Movies & TV / Columns

411’s Comic Reviews: House of X #5, Spider-Man #1, More  

September 19, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
House of X 5

Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews (and previews) from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!  

House of X #5

Review by Jeremy Thomas

The last issue of Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X eased back on the throttle a bit, letting the tension of House of X #4 hang in the air a bit as some necessary pacing and table-setting was done. For some, that may have been a somewhat frustrating situation, especially considering the cliffhanger the issue. It’s natural to want to get resolution on that kind of moment when fan-favorite lives hang in the balance.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait very long, as this week’s House of X #5 leaves Mr. Sinister’s sass and seeds for the future to the side (mostly) and brings us right back to what can arguably be called the “main” story arc. That may not be the correct term to use here; really, the main story arc is in how mutants have staked out their own place in the world at last, and the myriad plots and timelines all serve to push that concept forward. But this is the present storyline, presumably in our main Earth-616 continuity, and wondering how (not if) Cyclops, Jean, Wolverine, Angel and the others come back was foremost on most people’s minds.

Thus far, House and Powers has been astonishing (forgive the pseudo-pun) in how it has reoriented the X-Men in Marvel’s current comics landscape. From the initial issue of the X-Men laying it all out for the United Nations to the Moira revelation in House of X #2, to the glimpses into the past and future that Powers of X have provided, each issue has managed to rock X-fans to their core and usually in the best way.

All that leads into House of X #5. Suffice it to say, we learn exactly how the mission team is back and it’s a stunner. Not necessarily the result, but how it all comes to pass. Hickman takes some obscure but fan-favorite characters and employs them in fascinating ways to bring about the desired result, with the appropriate Tom Muller charts to satisfy those who need to know how the sausage is made. It’s all a result of Hickman’s unique vision for where he sees the X-Men moving forward, and while some may be disappointed with the results, the methods are just the right combination of outlandish and grounded to work.

There’s a lot more here than just a resolution to that cliffhanger, though. House of X is one of the “red-border” issues from the House and Powers checklist, and those issues indicate very significant turning points in this story. (The previous one was House of X #2, with the Moira reveal.) Hickman navigates political waters in this issue and while poli-sci experts may have quibbles, for most people it works incredibly well. At the same time, he’s setting up what’s to follow in the six Dawn of X titles that will succeed this event, and it’s exciting to see where things are going.

After four issues of truly stellar work, it’s hard to find new ways Pepe Larraz’s artwork that don’t sound repetitious. Larraz’s ability to capture slight nuances of expression is nothing short of phenomenal. It’s the moment of bliss on Storm’s face as she talks to a crowd and knowing smiles between Xavier and Emma Frost over glass of champagne. Larraz’s work is incredibly clean, and yet feels gritty and textured. It’s an organic, messy, tactile world that his artwork, given vibrance by Marte Garcia’s color work, brings to life, and some of the scenes are just truly fantastic.

There’s been a sentiment in the House and Powers books so far that something seems … off about the X-Men. There’s an ominous tone to it all, that has been likened in some corners to a cult. That is a topic of conversation to be had about this issue, though it is worth noting that when society demonizes cultural groups, they do things to make them look like a cult. That seems, to my eyes at least, to be the case here. There is a lot of the cult mentality doesn’t necessary fit here, nowhere more serious then later in the book when Logan seems less than good with part of Xavier’s plan. It’s an interesting and important thread to go with, and how it finishes in the final three issues of this is key. Where others see a cult, thus far I’m seeing a group that has been oppressed and mistreated for eons and who are finally united – and that should scare the rest of the world, superpowers or not.

House of X #5 ends with what will be one of the biggest shockers for some to date. In the interests of not spoiling anything, I’ll just say that I’m extremely curious to see how certain characters react to these events, and how it changes things for the mutants going forward. In this moment though, as unthinkable as it may have been before, it feels real and not contrived – not for the least of reasons being that it picks up on both Matthew Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men run and the Age of X-Man event in particular ways. It’s the final touches on an issue that, for all my searching, I can’t honestly find a single fault with. The future is exciting and a little foreboding for the X-Men at this point, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Something is Killing the Children #2

Preview by Steve Gustafson

BOOM! Studios revealed a first look at SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #2, the highly acclaimed original horror series from GLAAD Award-winning author James Tynion IV (The Woods, Justice League) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Briggs Land) about a close-knit community rocked by a series of murders and the appearance of Erica Slaughter, the mysterious figure who rides into town claiming she can stop the brutal attacks turning their lives upside down.

James is the only person still alive after an encounter with whatever is killing the town’s children. So he decides to help Erica hunt down the rest of the missing children who might still be alive and the monsters who have taken them. But the killings and disappearances have the entire town on edge, and when the sole survivor of recent attacks and a dangerous-looking stranger with knives are seen together, suspicions are aroused and trouble comes looking for James and Erica.

Blade Runner 2019 #3

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Veteran Blade Runner Ash is shot down in neo-noir Los Angeles, 2019! First new comic series set in the iconic world, from Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049) and Mike Johnson, illustrated by Andres Guinaldo!

Dark Ark: After the Flood #1

Preview by Steve Gustafson


Two arks were built to survive the Flood. One was filled with the creatures of the natural world. The other was populated by…everything else.

Now that the denizens of the DARK ARK have beaten Noah’s Ark to land, a new societal order must be created – one based on the rule of monsters. Khalee, a new sorceress, ventures to maintain order amidst the chaos, but her otherworldly masters have a different task in mind. She must devise a way to bring Noah’s Ark to the monsters…because the beasts must feed.

From writer Cullen Bunn (UNHOLY GRAIL, BROTHERS DRACUL, WITCH HAMMER, Deadpool, Venom) and artist Juan Doe (ANIMOSITY: THE RISE, AMERICAN MONSTER, BAD RECEPTION) comes an even more sinister tale of biblical proportions!

House of X #5

Review by Andrew Dang
IG: DvngAndrew

The X-Men have been part of some of the wildest, most reality-bending storylines of all time. In the hands of Jonathan Hickman, a true master of science fiction, the mutants have reclaimed their position, both in canon and the comic book industry. We can’t say with complete certainty that this run will go down as one of the seminal storylines of X-Men lore, but what I can say for sure is that it is engaging as it is cerebral, and has me the most invested I’ve been in comics in years.

This issue has no easy task in offering some sort of resolution to the events of the X-Men’s crucial space mission, which was extremely well done so a misstep here could potentially derail the series’ momentum. Thankfully, the results are satisfying for the most part, and the story keeps moving forward with new intrigue. I have to commend Hickman on his unconventional presentation style, breaking away from comic panels and throwing in pages of pure narrative to further the reader’s understanding; it is pure genius and something I hope to see more of.

While Hickman’s individual characterization has been spot-on, his depiction of the mutant population in Krakoa makes me nervous, but likely by design. There are many elements that are certainly cult-like, and is it just me, or is there something about Professor X’s smile and demeanor that comes off as a little… sinister (no pun intended)?  The power level that the mutants have achieved utilizing Krakoa is also a bit worrisome. With seemingly every issue, we see more unbelievable innovations that the mutants are using to thrive, but as a long-time X-Men fan, to me this can only lead to something big and bad, and the latter part of this issue foreshadows as much.

All in all, this issue delivers. As usual, the art is gorgeous, and how they’re able to get these issues out every week is a bigger mystery to me than anything happening in Krakoa. If you’re an X-Men fan, you’re likely already on board. If you’re not, and you’re into science fiction, this run might do it for you.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Spider-Man #1

Review by John Pumpernickel 

I had high hopes for Spider-Man #1. When you get J.J. Abrams teaming up with his son Henry Abrams, your bound to raise the stakes and expect some dynamic storytelling. 

Unfortunately, this didn’t perform as well as I wish it had and it might be a victim of poor scheduling. Lately we’ve been treated to stories that showed us what the future has in store for Peter Parker. Both in movies and books. 

This 5-issue miniseries sets up some big stakes in that (SPOILERS) we open with Peter Parker as Spider-Man fighting Cadaver, a new mystery villain, and when Mary Jane shows up, is killed in the action. 
Leaving Peter alone with their son Ben, the story fast forwards 12 years. We then see Ben living with Aunt May and Peter is…a deadbeat dad?

Artist Sara Pichelli does a fine job bringing the action to life but the story doesn’t quite vibe, feeling rushed. I get that it’s a miniseries but slow down and let the scenes breath a little. 

It’s an OK start to the miniseries and I’ll check to see if the second issue can rebound things a little. Otherwise, this is a misfire from a pretty promising team. 

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

That’s all the time we have. Tell us what you’re reading below and see you back here next week! You can now find our reviews on!