Warning: SPOILERS for House of X #2
Good news for Marvel Comic fans, as Jonathan Hickman has explained the time loop 'plot device' from his X-Men relaunch. Superstar comic book writer Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four, Secret Wars) is in charge of the latest attempt to relaunch Marvel's X-Men franchise, and so far it's been something of a surreal experience. Last week's House of X #2 revealed that Moira MacTaggert, a human character who'd been killed off in the '90s, was secretly a mutant with the power of reincarnation.
The story may have been new to many comic book readers, but it wasn't quite so fresh to World Fantasy Award-winner Claire North. Conceptually, it's remarkably similar to her novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, a book that Hickman has openly recommended. She publicly admitted to being more than a little confused at all this, suggesting the parallels are "a loving and honorable coincidence of tangled ideas" in a now-deleted tweet. "But it feels like a rip-off right now, and I'd be curious to know where the line between "honoring" and "are you kidding me" lies."
Bleeding Cool reached out to Jonathan Hickman himself, and he gave an official comment. Hickman has been on the receiving end of plagiarism, and as a result he was unsurprisingly very sensitive to this issue. He stressed that he does love The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but insists that the similarity comes from their dealing with the same kind of tropes. What's more, Hickman also noted that this time loop plot device serves a specific purpose in his X-Men story... one longtime readers may have already guessed themselves:
These are all just plot devices to tell a particular story. And while I hate to say this now as we’re only three issues into a twelve issue story, what we’re doing in the X-books isn’t a story about reincarnation. That’s just a plot device we stuck in there to make the first act retcon go down easier. When this is done, it’ll be very obvious to anyone who reads both that the two aren’t the same."
According to Hickman, then, this whole concept - the idea of Moira MacTaggert secretly being a mutant, of her being stuck in repeated time loops - is simply a plot device to make a retcon acceptable to readers. The retcon, clearly, is the fact that Moira MacTaggert is still alive; she was killed in the comics back in 1998, but House of X #2 suggested she faked her death using a Shi'ar Golem. Time passes slower in the comics than in the real world, and Hickman has compressed the X-Men timeline down even further, suggesting that Moira has only been hidden for a couple of years.
Jonathan Hickman is known for playing the long game, and both House of X and Powers of X increasingly feel like they're just setup for whatever he has planned going forward. But Hickman's comment is quite remarkable, in that it suggests that House of X #2 exists solely to justify Moira MacTaggert's still being alive. Even more surprising, though, is the fact that Hickman is openly admitting that the issue only really had this purpose. It's possible that this indicates just how seriously Hickman takes the charge of plagiarism, or alternatively it might mean that all this is a lot less important to his story than readers have been assuming.
Source: Bleeding Cool