House of X #3 may start slow as the plot builds but ends with a bang that will make you (e)Xcited for the next issue. The sixth installment of Jonathan Hickman’s grand plan for the X-world releases today at an X-Mansion near you. Plus if you need some catching up check out our reviews of Powers of X, and House of X.
The last few issues Hickman has brought mutants, obscure references, and plots from the past into play. With House of X #3, he takes a more straightforward story. It may be heavier on dialogue than the, but plot-wise it reads smoother without the feeling of needing a Ph.D. in X-men.
MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW!
Last weeks Powers of X Moira was injected with the information on how to overcome Nimrod, House of X #3 picks up this plot with Professor X and Magneto sending a team of X-men to stop a group of scientists from making these advancements. Instead of wasting time having an exposition dump between characters, Hickman includes a graph/chart that explains how the information was received to make this possible. The graphs and charts included help expand the story and world-building greatly; while finally giving a full Krakoan translation and history on a graph.
With this information now in tow Professor X and Magneto task Cyclops as leader of the raiding of The Orchis Forge, which is one of the coolest looking spaceships. Before his departure, the duo gives him a quick motivational speech, which seems weird. The weirdness of the scene comes from the manner the duo speak to Cyclops and his response. The tone and wordage Professor X uses sound derogatory towards Cyclops, while his response seems like someone under mind control, or afraid of retribution if they mess up.
During this interaction of three characters, we have the only falter by artist Pepe Larraz. With this scene being the first of House of X #3 it opens on a wide rectangle panel of Cyclops standing under an arch of vegetation, while a bright illuminating light hits him from the back creating a ring of light around him; thus making him look angelic. The paneling, art structure, and lighting are magnificent for this moment, with the next being a response from Professor X and Magneto, then Cyclops responding. The problem with Cyclops’s response is Larraz reuses that amazing first panel in a cropped version.
Reusing panels is nothing new in the comic world, but when used the panel that is a copy directly follows the original, for either dramatic or comedy reasons. This case of using the same panel makes no sense here. With Cyclops responding to a question he is asked he should have moved even just a little, due to the sense of time flowing between panels. Instead, it seems he is frozen in time until his turn to respond, wherein he stands in the same spot.
Besides the aforementioned art blemish, Larraz does amazing throughout House of X #3, with colorist Marte Gracia helping (e)Xcel the pencil work. House of X #3 has some of the best lighting in comics. With the first Cyclops moment being one, then this trend carries throughout as the sun near The Orchis Forge is illuminating the whole panel making the X-Men’s ship dark, or in minor cases with Sabretooth in the courtroom; which is a scene we’ll touch upon later. Gracia’s placement and willingness to play with light and shadows benefits House of X #3 greatly.
The shadows Gracia adds in a scene isn’t something common in comics, but by adding this Gracia helps Larraz’ art stand out while feeling realistic. House of X #3 follows a few different locations throughout but has two main plots going on; Cyclops and team going to space and Sabretooth in court with Emma Frost and the Cuckoos showing up. As great as the space adventure with Cyclops and team is Hickman’s writing shines through in the court scene.
Opening with a retelling of the suspect’s crime Hickman doesn’t tell us the name, just the allegations, and the Counselors fear of the suspect. On the following page, Larraz panels Sabretooth as 75 percent of the page in shackles spitting, telling you everything you need to know about his character. What makes this opening moment great is Hickman and team make Sabretooth a surprise, since it’s not stating who it is, only giving the reader hints until we see the reveal.
Following the back and forth between the judge and Sabretooth, Emma Frost and The Cuckoos make their way in, with a bright light reflecting behind them; so bright Emma is wearing sunglasses. Through this scene, Emma makes her case and gets the raving mutant back in her care, the greatest part is Hickman showcasing how this can be done in a non-violent manner, with no mutant powers, and finally how above the law mutants may now be. All of this happens through dialogue with no action scenes happening, so Larraz plays with panels to make it less of a bore.
With how many dialogue bubbles there are it’s amazing how none of them feel too cluttered, but in a few cases the plot would’ve benefited if letter VC’s Clayton Cowles added a variety of narration boxes to help indicate who it is instead of sticking to a generic white box. There are a few moments of high tension or drama that would’ve also been improved upon if the lettering helped show the weight of the scene.
The House of X Continues (Conclusion)
Hickman and team continue to create the new epic for Marvel’s Mutant Universe. Making the plot and character grand in scale while still being fun and moving in the right direction. The writing is greatly complimented by Larraz’ fantastic art, and Gracia’s magnificent coloring and lighting. Being the middle part of a massive storyline House of X #3 could easily have been a speed bump, but instead, it adds so much to the plot, making the week-long wait even longer.
Memorable Quote: “Normally, I’d dominate that little mind of yours and make you stick that gun where your last boyfriend left you….” -Emma Frost
Can you say, I’m in love? Seriously, it’s always nice when writers remind us how cold and badass Emma can be!
Dear Fellow Mutants (Our Readers)
What did you think of House of X #3? While we’re on the subject of mutants, what power would you want? And who is your favorite mutant!? They don’t have to be in this book either!
I was always a fan of Iceman’s powers, and I live in Alaska, so I’d pick that power set. For my favorite mutant. Doop, hands down! Don’t judge me!