Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz’s House of X has been accused of possible plagiarism by novelist Catherine Webb. The second issue, which released last week, features of a retcon to Moira MacTaggart that features a highly similar situation to a character in Webb’s novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, written under her pseudonym Claire North.
While some could write this off as a coincidence, the smoking gun lies in a 2016 interview Hickman did with The Beat, where he spoke about Webb’s novel inspiring his creator-owned work The Black Monday Murders.
“I came up with the idea for the book when I was on vacation at the beach with the family. I was reading a book on economics (I mean, that wasn’t all I was reading. It was my ‘serious’ book. If I remember correctly I think I was also reading Claire North’s, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August [which is just fantastic], and the latest Expanse novel, Nemesis Games) and there was a section on the contrast of what money used to represent and what it represents now,” Hickman said.
Hickman has responded to the claims of plagiarism in a statement to Uncle Rich’s Rumour Rag.
Well, this is unfortunate. The times this has happened to me, Pax Romana probably being the most prominent, it’s impossible not to feel like someone is trying to steal your kid, so I sympathize with Ms. North’s reaction.
Let me just say that I absolutely have read Harry August and think it’s wonderful, but I completely disagree with any idea that the narratives are similar.
In regards to resurrection/reincarnation stories, I’d argue that, in terms of story, style and stakes, this is much more in line with something like Live Die Repeat than Harry August. The thing that it absolutely does have in common — and where the comparison is both accurate and fair — is that it repeats a lifetime instead of just a short period of time, but even that’s something that Replay did thirty years ago.
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.
I would, however, tell everyone to go read Harry August if you haven’t. It’s about a rivalry between two men that goes on for several lifetimes against a backdrop of a secret society of people who reincarnate. Everyone should read it.
Powers of X #2 is set to release this week. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is available now.