Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Designer: Tom Muller
House of X #3 continues the riveting Hickman takeover of the Marvel’s uncanny mutants. Picking up on threads teased earlier in the series as well as plot points established in the sister series, the Powers of X. There is so much going on in House of X #3 it took me three readings to fully grasp the situation and each reading only opened up new questions and inquiries for me, which is a great sign that Hickman is doing his job since I have not been this interested in the X-Men for years.
House of X #3 on its surface looks like a mutant raid on a Mother Mold that is located in the orbit of the Sun. A Mother Mold we are told creates Master Mold’s which in turn produces Sentinels, the principle government produced antagonist for controlling mutants. Yet even though there is a raid on the Mother Mold by an eclectic group of X-Men, led by Cyclops, that’s not the most intriguing aspect of the story. Now it’s a great action sequence and shows how capable and dangerous the collection of X-Men truly can be and why world leaders would be fearful of a nation of Mutants under the leadership of Professor X. Yet it is Professor X that I am fascinated with. As I read and re-read the series Professor X feels more like a Cult leader then a political icon. I’m sure it is intentional that Hickman has yet to reveal Xavier underneath his Cerebro helmet and that his X-Men are loyal to a fault and that their attitudes and behaviors feel coerced or manipulated. In the beginning of the issue Scott seems unsure of the raid on the Mother Mold, that it will be a suicide mission yet Xavier ‘Calms’ his fears and uses the religious connotation of ‘My Son’ and insinuates that Cyclops will be remembered for his actions. Calling for sacrifice and martyrdom feels much more in tune with a Cult Leader rather than a political philosopher. I’m getting feelings of Jim Jones or David Koresh rather than MLK, who Xavier is often compared to. It’s an interesting characterization change and I am fascinated as to why it has occurred and no doubt has to do with Moira X and what occurred at the end of the Powers of X #3 and what the Mutant’s now know from the future and how they can avert their subjection by the Machines.
Yet House of X #3 isn’t all about the suicide run on the Mother Mold. There’s also some great legal proceeding and nation building and any fan of Emma Frost or the Stepford Cuckoos will love their return to form as they deal with the Humans trying to have a sentencing trial for Sabretooth. In House of X #1 Sabertooth, Mystique, and Toad will caught red handed stealing information yet while Mystique and Toad escaped Sabertooth was captured by the Fantastic Four. Now Emma Frost is invoking diplomatic immunity since Sabretooth is a mutant and therefore a citizen of the newly recognized mutant nation of Krakoa and henceforth cannot be prosecuted or sentenced by the United States government. It’s a great scene and I loved how both Sabretooth and Emma were written, as it is pitch perfect to their best characterization from years past and I hope Hickman revisits this in the future as I love the politics and religious tones Hickman is invoking on House of X.
Jonathan Hickman is at his best with House of X (and the Powers of X). The book feels like a Hickman book with layered plots that makes the reader pay attention to what is going on and to be willing to go back to read and re-read previous issues to fully grasp what is going on. He’s also playing with previous ideas and plots but is turning them on their head and taking turns either not previously thought of or allowed by the powers that be at Marvel. Pepe Larraz’s art is once again incredible. Early in the book it felt a bit rushed but bounces back later and his depiction of Sabertooth may be the most intimidating I’ve seen in some time. He is solidifying his superstar stature with this title and I can’t wait to see what he does on the final three issues and what he does next (hopefully more X-Men work). House of X #3 is also very much a Hickman book with text pieces and diagrams that are weaved into the story as well as clever logos and language texts. Tom Muller, a design specialist, is responsible for this aspect of the series’ and really does amplify the comic and has helped to create an outstanding comic reading experience.
Verdict: House of X #3 is an incredible addition to the already spectacular reboot of Marvel’s mutant franchise. Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, and company have crafted another great comic that is a reading experience and a Buy!