The first red issue of House of X and Powers of X revealed the massive game-changing status quo of Moira MacTaggart’s mutation, changing the concept, meaning, and purpose of the X-Men as a group for all time. House of X #5 is the second of three issues marked red, which seemingly promises another Earth-shattering status quo shift for the X-Men as a whole. As the entire run up to this issue has shown, Jonathan Hickman is able to deliver on the massive expectations he’s built for his X-Men line, and this issue is no exception.
There are three major scenes of import in this issue, each one with a plot event that shakes up the status quo for the X-Men. The first involves the very first scene of House of X #1, explaining who those mutants were, and what their importance was in Xavier’s grand plan. This is a massive, massive reveal, elaborating on the culture of Krakoa and how people view those of import within their society. This scene also has Magneto musing about when humans stopped moving around and first created a culture, which is an incredibly poignant monologue about Hickman’s intentions and desires for the X-Men moving forward. This is the focal scene and reveal of the issue, and it has incredibly strong, interesting implications for the future of the franchise.
The next major scene pushes forward a plot thread that has been running since House of X #1. Namely, the United Nations’ decision on whether or not to allow the mutant nation of Krakoa to declare sovereignty. This scene sets up the political status of Krakoa, as well as potential obstructions down the line. And finally, the last scene is yet another game changer, wherein Xavier, Magneto, and Wolverine welcome a large number of new additions to Krakoa. The final page of the issue is an instantly iconic splash page, setting up Krakoa’s relationship with mutantkind — all of mutantkind. This one scene has increased the amount of tension on and around krakoa one thousandfold, as the population has become far more volatile and interesting.
As always on House of X, Pepe Larraz’s artwork is phenomenal. The framing of certain scenes to make characters look almost messianic is masterfully executed, and every panel is colored gorgeously by Marte Gracia. Larraz’s attention to detail is incredible as well, especially in how certain items have purposeful reflections. A scene of characters in formal wear looks stellar, with everyone dressed elegantly and stylishly, with a nice attention to detail in the clothing itself. Gracia’s colors are also a major part of what makes each scene look gorgeous — the use of color to frame panels and moments adds to the effect of each page.
The data pages this issue add an incredible amount of information to the already jam-packed story. The first data pages are entirely about the implications and results of the first scene, and how it truly changes life for mutants. The scene was a massive game changer, but these data pages turn it from a surprising twist into a status quo that changes the stakes entirely. It also specifically points out ways that this new status quo could go wrong, which could either be Hickman lampshading potential theories, or setting up several Chekhov’s guns for when things inevitably go wrong. The other set of data pages has to do with the global response to Krakoa’s offer from the first issue of House of X, and sets up a very clearly impending conflict in the future.
After House of X #2, readers have been expecting big reveals in the rest of the issues marked red on the House of X/Powers of X reading list. House of X #5 does not disappoint, setting up another massive status quo shift as well as a new plot device to change the stakes for all the characters in this series. This issue’s implications will be dissected for quite some time, or at the very least until the next issue of Powers of X.