From The House of Ideas: ‘X-Men’ #20 is a Stellar Standalone Issue

It’s been a few months since I last espoused the virtue’s of Jonathan Hickman’s work on the main X-Men title, but after reading X-Men #20 it was time to remedy that.

Let’s start by saying that what Hickman, as the Head of X has managed to achieve with the current crop of X-titles has been quite miraculous. While not every single book has been a winner in my mind, the sense of unity between all of them always rings true. There’s been exceptional worldbuilding that ties in to every single issue that you can’t help but appreciate.

There’s something special, though, when Hickman delivers a stand alone issue, no cliffhangers but just a tight story that’s compelling and clearly a building block for the future.

Such is the case in X-Men #20, where Professor X and Magneto send Mystique on a suicide mission – to the Orchis space base to prevent Nimrod from going online. If she succeeds, her wife Destiny will be resurrected. If not…well, Mystique doesn’t get what she wants.

There is so much great storytelling in this issue, but there were a few standouts. First and foremost was the continued characterization of Magneto and Charles. These two are brothers-in-arms, and for the first time that I can recall, their goals and beliefs seem completely aligned. We see it in the distance and tone Charles has, and what could be seen as some very heartless decisions. I love this version of Professor X, because it feels like an evolution of the character, and comic readers no how hard it is to craft actual change in high-profile books.

As well, another pivotal plot point in X-Men #20 that I don’t believe is a spoiler is the realization by Orchis that the mutants of Krakoa fear them. It’s a quick line, but one that really rung true to me. For the last few years the mutants have been seen and perceived as extremely powerful. But if Orchis can scare Professor Xavier and Magneto, then that makes them a real threat that readers might need to become a little more aware of.

The summer brings us the Hellfire Gala crossover which I’ve been looking forward to, but knowing Orchis is waiting in the wings makes this reader excited to see Jonathan Hickman strike the match on their return. It could ignite…an inferno.

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