One week from today we will be halfway through Jonathan Hickman’s epic 12-part revamp of the X-Men line. The new series is as deep as sci-fi superhero storytelling goes with multiple timelines, new characters revealed, and heroes working with traditional villains to do the right thing. The third issue of Powers of X slows things way down with its entirety focused on year 100 as the remaining mutants face off against Nimrod.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As Xavier sows the seeds of the past, the X-Men’s future blossoms into trouble for all mutantdom. Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman (NEW AVENGERS, INFINITY, FF) continues reshaping the X-Men’s past, present and future with breakout artist R.B. Silva (UNCANNY X-MEN)!
Why does this matter?
Jonathan Hickman said in an interview I did with him at SDCC, ““We’re going in a radically different direction.” Need I say more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The issue opens at the Temple of Concordance where a priest of sorts anoints a human child with some kind of technological upgrade. Humanity is no longer without its techno-upgrades and the world is as dystopian as it can get. Enter the surviving Sol mutants who wish to fix all that is broken. So begins an issue that is a direct continuation of what was unveiled in Powers of X #2 as the remaining heroes aim to uncover hidden information. Apocalypse, Wolverine, Xorn, Rasputin, Cardinal, and Krakoa head in to a secret database to gain an edge against Nimrod and his army. This futuristic world is cold and quite heartless which you get from the very start. The entirety of this issue takes place over a few minutes but in it bleeds a new direction for the heroes which ties directly to Moira. She seems to be the crux of everything which is further proved here.
As the issue goes it Nimrod continues to be the best element. He’s a bit goofy but also incredibly dangerous and insane. Hickman and R.B. Silva finally open up the character’s fighting ability against super powered foes and he doesn’t disappoint. We continue to see how the humanity in this robot is its true failing which allows the heroes to get as far as they do when he argues with Omega over a disturbance. There are also shorter and more subtle moments with Apocalypse and Wolverine that shed some light on the struggle they’ve been enduring that may add up to answers as the story unfolds further.
The art by Silva with colors by Marte Gracia and letters by Clayton Cowles are nothing short of awe inspiring. Moments of great power and speed are gratifyingly displayed via chaotic explosions, blur, and atmospheric lighting. The story is basically about godlike figures who live at a sort of apocalyptic end times and it shows in their epic stature. The amount of character and pathos Silva puts into a face is stunning like a moment where Apocalypse must make a hard decision and the weight of it is all over his face, or in another moment where Omega realizes a mistake she has made may have cost her everything. Even Nimrod, who has an extremely unconventional face, reveals his peculiar less than perfect personality in his facial expressions. Cowles’ letters always seem to lift up the dialogue in just the right way while maintaining a clean look and feel. Saying all that I haven’t even touched on the incredible holographic computer systems Nimrod uses which are incredible to look at.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This issue might have the smallest feel of any issue yet. There is no time jumping which reduces its ability to say something wide sweeping across the settings and in doing so is so much smaller in its statement compared to the other chapters of this epic. It has also contained itself in an infiltration and an attempt to save the future that may not have needed an entire chapter devoted to it, but one could argue it’s this very fact that makes the conclusion all the more important. This conclusion does have a been there done that feel if you’ve watched your far share of time travel movies, but we’ll see how that pans out given we’ve seen year 1,000. If the contents of this issue were detailed over 6 pages its impact may have been less, but it still makes the entire package less important and reduces its readability value. The charts add a bit of value, but not quite as much as previous chapters.
Is it good?
Basically put, this issue is good, but it feels far less impressive due to the high bar the previous issues have set. The art is some of the best you’ll see all week in a narrative that’s gripping and hard to resist.