Writer Jonathan Hickman has redefined the entire world and mythos of Marvel's X-Men in his "House of X" storyline, which has brought us to the new beginning that is Marvel's "Dawn of X" relaunch of the X-Men series. With Dawn of X Marvel fans are getting an introduction to a much different X-Men world than the one they new - and not all fans are thrilled with the changes. House of X has had its fair share of detractors, who seem to take issue with Hickman's vision of the X-Men Universe, and the actual X-Men characters within it. In fact, some fans have gone so far as to accuse House of X of stripping the X-Men of their heroic nature and making them look more like a gang of villains.
Well, now that House of X is done and Dawn of X is launching, Jonathan Hickman is opening up about some of his choices with the House of X / Powers of X storylines. In a recent interview with AIPT, the acclaimed Marvel Comics writer directly addressed fan backlash over his 'vilification' of the X-Men, now that they've established their own mutant nation, and assumed a position of dominance in the world. Not surprisingly, Hickman loves the uproar in the fandom over this major change to the thematic foundation of the X-Men:
"Well, I think it’s fair for people to ask the question. I like writing stories that force readers to take a hard position. I’m okay if dueling fans argue about who’s right and who’s wrong, I don’t mind if they fight about it. The more passion the better. If you read House of X and came away thinking the mutants are the bad guys, great. If you read the book and think they’re the good guys, super. I’m fine either way."
Closely related to fan criticism that Hickman has made the X-Men less heroic is the common criticism that House of X isn't really an "X-Men story" as it is a larger story about Mutantkind's dark history and future. Even though Hickman included some pretty standout X-Men character moments in the story, House of X really was somewhat distant from the actual X-Men team - and according to Hickman, that's exactly the way he wanted it to be, in order to force these very sorts of discussions:
"It’s worth pointing out that I intentionally didn’t start this as an X-Men story. It’s broader than that. It’s a story about mutants. All of them, and what their place is in the world -- and in the Marvel Universe.
How you read that is, of course, something I’m at least partially responsible for, but because of how it’s constructed, it’s also about you and how you perceive these things. Which I think is fun and how stories should be."
Indeed, Hickman's House of X story is one of minority empowerment, while also teasing the finer details and difficulties of emancipation and what comes after (creating a nation, a culture, a means of governing, etc...). For every Marvel fan that likes the X-Men finally taking a hard line on their own survival and dropping the "Let's all play together" theme of unity with humans, there's another who thinks something essential about the characters has been lost. It's important to remember, however, that House of X is just the start of a new beginning, not the end destination. Hickman has essentially cleaned out the old, cluttered, House of X-Men continuity and renovated it into a modern art-deco themed space. How that space gets lived in falls on Dawn of X and it's more detailed world and character building.
House of X and Powers of X are now done, with six issues of each book available for sale. Jonathan Hickman's X-Men #1 is also now on sale.