As Jonathan Hickman delivers us further into the worlds of ‘House of X’ and ‘Powers of X,’ we’ve seen a consistent use of data pages throughout his work. Although the author feels that using them is important to the narrative, he has a much broader reason as to why he is including them into the work.
Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva have been handling the art on these books (which have been fantastic on its own), but these pages add something that feels unique to the comic. With the story being billed as a fresh take on the “X-Men” that provides a new way of storytelling for the franchise, I think that their inclusion is a great idea. Not only does it differentiate itself from other Marvel comics, but it adds a different way to read the books before the new X-Men comics launch this fall.
Hickman shares that part of the reason for their inclusion is all about the narrative of the story:
“Even in my first work, I’ve always played with the idea of what is narrative and what isn’t? If narrative is all art and words, then graphic design is a part of it as well. What I’ve played with in Black Monday Murders was a different way to tell the story.”
However, it is how you read the books and what it does for the story that truly stands out. Hickman went on to share:
“The reason why I like it is because it changes the way you read the book, just in terms of how long it takes you to read a page. Even if it’s a super wordy page or a dense book, there’s a certain amount of time you allocate to each page, and you know how long it’ll take to read an average comic. When you start interlacing that stuff with things that take longer to read or things you digest in a different matter from a standard comic page, if you change the mechanics of the way people read the books, you’re exerting more finite control on their experience reading a comic. That’s super important because people consume so much pop culture nowadays. It’s not like it was when I was a kid, where’d you save up your money to buy comics, or spend a whole week waiting for the next episode of Knight Rider. All of that’s changed. Everything is hyper-compressed and super dense.
In adjusting to that, because we need to maintain a certain velocity in the comic industry, we’ve become more homogenized in the product that we’re producing. So what you have is a book that’s 20 pages, and it’s produced in the same manner, so you get the same type of cadences throughout the book. You’re teaching people ‘this is how you read in time, this is how a comic book functions.’ Any time you can disrupt the mechanism by which people read the books by engaging a different part of their brains, they have to work harder, and it makes the reading experience more effective just by being different. If you can also make it really good and engaging, you’re winning not just the battle but the war of, ‘Are our books cool?’ That’s my thinking behind it. It allows me to cheat narratively. I can do a more cinematic book if I’m not robbing the reader of information in the interim pages. I don’t want somebody to spend $4 and be done with the book in five minutes.”
I fully appreciate this change in storytelling which Hickman has brought to the page. I do finish many of the comics I pick up rather quickly these days, and the new X-Men issues have been something I spend more time on. From re-reading issues to digest all of the changes to the “X-Men” lore and world-building which Hickman has set up to spending a lot of time-consuming all of the infographic styled data dumps, these have been real pleasures to read.
If you’ve been following the new X-Men titles, do you agree that Hickman’s use of artwork and data pages are a different style of storytelling which helps tell a new story? Have you been spending more time with ‘Powers of X’ and ‘House of X’ compared to other comics that you’ve been reading? Share your thoughts in the comments below, True Believers!
Source: Entertainment Weekly