PICKS OF THE WEEK! Thursday, June 17th

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The Hickman era of X-Men continues into its next phase. The last two years has seen numerous chess pieces that have moved slower than many of us expected after the amazing start that House of X and Powers of X were two summers ago. Of late, the pieces definitely seem to be moving a bit faster. Hickman’s final four issues of X-Men (18-21), and the most recent issue of Excalibur, all gave a ton of momentum and insight into where things are going. And at the end of the day, I think two things; first, Hickman doesn’t want us knowing where things are going. Not completely. And second, I think it will all pay off in the end.

To that end, the Planet Sized X-Men issue represents the middle of the Hellfire Gala month long event, and a dramatic and seismic shift in the storyline. Two summers ago, mutants told the world they were creating their own island and sovereign nation, would be providing essentially a miracle drug as their main export in exchange for recognition of their new nation of Krakoa, and were all around done with being hunted, killed, exploited and generally being treated as second class citizens of Earth.

Last summer, during the X of Swords crossover, Krakoa won a deadly tournament on Otherworld which resulted in the lost island of Arakko rejoining with Krakoa. The instant doubling of space and land under mutant control, not to mention a much larger population of mutants, has put the rest of Earth on high alert status. Promising answers, and fireworks, the friends and enemies of Krakoa are invited to the Hellfire Gala. So far, in other parts this month, we’ve gotten bits and pieces of the story. Now, in Planet Sized X-Men, we get a story worthy of that title.

While the Gala continues, the Omega level mutants slip away, along with members of Arakko, to Mars. Once there, through a careful combination of mutant powers, the X-Men effectively restart the ecosystem of Mars, building oceans, an atmosphere, and a fully working civilization for Arakko, transported from Earth to Mars in an instant. Defending the new Mutant capital world is SWORD station two, in orbit above Mars, complete with a new port city for visiting species.As we’ve seen from pieces in other books so far, the nations of Earth don’t exactly react well to mutants effectively claiming Mars as their own world, furthering their expansion.

Where things go from here? I love that I have very little idea, and that I’m once again extremely excited to see the answers. I am officially very much looking forward to the new roster of X-Men in the new book coming in July. If you’re looking for a good place to jump into the Hickman era of X books, this is about as good a place as any. And for those of you who are continuing on the journey, you will not be disappointed.