The first of Hickman era of X-Men comics sees the new mutant nation of Krakoa firmly established after the events of House/Powers of X. This volume collects the first six issues of the main X-Men title. It’s pretty good, and thoroughly entertaining. There’s a few longer arcs that stretch several issues, and a one-off that I suspect we’ll see more from down the line. There are a lot of seeds being planted (figuratively and in a few cases, literally).
Hickman chooses to focus his energy mostly with the defacto leader of the X-Men, Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, and his family, including Jean Grey, Cable, Rachel Summers, and his brothers Vulcan and Havok. We learn they live in the Summer House, which is on the moon. I’m not entirely sure why Wolverine lives with them- there’s some background on how the characters got to these relationships that I’m personally missing and that I wish there was a bit more exposition about. I understand the desire not to get too deep into those relationships with explicit exposition, but I can’t help but wonder if other former X-fans are also scratching their heads at some of the choices that you can only understand if you go on a wiki dig to figure out what you missed.
The first story shows the X-Men saving a group of captured mutants, and coming upon a strange woman who is a Child of the Vault. We start to see the way younger mutants are idolizing famous, older ones, like Magneto, and building a cult of personality around them, which I can’t help but wonder if it’ll turn out poorly in the long run with these kinds of known megalomaniacs. We also catch up with the Orchis movement, from the starter title, and learn that the X-Men didn’t fully succeed in ending their efforts to destroy mutants (Big Bad’s gotta Bad). We hang out with the Starjammers. We have a few cute family moments with the Summers where Cyclops tells his kids he wants to take them on a vacation, while also on a mission that is doing some important backstory set up for the island of Krakoa. We see how the rest of the world is responding to the mutant presence with a summit Xavier and Magneto attend. We return to The Vault, where we learn X-23, Synch and Darwin will be dispatched to find out what’s behind it. Finally, we see how Mystique is playing her cards, and how she resents being a pawn of Xavier and Magneto, who view her as a threat to be contained. It’s all around just some neat stories. The one let-down is issue 3, with the introduction of a quartet of villains who just kind of don’t do anything for us and with some misogynistic humor directed at the White Queen that’s masked as ‘old ladies saying sexist things to slutty women ha ha’ that feels out of place and, frankly, really tired.
Each issue is setting the bigger story arcs and themes for the coming year or two of comics, teasing new villains, old friends, and mostly interesting and fresh concepts that the rest of the books will presumably explore as Hickman and his team redefine the X-titles. Hickman is still failing to write his female characters very well, and making a lot of them the butt of the joke, especially the ones who have canonically weaponized their sexuality, like the White Queen and Mystique. We still haven’t seen what many of the other classic team members are up to too- Psylocke, Angel, Beast, Rogue, Gambit and more. Maybe they’re on another title? The good thing is that this book actually makes me want to go and read the other titles to see where my old favorites are at in this weird new paradigm.