The Illustrated X-Lapsed – Powers of X #1 (2019)

Powers of X #1 (September, 2019)
“The Last Dream of Professor X”
Writer – Jonathan Hickman
Art – R.B. Silva
Colors – Marte Gracia
Letters – VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design – Tom Muller
Edits – Bissa, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $5.99 US
Release Date: July 31, 2019

Here we are again… my attempt at making X-Lapsed a “multimedia” endeavor, to which you might say: Surely, this is a waste of your time.

To which I’d reply: Yes, you’re probably right — and don’t call me Sh… waitasec, actually, maybe DO call me Shirley — I bet more people (or people at all) would give a rat’s ass about this place if I went by that!

IXL Disclaimer: These bits are straight outta my original X-Lapsed scripts… which is to say, they’re chock-full of theories on stuff that’s already been long answered, proven or disproven. Please keep that in mind when reading that these were my original hot-takes and thoughts. Still feel free to send in your “ackshully”s though, I need all the engagement I can get!

We open with a page featuring four “ages” of sorts. X to the 0th Power is YEAR ONE – The Dream. X to the 1st Power is YEAR TEN – The World. X to the 2nd Power is YEAR 100 – The War. X to the 3rd Power is YEAR 1,000 – Ascension. So… these are the “Powers of X” then? I gotta say, I may diverge a bit from the wide X-Base here, but… when we start getting into the wayyy far flung future… I kinda check out. Gimme not so distant future… or not so distant past, and I’m down.  But, 100 and 1000 years into the future?  This is gonna be a toughie.

We pop back to X to the 0th… Year One. We’re in the middle of that festival from the beginning of Chrono Trigger… when a familiar young woman approaches Charles Xavier, who is lounging on a park bench watching the festivities. They share some sorta flirtatious conversation. She talks about a fortune teller she’d just seen… and we can see three tarot-esque cards. One is the Magician, featuring a sword-wielding intangible girl stepping through a wall. One is the Tower, which depicts… well, a tower. The third is The Devil, with what looks like a red-skinned Nightcrawler.

Moira notes Charles’ happiness, and he reveals that he’d just had the most wonderful dream… about a better world, and what part he will play in it. Moira tells him that dreams ain’t dreams… if they’re real. This triggers a bit of suspicion in the Prof… and he asks if they’ve ever met. She invites him to read her mind.

After the credits page…s, because we need two, we shift to X to the 1st Power, which is evidently Year Ten. So… everything that’s happened to this point since X-Men #1 in 1963 has occurred in a single decade?  Hmm… I’m never a fan of pin-pointing dates inside a clustered chronology… regardless of how good a story might be, I worry that something like THIS will be a sticking point for me. I’m a weird dude, remember… I’m easily lost in the weeds.

Anyhoo, it’s X to the one-th, and we’re on Krakoa. Mystique and Toad are here to deliver that data they’d stolen from Damage Control in House of X #1… Before handing the goods over to Magneto, however, she tries holding him up to make some more demands. This is overheard by Charles, who kinda calls her out for it… suggesting that helping her fellow mutant should be all the reward she needs. He gets it though… because, even he has more demands… ya see, everyone involved in this new better mutant world has gotta do their part, and pull their weight, “pay dues” and what not. He takes the thumbdrive and… uh, sticks it into some Krakoan vegetation?

Next stop, X to the 2nd… Year 100. Annnnnd, looking at this Evangelion-looking thing on this page, I’m already beginning to glaze over. We’re in the midst of a war, it seems… between mutants and something called the Man-Machine Supremacy. This is… gonna be tough… I already don’t care. EVA Unit 1 and an associate who looks like a future Hellfire Club soldier are stood over what I can only assume is a dead mutant… who looks a lot like Elixir from the New X-Men. We found out that Elixir is an Omega Level Mutant last issue… so, maybe he could live 100 years?  I dunno…

It’s a good thing we’re living in the age of the Marvel Wiki! I find out this fella is actually called Percival… and yeah, he dead. We’ve got the remaining three of this foursome of X-Men: Rasputin IV… who I believe is the sword-wielding intangible girl from that first tarot card. Her skin looks metallic, and she’s got the Soul Sword… so, perhaps she’s an amalgamation of Kitty, Colossus, and Magik? We are going to find out that these X-Men were “bred” by Mr. Sinister on Mars… so, it might stand to reason there was some genetic tinkering. There’s Cardinal, who is the red Nightcrawler-looking character from the third tarot card.  Looks to be a blend of Kurt and maybe Rachel? Finally, there’s Cylobel… a machine who joined the mutant resistance, I guess?  She’s got a “black brain” which renders her unreadable. She kind of looks like a female version of the Teen Titans baddie Psimon.

While EVA Unit one and the Future Hellfire Soldier acost Cylobel, Cardinal plants a black seed of Krakoa in the ground. Rasputin unleashes the Soul Sword and attempts to save Cylobel — unfortunately for her… machines ain’t got no souls. Backup baddies arrive, which makes the odds rather insurmountable for Rasputin. Cylobel demands Rasputin leave her behind and save herself… begrudgingly, she does just that.

We get an info page that is actually helpful in explaining the Sinister Breeding Program “Chimera”. Turns out, I wasn’t too far off in my assumption of Rasputin’s Chimera-makeup… she’s part Kitty and either Colossus or Magik (it just says Rasputin)… but, also Quentin Quire, Unus the Untouchable, and X-23. Now, there are multiple generations of this Breeding dealie… which feels like three too many… because, man, this is a lot of info to dump on us. There’s talk of suicide and singularity… which, I dunno… feels like maybe that Evangelion we just saw wasn’t an accident?  Feels a little End of Evangelion here…

Cylobel is taken to the Tower of Nimrod the Lesser… whiiiiiich looks a whole heckuva lot like the Tower on the Tarot card. Nimrod is seated on a throne looking like a great big marshmallow. Next to him is a woman he refers to as Omega… who might be Karima Whatsherface?  I dunno. Nimrod glibly apologizes to Cylobel… who, was originally a “hound” created to track down mutants, Cylobel defected and went against her programming. Nimrod refers to her as a “bad idea” and suggests that bad ideas die a bad death. Cylobel swears that she’ll win out in the end… which Nimrod finds pretty adorable. He actually says “That’s the spirit!”

Cylobel is prepared for questioning… or a “bath”, I guess. She is going to be dipped into a chamber of something called Femtofluid, where she will basically be rendered down to nothing more than raw data… which Nimrod can use to continue fighting against the mutants. More Evangelion sorta stuff, no?  It’s not quite LCL… but, it’s also not… not LCL! Cylobel is stuffed on in… and, I’m going to assume, dies.

Another info page… this time, it’s for the SalCen Khennil, “Sentinel Mutant Breeding Camps”. It’s here we learn a bit about the black-brained Hounds… the last of which were, for whatever reason, conditioned to be duplicitous?  Seems counter-productive, but what do I know? I guess that’s why Nimrod referred to Cylobel and her ilk as “bad ideas”?

We next pop over to the No-Place Hub… where Rasputin IV and Cardinal emerge from a Krakoan gateway. Does this mean that we’re going to be dealing with Krakoan Gateways forever more in X-Men comics?  I’m not sure how I feel about that. Anyway, they are greeted by… some familiar faces: Magneto, Xorn, Wolverine, and… Swamp Thing?  Maybe it’s Groot?  I hope it’s not Groot. Wolverine asks if Cylobel and Percival died for nothing… to which, Cardinal responds that “they’ve got it”… what “it” is, I dunno. Wolverine tells them that the “Old Man” is waiting… and, it looks like he will be until we get to the next issue…

Another info-page! The mutants are now living on something called Asteroid K… so, maybe Krakoa as an Asteroid? There are only eight of them left here… there are plenty more flung about the Shi’ar Space though.

Now… X to the Third – one-friggin-thousand years later. Ya know, it’s this kinda stuff that keeps me from reading the Legion of Super-Heroes… and these few pages feel like something that could very easily be in a Legion comic! I remember hearing rumors throughout the years that Hickman was going to do Legion for DC… I wonder, if that was true in the slightest, if he repurposed some of his ideas for this? Anyway, it’s here we meet… The Librarian. Hey, that’s the character Marv Wolfman created as a kid, right?  Well, no… this is a blue-skinned Legion reject who is wearing a sort of Cerebro helmet.

Looks like they data they are trying to retrieve is corrupted or just fading away. Worth noting, they’re in the archives of Nimrod the GREATER… so, uh… evolution or somethin’. The Librarian’s little Skeets-lookin’ buddy pops in to take the blame for the loss of data… claiming that the integrity of those files was their responsibility. Looks like humanity and the like are no more in this far-flung future… but there is a sort of domed preserve nearby. The Librarian… maybe compares what they keep inside with dinosaur bones… like, as a reminder of what came before?

We wrap up with a look inside… and we see a pair of figures standing in the lush foliage. Now, lemme get lost in the scenery here… is this an Adam and Eve thing? Whoever they are, the Librarian is hopeful they never have dominion over the planet again…

I’ve pretty much stated all my thoughts about the issue during the synopsis, but for whatever’s sake, I’ll try and sum up my thoughts here:

Not a huge fan of stories taking place too far off from the present day. I feel like we lose touch with a lot of the “rules” of storytelling at that point… insofar as things feeling like they actually matter. If we can write about anywhen… why should we necessarily care about the present? Especially when so many things could be changed without really affecting much. I dunno, I’m sure I could better explain that sensation if I were a better writer. Fact is, I ain’t.

Looking back, I’d forgotten that the Moira/Charles mindreading scene took place in this issue… I’d have bet money that it had occurred in House of X #2 — the first of our big shoe-drop issues… but no! It actually happened here.

Let’s briefly chat up some happenings:

In the present, Mystique and Toad arrive back to Krakoa with the data they’d retrieved from Damage Control. This scene is our first indication that Xavier has something Mystique wants… and, how she’s going to be repeatedly used as a pawn while he dangles that carrot. Of course, out the other end of the Hickman run, we know what that is — but, it’s neat to see the seeds planted this early on.

The Chimera scenes were… ehh. I know by the end of our time in X-to-the-Second-Power, I do come around on the Chimeras, but — then and now, this was kinda just there. The designs are pretty cool… and I dig the sassier Nimrod, but it still feels like something’s missing. Also, the Evangelion units are a bit too derivative.

X-to-the-Third-Power — still bores me to tears. This is the high-concept Hickmanny stuff I really couldn’t care less about. These are the pages that, had I not been creating content (which, in hindsight probably would’a been for the best), I’d have skimmed or skipped these pages completely. They’re dull, but are crammed full with enough impressive sounding words that I’m sure I’m in the minority in thinking this is anything but “genius”.

Overall, Powers of X is definitely the lesser miniseries (in my opinion)… but, to get the full-picture of the status quo moving forward, it’s still necessary. Maybe not required reading, as I think you could do well enough by just reading HoX… but, like I said – if you’re interested in the bigger picture, ya need it.

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One thought on “The Illustrated X-Lapsed – Powers of X #1 (2019)

  • May 20, 2022 at 11:22 am
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    It seems to me that a reader would be best served by having no prior exposure to, or knowledge of, the X-Men. Looking at this as a X-Men fan, I have to say that I don’t care about anything presented here. (And I actually like alternate/possible future stories) It just fees like Hickman is trying to ake this as high concept as possible. I think he wants this to be something like “Cloud Atlas” or “The Fountain”. Where you are never quite sure of when the “NOW” of the story is. Is X-0 the present or is it X-1or X-2 or X-3.
    Prior knowledge of the X-Men is a detriment.

    Reply

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