Getting Ready for the Hickman X-Era: A Roundtable Discussion

Jonathan Hickman’s multi-year three-segment plan to return the X-Men to the top of prominence at Marvel Comics starts today with House of X #1. For the next 12 weeks, House of X and Powers of X will alternate chapters, leading to the re-launch of the entire X-Line in October.

Basically, it’s a whole big thing, and so we’ve turned to two of the biggest X-Fans we know—Allison Senecal and Toren Chenault—for a quick discussion on expectations. Check back later today for a full review of House of X #1!

Let’s do this!  

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Zack: Okay, so House of X #1 is coming, ushering in the start of the Jonathan Hickman are you both feeling?

Allison: Very nervously excited. 

Toren: I'm definitely excited. Definitely not prepared. There's always cool stuff coming out, so I still don't think I'm mentally ready for Hickman's stuff yet, haha.

Allison: Right? I keep lowkey forgetting about it and getting blind-sided by how close it is. It's been a wild summer already with War of the Realms

Toren: Exactly. Like how is War of the Realms already over?!?! This year is flying by...

Zack: I'm curious, where are you both at on Hickman? What of his have you read and how have you liked it?

Toren: Hickman is one of my favorites. I’ve read most, if not all of his Marvel stuff, and some of his creator-owned comics as well. His Avengers is my personal favorite. That first arc of New Avengers is legendary to me.

Allison: Ah, I'm not a Fantastic Four fan, so I haven't touched that, even with glowing recommendations. I did like Avengers, loved New Avengers, and revisited both last month with HOX/POX in mind a bit. I love Black Monday Murders, so there's that!

You know I was one of the people not immediately enamoured of the idea of him taking over X-Men. I will self-roast on that.

Zack: Okay, so I have him as writing the best Avengers run in the last 15 years and one of the best creator-owned sci-fi writers, period, but let's talk about that Allison! Why not?

Toren: As much as I like him, I can admit that too.

Allison: I’m very character-focused in my Big 2 reading. He's since won me over with his interview answers and organizational skills, though. So I'm well past that.

Toren: And for me, it's really just because of how diverse Marvel is nowadays. Especially on the X-Books. Vita Ayala, Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, Kelly Thompson, Leah would have been amazing to see one or all of them take the reigns in the long term for the X-Men.

Allison: Likewise! After the deeply diverse pool of talent on Age of X-Man, it was a bit of a wet blanket to have Hickman coming in, even as a huge name.

Toren: Hickman is one of the best writers at planning long-running series. He takes that part of the job serious

Allison: The Pepe Larraz part of the announcement also hugely won me over.

Zack: It's really cool that there's such a big talent pool to draw from right now..but I'm guessing you've followed the preview art and interviews? What are some of the big takeaways there and how have they helped to really get you excited for this upcoming run?

Toren: Honestly, the costumes! The X-Men should be the most stylish characters in the Marvel Universe. Maybe in all of comics. And these promo images have them looking amazing

Allison: YES! I loved his answers in interviews about the costuming. I'm a sucker for character designs, especially X-designs, and it sounds like we'll just get to re-live all of our favorites.

Toren: Also, the way they're formatting this. Two series, six issues a piece, both promising big and important stuff for the X-Men. The next "seminal" moment they're saying. I'm a sucker for that kind of marketing.

Allison: Oh totally. The very tight scheduling and complete nixing of the rest of the line kinda cemented my excitement, weirdly.

Toren: The X-Men to me, should feel epic. Even if they're just playing baseball and teasing each other for an entire issue. And Hickman seems like he wants to bring that epic scope back

Allison: Absolutely.

Zack: Both of those things are HUGE statements, for sure. I think they called it "the biggest moment in X-Men history"? Any guesses on what it might be or who it involves? 

Allison: A progenitor of the mutant race? If the woman in all the promo material is Moira, it almost has to be a genetics related thing?

Toren: My best guess is something or someone that Charles Xavier has never been able to detect or figure out. Maybe something that ties to mutant powers? Their origin? I don’t know, but I do think one of these is going to be Charles figuring out something he couldn't before, and it's going to freak him the hell out.

And yeah, Allison, I was thinking that too.

Allison: Yes yes YES. slaps YES buzzer I'm trying to remember that one promotional quote? The one about Cerebro doing its intended job? Anyways, ties into your answer!

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Zack: Wow, I LOVE that origin / progenitor idea...

Toren: A-hole Charles is coming back and he's dragging mutant kind into this battle whether they want to or not.

Allison: Bahahahaha, yes.

Zack: So, I think we have time for at least one more question, and it's maybe a big one...the X-Men have long been linked with commentary on what's happening in the real world...what makes 2019 such an important time for a new (and presumably relevant) phase of X-Men stories?

Allison: As much as we all hate to think about it, 2020 is an election year. And with Hickman stating they need to dig deeper with the mutant metaphor, approach it differently, get timely with it. 

Toren: The world is different than the last time the X-Men were literally the face of superhero comics. And the stories should reflect that. Kids in cages, dumb orange Presidents, Russia, technology being bigger than ever. All of these should be present in X-books. And in more creative ways. Yeah, we get humans don't like them. But a lot of white people don't like black people or Muslims. There's layers there. And all those aspects I just mentioned in 2019 are complicating or enhancing how people interact. Once again, the X-Men should be the main place for that type of commentary.

Allison: Yes! All of this. There's opportunity to figure out the future and impact of the mutant metaphor on marginalized readers. We certainly need something more profound than we've had in the past.

Toren: And, while it is waaaay past due to give a POC or a woman the reigns to the mutants, Hickman like I said, doesn't take this lightly. And he's about as creative and original as you get in mainstream comics

Zack: Those answers were great. I know I personally got my first serious lessons about acceptance and the stakes involved with justifying hate from X-Men cartoons on television, but as you say, that was a different time...the world has changed so much and I really like this idea that so too must the stories we tell with the X-Men.

Allison: Yeah, his first interview answer on that also won me over a bit.

Toren: The mutant metaphor shouldn't always be so tied to race, gender, etc. I get why it is and why it's easy to digest, and how most people interpret it. But I'd love more commentary on someone telling Cyclops he's still a straight white dude and can blend in at the end of the day. Layers and levels to it, and I hope Hickman doesn't just mesh it all together

Allison: Ding ding ding.

Zack: Could not agree more!...Well, this has been a blast. Any last thoughts, theories, or desperate pleas to the universe you want to include before we end?

Allison: Please just give me that sweet sweet Monet St. Croix content. And uh, a Leah Williams Emma Frost book.

Toren: I just want to see Omega level Iceman panels.

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