Why 'House of X' #4 Is One of the Most Powerful X-Men Comics in Years
Spoiler alert! Get a full analysis of today's groundshaking new issue.
Warning! This article contains spoilers about today's HOUSE OF X #4, so read on at your own risk, True Believers!
"This issue: everybody dies!”
UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #142 made that caption famous in the concluding chapter of Days of Future Past. But in HOUSE OF X #4, Jonathan Hickman and artist Pepe Larraz have upped the game by—again, spoiler alert—killing off several X-Men on a single suicide mission to space.
Now, these are not minor characters. Among the dead are three founding X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Archangel), two of the team’s most popular members (Wolverine and Nightcrawler), two Generation X alumni (M and Husk), and the wildcard, Mystique. All of them met rather grisly ends as they attempted to stop the Mother Mold from coming online. They succeeded...but it cost them everything they had.
At the moment, we have no idea if this is a swerve or if Hickman plans to find some workaround to keep these heroes alive in some way. After all, Cyclops, Jean, Archangel, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler have all been dead before. But we saw the bodies. It’s pretty hard to come back from that.
While the core story of this issue was a thrilling tale, the ancillary matter also shed additional light on the mutants’ plight on Earth. Did you know that there were 17,506,236 mutants alive on Earth? That changed during Grant Morrison’s NEW X-MEN (2001) run, when Cassandra Nova sent the Sentinels to wipe out the mutants in Genosha. According to HOUSE OF X #4, 16.5 million mutants died in that attack.
Subsequently, nearly one million mutants were depowered by the Scarlet Witch in HOUSE OF M (2005) #7-8. The Decimation is also listed here as the event that dropped the total mutant population to 198. That left mutants as a mere 0.000000029% of the remaining people on Earth. Note that the issue refers to the Decimation as the "mutant erasure by the pretender Wanda Maximoff." Scarlet Witch has tried to atone for her actions, but those words suggest that the mutant community at large has no forgiveness for her.
The issue doesn’t mince words about what this means for the mutants of Earth. These were acts of genocide that have nearly driven the mutant race to extinction. The charts note that there are new mutant births again, which was a direct result of Hope Summers and Scarlet Witch’s actions in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012) #12. Hope went on to lead “the Lights” in GENERATION HOPE (2010), so the population of mutants has to be larger than 198 now. But an exact accounting has yet to be given.
Another turning point in this issue comes when Professor Xavier makes a simple declaration: “No more.” The loss of his students and friends was clearly devastating. But even in this emotional moment, Xavier still kept his helmet on. What is he hiding under there? And does he have a way to bring back Wolverine, Cyclops, and the rest back to life?
It’s also worth noting that Moira X has yet to make her presence known in the current timeline’s present. HOUSE OF X #2 told us that Moira faked her death, but we still don’t know why—or what she’s been doing since her apparent demise. Those are some of the bigger questions that linger as HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X continue...
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