As the present-day story in House of X charges forward, with emotional impact and significant events, Powers of X continues to add detail and layers to the world surrounding the X-Men — in the past, present, and future all at once. Powers of X #4 is titled “Something Sinister” as Hickman adds a new player into the game — and possibly changes all the rules.
The story in the past introduces Mister Sinister as an additional player in the game that Moira, Charles, and Erik are playing. While this scene does serve that purpose well, its strength and place in the issue and series have much more to do with Hickman’s delightful character writing. Hickman had written Mister Sinister briefly during his Secret Wars event, where he was flamboyant and fabulous and sassy all at once and was just a joy to read. His presence in Powers of X is even better — he has some of the funniest, most entertaining lines and scenes that Hickman has ever written. This portrayal of Sinister expands on his portrayal in prior runs as well, such as Kieron Gillen’s short run on Uncanny X-Men, while adding new lore to his backstory such as the Bar Sinister: another idea from Hickman’s own Secret Wars expanded upon.
The story in the relative present still takes place a year prior to the events of House of X, as Xavier introduces Doug Ramsey to the new island of Krakoa. Doug reveals a new part of Krakoa’s origin and backstory that completely recontextualizes the island’s place in Marvel history, something that Hickman has done multiple times within House of X and Powers of X, with consistently excellent results. The story in the far future continues the story of X-Men after a millennium, as they try to ascend into a greater intelligence than their own. This part of the story is still moving fairly slowly, but promises to reveal something entirely new and different for the future of the X-Men.
As always, Hickman’s artists are just as important to the quality of the book as his scripts. R.B. Silva is a fantastic artist, and is continuing to put out some of the best work of his career on Powers of X. His mastery of facial expression for effect is on full display, as the entire scene with Sinister is an absolute joy to read every single panel of. Marte Gracia’s color work is just as stunning, and is also an incredibly well-done way to visually depict the different time periods within the comic, as X0 has a very red hue, X1 is seeped in yellows, and X3 is covered in blues. When the timelines switch towards the end without any captions to denote, it is still incredibly clear before any words are read, because Gracia’s color work makes each time period feel distinctive.
The data pages in this issue are fairly different from the majority of the ones Hickman has used prior. There’s a diagram depicting the Krakoan OS and its general design, as well as who is in charge of which section of the system. It’s well-designed, intuitive, and provides an interesting look into the inner workings of the mutant nation of Krakoa. The far more interesting data page, however, is a list of “Sinister Secrets” that all seem to be gossip from Bar Sinister, from Sinister’s perspective. These are eleven little blurbs that promise to add new things, small and large, to the world of the X-Men. There are callbacks to events that were never considered important, and hints towards even more Sinister shenanigans in the future.
As always, Hickman’s X-Men content delivers on its promise to drastically alter the way readers look at the X-Men. Adding new ties, bringing back old ones, and promising that there is still more to come, Powers of X #4 is an excellent continuation of the two series, with some of the funniest, most enjoyable X-content to date.