The Illustrated X-Lapsed
House of X #1 (September, 2019)
“The House that Xavier Built”
Writer – Jonathan Hickman
Art – Pepe Larraz
Inks – Marte Gracia
Letters – VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design – Tom Muller
Edits – Bissa, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $5.99
On-Sale: July 24, 2019
Trying something out today… let’s see if it can float.
Anyone who knows me, the poor few, will know that, more often than not, I’m wracking my brain trying to think up ways to “zsusz” the numbers and audience on X-Lapsed (and here at the site). It’s not easy being a one-man operation — there’s only so much time in the day, and — since I’m also a fella with nigh-on cripplingly low self-esteem and anxiety (when blastin’!), it’s difficult for me to be as active and engaging on the socials as I think I might need to be.
I try and keep the faith that hard work will eventually pay off… and that maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll be shown half as much respect as the folks who “right-click, save as” four cover pics a day from Google Images and spam tag everybody they know to get “da likes”. That’s absurdly (and uncharacteristically) optimistic of me, innit? Snarky too!
X-Lapsed has been a, for lack of a better term, “passion project”. I mean, in a year and a half, I’ve produced nearly 350 episodes of the thing… so, hopefully that’s apparent. But… I know that listening to podcasts isn’t something that everybody out there has the time nor interest to do. And so, in attempt to reach the folks who are more into receiving comics-commentary-content in a text-n-images format, I give to you The Illustrated X-Lapsed.
Will it work? Probably not. Will it last? I hope so, but no promises. Does this mean we’re done with Dazzler? Nah, we got loads of Ali on the way… This is just something I’m trying out. Kinduva “Hail Mary” from yer humble host. Plus, I’m a bit interested in seeing how these early issues of the HoX/PoX era read, as at this point, we’re out the other end of Hickman’s run.
Note: These are adaptations of my actual X-Lapsed scripts… so, they’re being written from a point of view that this is the first time I’m reading these books. I intend to keep my wild (and often wrong) theories intact. So, before you “Well, ackshully” me, please just keep that in mind. Oh, what am I saying — I’ll take ANY engagement I can get! Correct away!
We open with a prologue where Professor Xavier, wearing perhaps a Cerebro Helmet (?) is stood before a pretty gross-looking tree. Toward the roots of this gross tree are some… grosser pods. From them spring, I’m assuming mutants. Professor X greets them… calling them “his X-Men”. It may be worth noting, one of these newborns has what appears to be optic blasty powers? Could this be like a “Biblical” take on the Original Five?
From here we get a few pages of timelapse, starting five months prior on Krakoa… then across the world and across the universe. The X-Men are planting some Krakoan Flowers. I’m going to guess this is the genesis of the Krakoa Gateways… or maybe the habitats we’re about to see? Though, I could very easily be mistaken.
We settle in the “now”, at the Jerusalem Habitat. We’ve got a meeting of minds here, with several ambassadors from disparate nations having been called here by Professor X, who’d like to make them an offer they may not be able to refus. Apparently, there’re designer drugs… which promise to extend human life by five years, prevent mental illness, and act as an adaptive antibiotic. Thing is, Xavier’s got em… and he is only willing to share if he can come to terms with the governments of the world. He will only help those nations who recognize Krakoa’s sovereignty. These Ambassadors seem to be split on whether or not this could be a workable arrangement.
Before we get too far, however, they are interrupted by the arrival of a pair of the Stepford Cuckoos… Esme and Sophie. I never thought I’d be so happy to see them… but, I know them… and I really need to see some familiar faces here! The humans are led up a flight of stairs where they are introduced to… Magneto! He apologizes, recognizing that he is a poor substitute for the man they expected to chat up… that being, Charles Xavier. He offers to give the folks a tour.
INFO PAGE! We get an info-graphic style page next that describes some of the Flowers of Krakoa… including those that can be utilized as miracle drugs for the humans, and those that can act as gateways for the mutants.
We shift scenes to the Graymalkin Habitat in Westchester… which I’m going to assume is the old Xavier School. There, Jean Grey is escorting some young mutants through one of the Krakoan Gateways… Including one with broccoli floret hair. We… or I learn here that only mutants can travel through them without “permission”. Humans can tag-along… but only if Krakoa says it’s cool.
As they step on through, word is sent to a Krakoan network “control center” of sorts. It’s pretty gross… it’s part animal, part vegetable… and has a whole lotta eyes. This desk is being manned by Cypher (with a Phalanxy Arm) and Sage. More familiar faces…
Jean and the broccoli boy arrive… and the tot is pretty wowed to see Professor Xavier and a “hairy guy” named Logan. In the nearby forest we see Charly and Wolverine hanging out… and the kids are like magnetically drawn to Logan. I haven’t “seen” Wolverine since his return from the dead… so, maybe he’s a kinder and gentler sort right now? I dunno… this whole thing feels very “off”… kind of like the first ten minutes of an episode of the Twilight Zone. I feel like I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop… things seem a little TOO perfect. It’s… uncomfortable.
INFO PAGE! Another info-graphic page follows, which gives us a map of Krakoa… and, I believe, places it somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Next stop… Space! Agents Gregor Mendel arrive at a satellite… which appears to be full of agents of various Marvel organizations… SHIELD, AIM, some others… all of which make me yawn uncontrollably… a latter info-page will confirm some of that. This project is called Orchis. Omega Sentinel, Karima whatsherface is here… and, well, honestly a lot of this is going over my head. Hopefully it clears up for me before long. Before leaving the satellite, we see that it’s surrounding a giant Sentinel (or maybe Master-Mold) head.
We pop back to Earth, and we join Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth as they are pillaging the Damage Control offices. The mutants get what they’re looking for… which appears to be some data… and they split in the direction of the nearest Krakoa Gateway. Unfortunately for them, they are descended upon by the Fantastic Four. The Thing waylays Sabretooth just in time for us to shift scenes…
Back to Magneto’s magical mystery tour! They leave Jerusalem and arrive at a “hub” point, form which they can travel to a whole bunch of other habitats. One of the Ambassadors notes the strange language posted above the doorways… and is surprised that the mutants would go to such lengths. Magneto firmly states that they did so in order to create a distinct mutant culture. They pass through a door… maybe a few… because we see a smattering of locales over this page’a panels. We also see… Xorn? Both of them? Where did they come from?
One of the ambassadors turns the subject to the military… and how, the mutants newfound ability to travel anywhere they damned well please really changes the world dynamic. Magneto assures him that this ability isn’t an instrument of war. The human ain’t buyin’ it… and, if I’m being honest, if Magneto said that to me, I’m not sure I would either. Magneto plainly states that there’s never been a mutant war… which, I mean… I guess is technically true. The Ambassadors are growing impatient and would really like to finally go to Krakoa. Magneto tells them that both, they don’t need to… and anyway, Man ain’t welcome there in the first place The Ambassadors know Xavier’s terms… all they want is their little slice of the planet. Humanity is more than welcome to the rest of it.
Back with the Fantastic Four… Mystique and Toad are able to make their way through a gateway… but poor Sabretooth just bounces off. The Fantastic Four take their captive… and all looks to be fine and dandy. Then… Cyclops emerges from the Gateway. He greets Ben, congratulates him on his recent nuptials… and gets down to bidness with Reed. He asks for Sabretooth to be released over to him. Reed… ain’t feelin’ it. Scott brings up the whole mutant amnesty thing… which, I tell ya, sounds like a really bad idea… especially when it comes to someone like Sabretooth. Reed won’t turn Vic over… and Cyclops isn’t really looking for an argument. And so, much to his chagrin, he leaves Sabretooth in their custody. Before leaving back through the gateway, however… Cyclops makes mention of Franklin Richards… and tells Sue and Reed that, whenever he’s “ready” there’s family waiting for him on Krakoa… Which… I absolutely love! I’ve been waiting for there to be some sort of conflict between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men over Franklin for awhile now… even back during the build-up to “The Twelve”… I was SURE Franklin was going to factor in (mostly because they said he would… but, whattayagonna do?).
Another INFO PAGE!… this time classifying Omega Level Mutants, which includes li’l Franklin… and a whole bunch of mutants I could’ve sworn were long dead. Another reminder that stakes, as we knew them, no longer exist.
Back to Jerusalem… The Ambassadors take a sidebar to discuss the situation. Esme… or the other one, reveals that these Ambassadors are all “plants”, and goes on to call them all out. She also reveals that one of em is packin’ heat… and so, Magneto takes care of the pistol the way only he can. The Ambassador says it’s just for “protection”… to which, Magneto asserts that “that’s how it starts”. He’s not wrong…
We wrap with Magneto telling the Ambassadors that they’ve got New Gods (not those New Gods)… annnnnd, that’s where we end up for today!
This was VERY dense… and made me feel even denser! I am intrigued… hopefully intrigued enough to continue my way through. I really enjoyed the art. The whole thing felt familiar… yet not.
I feel uncomfortable… kind of like when you miss a sneeze. There’s just a buzzing in my head. The Space bit with the Master Mold was kind of over my head… hell, I couldn’t swear to any of what I said during the synopsis!
I feel like with stories like this, we… or I, tend to get too lost in the weeds. I spent a lot of my time reading this (for the fourth or fifth time) trying to look for symbolism… where, perhaps there wasn’t any? Like, were the sorta religious bits intentional? Were they there for people LIKE ME who tends to get lost in the scenery? Will it all pay off?
Not sure. I guess we’ll see where this goes…
If you listen to X-Lapsed, especially more recent episodes, you’ll likely be tired of… well, you’ll be tired of a lot of my nonsense and repetition… but, in particular, you might be tired of me talking about how, at some point, the original “mission statement” of the Krakoan Era appeared to have been usurped… and, “softened”.
I talk a lot about the discomfort I felt in reading these earliest issues of the Era. How, everything seemed a little bit too ideal. It didn’t pass the “smell test”, because… if you ask me — it wasn’t supposed to. I feel like we were expected to feel uncomfortable — we were supposed to assume that there was something sinister and nefarious bubbling just under the surface. That very much feels like the intended direction here, doesn’t it? The mutants, for all intents (and to oversimplify)… appear to have “won”. We know it’s not ever going to be that easy… and there’s always another shoe yet to drop — but, the way this issue kicked off this era… it was incredibly well done. We also don’t yet have the context of the era — we don’t know that the theme going forward is the concept that the mutants never win.
In reading this first issue back, with everything we now know — the juxtaposition is pretty wild… and again, so well done. I definitely feel like I missed out in not x-periencing this as it was hitting the shelves in real-time, as I’m sure theories were hot, heavy, and completely off the wall. That said, I am very much looking forward to revisiting my own old theories to see how well they line up with reality.
Now, hopefully I’m just a tad bit less “dense” than I was back in 2020 when I first sat down with this… well, when I first tried to make sense of this, anyway. I have absolutely no insider knowledge… my own fellow X-Men content creators don’t have much time or use for me, much less the actual pros at Marvel — so, please take all of my theorizing (then and now) as nothing more than uneducated “hot takes”. I’ll
probably definitely “project” what I feel the creators were wanting to do… but, please, don’t take any’a that as gospel.
I’d love to hear your recollections of the early HoX/PoX era, whether this is your first… of fiftieth time reading it/about it — if you’re willing to share, please do! If you know anybody who might be wanting to discuss these books, please — let ’em know about X-Lapsed! Thanks for reading!