Everything changed while the world slept in House of X #1.

Mutants established a home for themselves, developed new protocols, new drugs, a new language, building an ethnostate on Krakoa. The rules completely changed just in that first issue. And it was glorious. Reams have been written about the era. More reams will be written looking back on it. There was so much potential. So much change. So many interesting stories told. Some missed opportunities. Dropped balls. Goldballs. We’ll be dissecting the various parts and the whole for decades to come. What went right. What went wrong.

But it was a nice dream while it lasted. Even the nightmares. Like the further twist in the second issue.

Although she didn’t know it, Moira was a mutant.”

House of X #2

House of X #2 by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Mars Graceand Clayton Cowles revealed the huge change to continuity that served as the impetus to pretty much the entire Krakoa era, Moira MacTaggert was a mutant. And not just a mutant, but one that reincarnates with full memories in a new reality after every death. Neat, huh?

Even after the expanded timescape in the first issue of Powers of X, this was a big shift for Marvel’s mutants. It recontextualized Moira and Xavier’s meeting. As the current final stage in a series of lives that play out across this issue, of the conflict between humans and mutants, and the machines. It shows the various branching paths of following Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse respectively. And how mutants lose every time. For all the bright celebrations of the new mutant homeland, it revealed a darkness, an impending doom, that lurked behind the retirement.

It reinforced a key motif that would run through the various books right until the Fall of X, iteration. Permutations. Experimentation. Variations on a theme. And seeded more ideas that would run through the near five year span of the era.

“I was smiling because I have recently had the most wonderful dream.”

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All with some phenomenal artwork from Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. Larraz really established himself here as a top tier name, with a style that brings to mind Stuart Immonen and Alan Davis, delivering a story that visually delivers that iteration on scenes. Changing things slightly with each permutation and giving new context to things we’ve seen before. Coupled with Marte Gracia’s colors, it runs the field from pastoral beauty, dystopian futures, and bright, colorful superhero derring-do. Establishing different looks for the different lives that Moira lived.

Setting a tone and distinctive look for the Krakoa era continued further in this issue, even beyond the simplicity of the text/infographic pages from the first. Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller lay more of the groundwork through lettering and design respectively here.

The Krakoa era may be ending this month, but books like House of X #2 by Hickman, Larraz, Gracia, and Cowles remind us of how great that period could be. The heights of dramatic change to the X-universe that served as a catalyst for so much more. We can argue about subsequent storytelling and having to wake up to a new old status quo, but the dream was pretty glorious while it lasted.

Hey now. Hey now. Don’t dream it’s over.” —Crowded House

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Classic Comic Compendium: House of X #2

House of X #2 – “The Uncanny Life of Moira
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colourist: Mars Grace
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 17, 2019
Available collected in House of X / Powers of X

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!