By Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia
The history of the X-Men has been a jumbled mess for quite some time now. When superstar writer Jonathan Hickman hopped on the X-Men franchise, one thing he wanted to do, was streamline the series and make it more accessible to all fans, new and old. House of X #4 dropped this week, and if you weren’t invested in the book before, you most certainly should be now. Hickman has turned the franchise on it’s head, and where this goes next is a guessing game. This is the most talked about the X-Men have been in easily a decade.
Jonathan Hickman is an X-Men fan boy. His love for these characters comes through in House of X and Powers of X. This issue, Hickman gives us a ton of surprises, as things take a deadly turn for some of our favorite mutants. The difference between this issue and other like it, is the emotion you feel reading it. Hickman has done a good enough job building up these characters, that he pulls emotion out of you when something happens to them. Comic books are a fairly routine affair. The chances of Spider-Man or Superman dying are usually fairly slim. We get 6 issue story arcs that usually wrap things up nicely and the characters move on for the next villain. With House of X #4, we honestly don’t know where Hickman will go from here. He’s set the stage for a huge world altering battle. One thing Hickman has done is write his Professor X as a cold character. A mutant who will do anything, including sacrifice his children to get what he wants. This character sets the tone for the entire series. The villains this issue will make you mad. You’ll find yourself hating them more than you ever hated Mr. Sinister. All this can be attributed to Hickman’s careful character building and great story.
The pencils this issue are handled by Pepe Larraz with colors by Marte Gracia. Larraz shines this issue right off the bat. Issue 3 ended with the X-Men’s ship blowing up, we open with some of the devastation from that. Larraz draws this well, including Wolverine missing pieces of his body. There are also very touching panels in this issue. As two heroes make a sacrifice, Larraz draws a perfect Cyclops looking out the window and taking in the gravity of the situation. The colors by Marte Gracia are gorgeous, as usual. The color palette is dark for this issue, but it works wonderfully since this is a dark book. One panel that sticks out is when a certain character sacrifices their life for the greater good, there is this amazing yellow sun that just keeps getting brighter and brighter with each panel. It’s a sad and beautiful panel, and Gracia and Larraz nail it.
With each passing issue of House of X, the stakes and excitement get raised. It really is a guessing game where any of this will go, but you must always trust Jonathan Hickman. The pencils and colors continue to be spectacular. This series is just the perfect team working on one of the best books on the shelf. House of X continues to be the best thing to happen to the X-Men.