Spoiler Alert! We are talking about what happens X-Men comics up to House of X #1 – This will help you get up to date, but you may get spoiled as we explain why some stories are important to read!
Jonathan Hickman’s return to Marvel Comics by heading the X-Men line has been heralded as a new era. The was a lot of hype surrounding the announcement by both fans and industry alilke, though it seems like this is an instance where the hype was deserved. These books have received near-universal praise and have been selling out of their already impressive print run.
Hickman’s books are often both dense with information while decompressed in story with a lot of foreshadowing of things to come. Part of the joy of reading his books is piecing together this information as the story unfolds. During his first stint at Marvel, his main series were fairly self-contained, but you could find a throughline from his Secret Warriors, SHIELD, Fantastic Four, Ultimates and Avengers runs that lead up to Secret Wars. He has stated, however, that his X-Men run is a bit of a fresh start, or as he put in during a Q&A : ” From the time I started at Marvel to Secret Wars, I wrote one book – one story that spans 200 issues of comics. It’s incestuous, impenetrable. So I chose not to do that with the X-Men. “
That’s good news for new readers. The bad news? X-Men continuity is almost hilariously convoluted (but as a nearly lifelong X-Men fan, that’s what I love about it!). Case in point – everyone starting out fresh with X-Men, returing after a long time away or have been fans for decades should listen to Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men – they are going through nearly every X-Men comic from first to last and having a blast reliving this out-of-this-world superhero soap opera.
So, while you may not need to read all of Hickman’s past Marvel comics to get start with House of X #1 (his first issue of his X-Men run), there are a number of issues to catch up on if you are completely new to X-Men. (sidenote: Hickman’s other Marvel comics are really good, and you should read them regardless!)
Here’s a list of issues you might want to read to catch up before reading House of X #1
A lot of the marketing leading up to House of X and Powers of X was focused on seminal moments in X-Men history.
While the marketing was clearly placing Hickman’s first X-Men issues alongside other key first issues of new eras of Mutant comics, this pantheon is a great shortlist for a primer on Marvel’s superhero soap opera.
X-Men #1 is a no-brainer to kick off a primer on X-Men, being the first ever issue published. If you are already aware of the concept, you could skip this one, as it has a very “silver age” feel to it, though you never know when a scene might reference these early issues, especially with Xavier being so prominent in House of X.
Giant Size X-Men #1
The Premiere of the All-New All-Different X-Men can be seen as the start of the modern era of X-Men. It is followed by an incredible and defining run by Chris Claremont, which itself contains a number of seminal moments not included in the marketing above (though it could be considered within the era that this issue kicks off).
Another important element here that links this directly to House of X #1 is the first appearance of Krakoa, who is featured prominently in both issues.
Other important moments in this era of X-Men is the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past.
X-Men #1 (1991)
This issue kicks off the third era of X-Men, as superstar then-newcomer Jim Lee is assigned to the second flagship X-Men title just as Chris Claremont begins to exit from his legendary run.
Story elements that currently align with House of X #1 are limited, though the notion of Magneto’s back and forth between villain and hero are some good background to have. Also, there is an important moment with Moira MacTaggart in this series that details her relation with Magneto.
Age of Apocalypse Alpha
This fan-beloved event took over the entire X-Line for months, with the chief conceit being that Xavier’s son, Legion, goes back in time to kill Magneto, though kills Xavier instead. This leads to alternate reality where Apocalypse rules. Though Hickman stated that his story isn’t an alternate reality or time travel story, the foreshadowing of what’s possible could play into the series. Also, Hickman’s run is immediately preceded by Age of X-Man, a mirror-image sequel to this run.
New X-Men #114
The aformentioned record-setting X-Men #1 gets its series renamed to New X-Men in issue #114, which kicks off Grant Morrison’s acclaimed run. Xavier’s school is full of students as he takes the X-Men on a wild reinterpretation while still staying in continuity. In this entire run, you’ll see modern Genosha, a number of important new mutants (Quentin Quire, Cassandra Nova and the Stepford Cuckoos) as well as some important appearances of Magneto and Phoenix.
New X-Men is just bonkers (in a good way), which would make it at least spiritually close to Hickman’s run, if the first issues are to be used as a yardstick.
Other Notable Issues
House of X begins in media res, making the preceding issues not immediately relevant. You’ll have to bask in the mystery that Hickman is setting up, and learn how we got to this point along the way.
That said, if you are only familiar with the above mentioned runs, here’s what you may have missed since:
- Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday – This is another critically acclaimed run, though its shorter length might explain its exclusion from the above list. You’ll be introduced to Armor, the revival of Colossus and some further developments regarding Genosha and Cassandra Nova
- Astonishing X-Men by Charles Soule – Here we get the most recent ressurection of Charles Xavier, after being killed during Avengers vs. X-Men
- Phoenix Resurrection – This is another important series that explains a return of a character – in this case, Jean Grey.
- X-Men Dissassembled – One of the main preceding storylines, written with knowledge of House of X.
- Age of X-Man – another of the main storylines preceding House of X.