How House of X Changed Marvel Forever | Explains

Under Chris Claremont’s shepherding, The X-Men became the highest selling single issue comic book of all time However, they spent the better part of the last decade floundering Today, we’re going to examine why Jonathan Hickman is the guy to restore the X-Men to their former glory, and why Marvel’s merry mutants might just provide the canvas for the greatest mainstream superhero story ever created I’m Dave Baker Today on Total Nerd, we’re going to explain why the House of X is the most important X-Men status quo ever [MUSIC PLAYING] Before we get started, be sure to subscribe to the Total Nerd chat Oh, and leave a comment, too, and let us know what pieces of comics history you’d like us to explain next OK Let’s do it [MUSIC PLAYING] Just for some background, in the early 1990s, after the speculator bubble burst, Marvel had to declare bankruptcy In the ensuing aftermath, they attempted to sell off the film rights to their characters in order to stay solvent Fox bought the X-Men and the Fantastic Four Universal picked up Hulk and Namor Sony, they snagged Spider-man and Columbia grabbed Daredevil Smash cut to a solid decade of superhero movies dominating the landscape And Fox’s X-Men becoming the highest grossing entry into the genre And Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s long-time curmudgeonly CEO and human snapping turtle basically shutting down the X office because he didn’t want Fox to profit off of Marvel’s work He did this by hamstringing the books and having a no new ideas, no new characters unwritten edict That made for nearly a solid decade of recycled plotlines and attempts to turn the Inhumans into a replacement X-Men, and the just bland X-Men comics that were being published Before you start yelling at me, yes, there were some good standouts But mostly the X-Books have been really bad for a really long time You know it’s the truth [MUSIC PLAYING] Which brings us to a turning point Disney, the great and powerful monopoly creating machine, decided to spent $71 billion dollars buying Fox, which is really bad for the entire film industry I know what you’re thinking, but at least the X-Men will be in the MCU Sure The real answer is, if we have to live in a world where all our entertainment is run through a family-friendly sieve of the House of Mouse at least the X-Books are going to get some [BLEEP] shine, baby! Which is why our Lord and Savior, old Johnny Hihi was lured back into the fold of the House of Ideas Jonathan Hickman, baby Jonathan Hickman [MUSIC PLAYING] Born on September 3 in 1972 in South Carolina, Jonathan Hickman worked as a graphic designer and art director before breaking into writing comics Hickman came to prominence as one of the writers and illustrators of the image comics series The Nightly News in 2007 From there, he had critically acclaimed runs on Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, Shield and Avengers, along with numerous creator-owned books, like Manhattan Projects, East of West, and Black Monday Murders He’s one of the last few standing A-list comics writers who hasn’t been kidnapped by a massive, anthropomorphized check that says, Hollywood payday, right on the front, which probably has bendy arms and like a top hat, or maybe a monocle? Hickman’s previous work at Marvel climax with his universe-redefining crossover Secret Wars However, the process of writing this 200 issue Avengers run and the nine issue Maxi series completely soured him on the corporate system of making comics He swore off working for Marvel ever again and left the comics industry to work for the previously mentioned anthropomorphized Hollywood check [MUSIC PLAYING] I’m realizing that before we dive into House of X, it might be helpful for some people to have a rough idea of the timeline of important X-Men events So how about this? Stan and Jack, the original five, giant-size number one, by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, [INAUDIBLE],, a whole bunch of other people, Jim Lee, Maggott, Fox mix of movie starring Hugh Jackman, Grant Morrison, Disney, Ike Perlmutter loves the Inhumans, [INAUDIBLE],, some other stuff, and Johnny Hihi [MUSIC PLAYING] On March 23, 2019 in Chicago’s C2E2 Convention, Marvel announced a bold new direction for the X-Men line– two new titles being shepherded by Jonathan Hickman, with art by Pepe Larraz and RB Silva, and being colored by Marte Gracia With scant few details apparent, Marvel left the internet screaming into the void, what does this mean? Weapon-X Wolverine? ’90s Cyclops? Red Nightcrawler? Normal Nightcrawler? Steely magic-y woman? Professor X in a well-tailored suit? Mohawk Storm? Baby Havoc? Street Urchin Storm? What does this mean? How are these people all together? What does this mean? In a press release Marvel issued at the time, Hickman said, “Let me just say that I have radical, radical plans for all of you I grew up primarily as a DC guy The only books I read at Marvel growing up were the X-Men All the books I’ve done up and to this point, those were fantastic jobs But they were jobs This is the first book I’ve loved before I started doing it.” Rumor had it the House of X and Powers of X actually started as a pitch for DC’s Legion of Superheroes

You see, about two years ago, Hickman was discussing signing an exclusive deal with DC Comics However, when Brian Bendis, Marvel’s golden goose, ran afoul of Marvel’s brass and left to work at DC, Marvel President Dan Buckley called Hickman’s home and asked him what would it take to bring Hickman back into the fold And what was Hickman’s response? He wanted three things– a dump truck load of money, creative control, and the X-Men [MUSIC PLAYING] After about six months of hype, interviews, and hyperbole, Marvel finally released Peter Hickman-led books that would redefine the X status quo for the foreseeable future– two six-issue books, each being released bi-weekly, which basically means one 12-issue weekly series Even when it’s new, the X-Men still hurt me in the same old ways Hurt me again, Daddy Hickman, hurt me again House of X centers on a mysterious version of Professor X, who always has his face hidden in a very fashion forward cerebro-helmet, working to unite humankind to create an independent sovereign nation state, known as Krakoa Powers of X centers on four parallel timelines that chronicle the history of future mutants Each timeline being a Power of 10, X to zero power, X to the first, X to the tenth, X to the 100th The initial few issues of the series set up a world that’s radically different from the X-Books we’ve been reading In a sinister opening sequence, a prancing Professor X uses a massive organic tree to hatch unnamed people– presumably this guy, a cyclops– out of eggs After which, he says his iconic catchphrase, to me, my X-Men What’s going on here? Who is this? Professor X is evil now? Is this someone else masquerading as Professor X? Since when does Professor X hatch egg people babies? Last time I remember seeing Professor X, he was roaming around in Phantom X’s body Is this the same Professor X? Did some of that Nazi evilness rub off on him from when the Red Skull stole his brain when he was dead the last time? [MUSIC PLAYING] The first issue of House sets up that Magneto’s working as an official ambassador who is meeting with representatives from all over the globe to establish diplomatic ties On the newly founded would be nation state of Krakoa, we learn that multiple types of flowers produce chemical compounds that can be used as drugs to help humanity– Human drug L, a drug that extends human life for five years Human drug I is a super antibiotic And human drug M, a drug that cures issues with the human mind, like Alzheimer’s or dementia What does Professor X do? Does he give these medicines out to humanity to build goodwill and foster an environment of understanding and tolerance? No He withholds them by means of which to strong arm the world governments into recognizing the sovereignty of Krakoa I mean, if you were actually running a small nation state, this kind of makes sense However, what happened to the criminally optimistic Professor Charles Xavier? Old Chuckles isn’t the only character that’s acting abnormally Who’s this guy rolling around in the grass with these kids? That’s not what Wolverine does He’s a brutal killer He’s a man with no past, uh, until they retconned it and gave him a past He’s a wandering two foot tall Canadian samurai with a bad attitude He doesn’t want to hang out with little kids, right? OK Aside from James Howlett and Jubilation Lee going on small mall adventures and drinking Orange Julius, or whatever it is they do in their free time OK And he literally co-headlined a book with Kitty Pryde OK Fine Well, maybe it’s not weird for Logan to kick it with kids But, still, this just feels really strange to me [MUSIC PLAYING] The next running plot throughout the series is the fate of one Victor Creed, eater of babies and lover of the word, “runt.” In the opening issue, Creed, who’s been actually a good guy since the AXIS crossover, is back to his usual dastardly furry shouldered deeds He’s on a mission with Mystique and Toad to steal a drive full of top secret information from Damage Control Headquarters During the escape, Creed flies off the handle and murders numerous human security guards, which, you know, is empirically not a good thing But are we really surprised? No, not at all Nothing says, “I like murder” quite like costumes with furry upper torsos Think about it– Kraven the Hunter, Captain Cold, Lady Kraven OK So maybe it’s just Victor Creed being a psychopath This trio of former local 183 Brotherhood of Evil mutant dues payers are stopped by their Fantastic Four while fleeing Mystique and Toad narrowly escaped through a portal But Creed is captured by Marvel’s first family Cyclops shows up and informs them that Krakoa’s offering Sabertooth amnesty Reed Richards balks at this Just sit tight, uh, we’ll revisit this later Back with the government officials, Magneto reveals that he’s not been totally honest This meeting wasn’t actually to broker trade relations between the various world governments and Krakoa It was so Magneto’s psychically powered assistants, the Stepford cuckoos, could read the minds of the diplomats and learn how the other nations of the world were plotting to overthrow the Mutants This is interesting because it immediately shows the trajectory of the new status quo This is going to be a grounded take on the X-Men that’s dark and gritty without being descendant from Frank Miller and Alan Moore, and grimdark bull [BLEEP] House’s sister book, Powers of X,

centers on a broader picture of the X-Men universe It jumps around in time, showcasing seemingly for the first time Moira MacTaggert meeting Professor X. It also features in the far future, where mutants are being hunted by a human robot alliance And if that wasn’t far enough in the future there’s also a blue, bald alien maybe, mutant, referred to as The Librarian who watches over a habitat of human-looking people being imprisoned So the most interesting thing about this dystopian X future is that it doesn’t feel like Days of Future Past, Age of Apocalypse, or seemingly every issue of The Exiles ever produced It’s its own thing, which is kind of refreshing Well, as much as mutants are being hunted by bigots and there a purple robots everywhere, that’s just a given This timeline has multiple generations of sinister back-genetic hybrid clones of former X-Men These are new characters, including Rasputin, a.k.a., the previously mentioned steel magicky woman, who’s a combination of Kitty Pryde, Unus the Untouchable, Colossus, X-23, and Quentin Quire And then there’s also Cardinal, an amalgamation of Azazel and Nightcrawler and presumably others that we don’t actually get access to in the data pages, but whatever Nothing says bad ass like metal skin and a massive sword I read a whole book about her R.B. Silva draws the [BLEEP] out of her Look at this Rasputin Look at this Ah, there’s no way that she’s going to survive this, goddamn it [MUSIC PLAYING] Which brings us, arguably, to one of the best retcons in modern comics history Spoilers ahead [ALARM] No, really, if you haven’t read the book, you might want to stop House of X Number 2 showcases a recontextualized Moira McTaggart, one of the longest running and much beloved supporting X characters Just as a reminder, she’s a human You probably remember her like this, or like this, or, sadly like this Well, the big retcon Hickman gave us is Moira has always been a mutant Her ability? It’s deceptively simple Her mutant gene, which manifests at adolescence, is that she can reincarnate herself and maintain the memories of her previous life Confused? Well, here’s how it works Moira’s abilities, as explained to her by destiny, are that she has 10, maybe 11, lives Every time she dies, she goes back to the moment that she was born and is reborn again Think of it like Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow, but with the ability to make the world safer for mutant kind Yeah, here’s where it gets even crazier Moira has been working to better mutant kind from behind the scenes, dying and trying again and dying again for nine lifetimes Over the course of these lifetimes, Moira has tried everything She sides with Magneto in one timeline then courts Apocalypse in the next She becomes a Sentinel hunter and even mutant utopia founder with Charles She tries every combination of powers and alliances and nothing works All of these plans, fail Mutants, they always fail [MUSIC PLAYING] This retcon is notable for two attributes, one, what happened to Moira’s sixth life? Notice, there’s no sixth life on the graph of all of her lifetimes Two, which life have we been watching in the main line 616 continuity, the 10th, which means that if they don’t get it right this time, it’s all over, maybe Destiny did say that Moira could reincarnate 10 or 11 times Basically, that’s it The stakes are high until the book doesn’t sell and then Marvel hits the hard reboot button on the status quo that’s too complex for them to tell a broader superhero stories on, just like how they jettisoned the whole Grant Morrison New X-Men status quo immediately after he left, such a shame Looking at you Shinzon From there, the three of them concoct a secret plan on how to unite the mutant world, build a sovereign nation state, and forge a future for themselves that doesn’t involve every mutant being rounded up into cages and being forced to wear hideous olive jumpsuits That says sadism and vindictiveness more than forcing fabulous mutants, who just consistently are decked out in garish neon Spandex, to live a life filled with olive jumpsuits Even the word olive is boring, olive So that brings us to our first Professor X conspiracy theory Is Moira somehow inside Professor X’s mind? There have been lots of people saying this, personally, it doesn’t really feel right on the money But it feels close to it I don’t think she’s mind controlling him But there’s something evil happening It feels like there’s something going on with old chuckles being slightly altered from his normal compassionate self [MUSIC PLAYING] Here’s where things kick into high gear The X-Men, led by Cyclops, use the information gained by Mystique to deduce that a mother mold, a machine that makes master molds, is being created by a conglomerate of human scientists called Ochiris If you’re not familiar, a master mold is a machine that makes Sentinels, you know, those giant, purple mutant hunters So, understandably, the X-Men are very scared of a machine that manufacturers master molds The X-Men attack the base

And one by one, they’re murdered by the humans That’s right They all die They succeed in the mission The mother mold careens into the sun But the X-Men all die Again, right before they’re about to die, it means are acting real weird And who’s under attack by a bunch of soldiers, transforms into pennants? Yeah, the Generation X character What’s going on? On a slightly more subtle note, Wolverine asks Nightcrawler, what happens when they die, which is weird because they both just came back from the dead In fact, Wolverine literally led a cadre of X-Men to pull Nightcrawler from heaven in order for them to go to hell and stop an invading army of vamps led by Nightcrawler’s father Oh, you know, and the whole Wolverine being encased in adamantium storyline with the incredibly subtle title of The Death of Wolverine But back to what’s important, the X-Men are dead What’s going to happen next? We all know that death in comics is permanent No one ever comes back, ever When you die, you stay dead, right? And definitely not Phoenix, Wolverine has previously mentioned, Cyclops, Captain America, Superman, Swamp Thing Shout out to that one guy who got annoyed at me in the comments for spilling the twist of [INAUDIBLE] never actually being human and always being a sentient bog This one’s for you, my dog But still, how is Hickman going to get himself out of this one? We all know the X-Men have to come back, right? Right? Right? Shall we give it a moment of silence for our definitely, definitely permanently-dead X homies? [MUSIC PLAYING] And here’s where we get our next big revelation Those mutants the opening sequence that were being hatched, there are these X-Men, Professor X with Mr Sinister’s technology, Krakoan birthing chambers, and mutants fueling it has built a machine that’s able to clone any mutant ever Professor X has built a team of mutants dubbed The Five to power the machine Those mutants are, my dude, Fabio Medina, a.k.a Goldballs, Hope Summers, Josh Foley, a.k.a Elixir, Eva Bell, a.k.a Tempest, and Kevin McTaggart, a.k.a Proteus, Moira McTaggart’s son I know what you’re thinking What the shit is Goldballs doing here? That guy sucks Well, and yet another awesome retcon Goldballs’s power to seemingly produce gold balls is changed to produce gold-colored eggs And when combined with everyone else’s powers and the Krakoan incubation tubes They’re perfect cloning chambers This, much like all of the changes that Hickman has made, is a dual-purpose, status-quo shift It’s in part to make sure that none of the X writers can take the easy way out of a storytelling device and just end the story with, and then we’ll kill– insert much beloved X-Man here And, also, it’s a way to embrace a new level of fear and misunderstanding The mutants have always been feared and loathed by mankind But with new and ever more mystifying leaps in technology, the X-Men are pulling away from a standard minority being persecuted allegory and more into a complexity of an alien culture living on Earth The moral implications of consistently cloning your adopted superpower, Spandex, child-soldier family, it’s nuanced, to say the least [MUSIC PLAYING] OK, let’s check back in with this, who is this Professor X? He’s just not the same old same old We quickly learn that Charles has been improving and updating Cerebro to automatically make copies of not just these people’s DNA, but also psychically-harvested memories So does that mean that this Professor X is a clone? Maybe Here’s two additional clues In this scene from Powers of X 5 where Charles Xavier is quizzing Forge On the logistics of upgrading Cerebro, it feels like every line has a really sinister undertone Look at Charles Xavier’s eyebrows That’s not normal Charles Xavier eyebrows Yes, old Chuckster loves his personal grooming But what he lacks for in follicle fortitude on top, he makes up for in dem brows, brah! But these eyebrows, they’re like the equivalent of a twirling mustache Or check out this scene from Powers of X Number 4, where Professor X is dressed in a pith helmet and safari jacket talking to Doug Ramsey on Krakoa That seems like a normal thing to do You’re in the jungle Yee! You’re going on a trip No What about the fact that Professor X’s evil twin sister, Cassandra Nova, wore basically the exact same costume More food for thought, my friends, food for thought [MUSIC PLAYING] From here, Professor X puts out an international decree that every mutant is Welcome on Krakoa Everyone has diplomatic immunity All mutants, no matter how grave their past sins are, are welcome Here’s where the rubber hits the road Every villain, ne’er do well, and [BLEEP] punk mutant walks through those portals to join the X-Men We’re talking Omega Red We’re talking Marrow and Mastermind We’re talking Callisto, Mentallo, and Daken We’re talking the Acolytes, Forearms, and Gorgon

But it all pales in comparison to the big blue menace himself in Sabah Nur, Mr. Survival of the Fittest, Apocalypse As if the other deviations weren’t enough to get you to read this, Apocalypse being welcomed into the fold is pretty freaking awesome Also, look at the way he enters Look at that, man It’s like– it’s like the Grimace from McDonald’s crossed with a John Woo movie Look at all the slow-mo doves [MUSIC PLAYING] And now we get to quite possibly the weirdest and least expected aspect of Hickman’s health status quo Most comics don’t have time to go into the more mundane or banal aspects of their seemingly flashy, high-concept ideas, like, usually a comic about setting up a nation state run by mutants of which there have been quite a few, they don’t actually focus on the inner workings of said government at all Well, this book might as well be Hickman’s hold-my-beer manifesto The new mutant government is run by a council of 14 mutants who all have to vote on any issue that arises They have three golden rules– make more mutants, murder no man, respect this sacred land The council is composed of four tables of three mutants each The Autumn Table is Professor X, Magneto, and Apocalypse The Winter Table is Mr Sinister, Exodus, and Mystique The Spring Table– Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, and a mutant to be named later Summer Table– Storm, Jean Gray, Nightcrawler And, finally, the aptly named Krakoa Table is Krakoa and Doug Ramsey, a.k.a Cypher And here’s where we see our first example of how the council actually works Remember that whole– the fate of one Victor Creed, eater of babies and lover of the word, “runt,” thing? Well, that’s been leading up to this Victor Creed has been extradited back to Krakoa because the X-Men have asserted that he’s been grandfathered in citizenship as a birthright of being a mutant However, despite not standing trial in a human court for his crimes, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to get off scot-free The X-Men engage in a debate of what to do with him, ultimately landing on that he’s broken one of the three sacred mutant laws, you know, the whole murder-no-man thing So what do they do? It’s not like they can give him the death penalty The five in Krakoa basically negated the concept of death So what’s worse than death? Imprisonment at the center of the Earth and a lightless void Actually, yeah, that– that’s exactly what they’re going to do Krakoa snatches Creed Drags him into a black, gaping maw And thus we arrive at the fate of one Victor Creed, an eater of babies, lover of the word “runt.” He’s doomed to rot at the center of Krakoa for all time until something happens and he gets out to seek revenge, which is basically inevitable [MUSIC PLAYING] Yet another Hickman-esque long-term setup, the UN votes to recognize Krakoa as a fully sovereign nation-state And the vote passes The mutants officially have a country But at what cost? Emma Frost has been working behind the scenes, and she telepathically manipulated a few UN council members to authorize Krakoa as a nation Obviously, this is going to come back and bite the X-Men in the ass eventually It almost feels wrong calling the mutants X-Men now They’re pushing for what they feel is a better tomorrow, but, man, is it morally gray [MUSIC PLAYING] In a final secret that Magneto and Professor X are keeping from everyone, we learn that Moira is still alive despite having died in mainline continuity Obviously, she faked her death It’s OK It’s comics She’s living in a space-time pocket bubble thing She’s been scheming and working with Magneto and Professor X to build this paradigm We also learn that Moira has a single rule that she’s making Charles and Magneto follow, no precogs, the condition she is not flexible on, none As a condition for helping them, Mystique made Professor X and Magneto agree that they would resurrect Destiny, Mystique’s longtime romantic partner and fabled futures seer Moira is very unhappy about this She’s doing everything in her power to stave off the inevitable, that mutants always lose [MUSIC PLAYING] The series ends with a massive mutant shindig There’s fireworks, dancing, old enemies being friends, Wolverine, and Cyclops, and Jean Gray seeming like they’re a little too close to each other Look at the way that Cyclops is tenderly touching Logan’s chest Uh, did the X-Men longtime love triangle just become a thruple? According to Hickman, that’s a yes, 100% yes, air boning The book ends with Erik and Charles former ideological enemies united in a single endeavor to build a future for all mutants They watch over their friends and family, party it up, and launch seemingly fireworks Come on, guys, don’t burn down everything, right, as we get recognized by the governments of the world We need to wait for the inevitable land invasion of dudes screaming Heil Hydra or some [BLEEP] [MUSIC PLAYING] House of X and Powers of X is the most important shift in the X-Men status quo for a long time It’s a massive, broad canvas that will enable Hickman and the rest of his stable of X office writers to tell new stories that don’t immediately

rely on the, at this point, tired tropes that Claremont built It’s a book that showcases the complexities of modern life and the compromises that you have to make if you want to enact large, sweeping changes to the status quo, both literally and metatextually It takes characters that have been sidelined and gives them new room to grow It takes new characters that were kind of lame and redefines them as mostly important It’s about as complex and intricate as there’s ever been attempted on this scale That alone is impressive And the fact that Hickman, Silva, and Larraz stuck the landing, it’s almost unthinkable Now House and Powers have multiple plot threads and ideas that aren’t even covered in this We didn’t even touch on The Phalanx, the sinister cloning pits on Mars, the fact that all these humans are banding together to ensure that Ochiris has the brainpower to take on the X-Men, even if it means embracing Aim and Hydra, who are, you know, Nazis So, you know, go out and read it for yourself if this is the type of thing that you’re into In the meantime, I’m going to be over here in the corner trying to figure out who is this Professor X because it’s definitely not old standard Charles my-old-friend Xavier From the constantly shifting moral compass, to the obscured face, and the Cassandra Nova pith helmet, something is going on At one point, I thought there with three Professor Xs from different points in his life There’s the prime one, who’s in the opening sequence of Powers of X Number 1, the pith helmet one, and the one wearing the Cerebro helmet And then all of this, you know, cloning stuff happened And I was, like, maybe they’re working in concert now I honestly have no idea who or what he is Do you? Please help me I got to know Well, what do you think? Will the rest of the Hickman run live up to the awe-inspiring start? Are you in for the rest of this inevitable deluge of ex books that’s going to continue throughout its publication run? Are you upset by the fact that Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Gray are a couple now? You’d be wrong because they make an adorable thruple And I support them in their alternative life choices If you like this video, please comment below and let us know what other area of nerd culture needs an explainer And in the meantime like, comment, and subscribe for more Total Nerd videos [MUSIC PLAYING]