for mutants: Sentinel technology has become so omnipresent that humans willingly put their own humanity on the alter to become just like them, while mutants are either just tools, or hiding away from Earth.
While the reasoning for separating House and Powers into two books that feed into one another didn’t quite make sense initially, it does now. Powers ultimately pares down to those key years of the X-Men, as well as dealing with how an already near-extinction mutant population can deal with an opponent that’s already won as thoroughly as the Sentinels have. You can’t really be described as anything short of desperate when you’re looking to Apocalypse of all people as a hero and for leadership.
The art has also been key to why Powers and House work so well. R.B. Silva’s work has been nothing short of gorgeous, especially with more detailed glimpses of the future Earth. But Silva also gets to flex more fight scene muscles here with everyone from Apocalypse, to Nimrod, to Rasputin, and Omega Sentinel getting a piece of the action. Marte Gracia’s lush colors do a great deal to add onto the proceedings, as well as highlight the weirdness of the remixed appearances of the Chimera mutants. The book as it exists wouldn’t be anywhere near as fascinating to read. Certainly not without the more expressive Nimrod we get here.
As far as where Powers stands as a solo book. It simply doesn’t. If you haven’t been following up until now, you’re going to want to start from the beginning. It’s a fantastic read, but it isn’t a singular story as a single issue, or without House to provide context for key moments. That said, if you have been keeping up: it’ll be a powerful read and one that I can’t wait to see the next issue of.
4 Crystals out of 5