Part Two: Marvel's House of M
Marvel: House of M
Marvel's answer to "Infinite Crisis", "House of M" ostensibly stands for
"House of Magnus (Magneto)", but could just as easily refer to "House of
Money", which is exactly what Marvel will have as a result of this
crossover. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, who is easily the most
prolific (and overrated, but that's a whole other article) writer in the
comic industry today. After fucking up the Avengers (but that's a whole
other article), Bendis has apparently now seen fit to fuck up the entire
Marvel Universe, if we are to believe the promise of "lasting changes"
that will result after the rubble has settled and the smoke has cleared.
To be fair to Bendis, the idea behind House of M is an interesting one,
but after being largely underwhelmed with his take on the New Avengers,
I must confess to some doubt.
Once upon a time, Magneto's daughter Scarlet Witch married android The
Vision, and they had two children, only it turns out later that they
didn't, because The Vision is a FUCKING ROBOT and can't have kids. Okay,
what actually happened is that she used her reality altering hex powers
to create the children with Vision, but the demon Mephisto "punked" the
Scarlet Witch by having part of his soul pretend to be the children,
only the joke's on ol' Wanda Maximoff, because those kids were like,
Mephisto's spiritual spleen or whatever. There, that explanation is MUCH
Magneto's crazy daughter is in league with the terrorists.
Anyway, Wanda became obsessed with the idea of having children, and not
just any children, but Mephisto's ghost spleen children in particular,
so she started going a little crazy and eventually lost control of her
mutant powers and killed a bunch of the Avengers, leading to the
disbanding of the team. Magneto, who is a good guy again (this week),
decided to take his daughter back to the island of Genosha where he's
hanging with Professor Xavier so that she can be treated and doesn't
accidentally destroy the entire world or anything.
House of M
The series itself starts off with Professor Xavier calling together all
of Joss Whedon's X-Men and Bendis's Avengers (along with a handful of
old ones), and where the hell the rest of either team is or why they
aren't involved, no one can say. Anyway, Chuck gathers them all up in
the New Avengers' Headquarters at Stark Tower, and tells them that he's
starting to lose his psychic hold on the Scarlet Witch's mind, and that
he can no longer keep her powers safely contained. So they all need to
decide what to do with her. Some of them want to kill her, and posture
and sneer menacingly about it, while others stare out the window
reflectively and talk about how they must preserve her life.
Wolverine eats pizza while the heroes discuss the fate of the Scarlet
because that's just the sort of thing that twelve-year-olds think is
They argue for a while and decide to put off any vote until they all go
to Genosha and scope out the situation for themselves. So they all fly
on over to Genosha and they can't find Magneto or the Scarlet Witch or
anybody, and next thing they know, there's a blinding flash of white
light and they all wake up in an entirely new world with no knowledge of
their past lives. Whoops, looks like Wanda just used her reality
altering powers after all.
In this new alternate reality, humans are the oppressed minority while
mutants rule the world with an iron fist, under the leadership of
Magneto, who is like King of the World or something. Giant robot
Sentinels hunt down humans and exterminate them, and everything is
flip-flopped so that if Marvel had wanted to, they could have given the
story a cute name like "Topsy-Turvy". Throughout the course of the
story, you learn what happened to various Marvel heroes in this
alternate world. For example, Peter Parker is married to Gwen Stacey,
who was never thrown off the Brooklyn Bridge and killed by the Green
Goblin, and she and Peter have a child together. Peter's Uncle Ben never
died, so Spider-Man didn't experience the loss that turned him into such
a noble, self-sacrificing hero who endlessly rambles on about power and
responsibility, so he's kind of a big jerk. Steve Rogers never underwent
the Super Soldier experiment, so Captain America is an 80-year-old man.
The only people Captain America fights now are the people
at the nursing home who take away his applesauce.
Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Emma Frost (the White Queen) are married and
living together in Connecticut. And Wolverine is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.,
and lives on board the Helicarrier as part of a unit with Mystique,
Nightcrawler, Rogue, Toad, and Spider-Woman.
One day, Wolverine wakes up from a nightmare and suddenly remembers his
previous life back in the normal world, and he realizes that everything
around him is bullshit. He freaks out and the rest of his team tries to
contain him, so he decides he needs to get off the Helicarrier
immediately and jumps over the side down to Manhattan below. He crash
lands on building and after taking a few moments for his healing factor
to set him straight, goes running off while the rest of his team
organizes to pursue.
Wolverine enjoys a scenic view of the Manhattan
skyline before the inevitable crushing pain.
Wolverine ends up hooking up with a Human Resistance Movement led by
Luke Cage (who has super powers, which isn't good enough--they have to be
genetic to count for anything) and he tries to tell them his story, but
nobody believes them. In fact, Hawkeye shoots him in the head for his
Hawkeye shoots Wolverine in the head because he's an asshole.
But there just happens to be this little mutant girl there who has the
ability to make people remember, so they eventually use her to get a
large group of heroes who know what's up together and decide they're
going to run off and confront Magneto.
Deus Ex Machina-girl zaps Cyclops into remembering just
how lame and boring he is in the regular Marvel Universe.
For some strange reason, everyone wants to kill Magneto, as if he's the
one responsible. Uhh, hello? It's Magneto's daughter who went crazy and
started this whole alternate reality in the first place. She's the one
who gave all the mutants what they wanted. Shouldn't they be talking
about killing her instead of Magneto?
During this meeting, former Avenger Hawkeye (killed by Bendis in the
normal Marvel Universe) disappears because he was freaked out after
learning that he's dead in the normal world. It doesn't take a genius to
figure out that Bendis is probably going to have him swoop in at the
end, be the big hero, and kill Magneto, seeing as how the fans have been
bitching and complaining ever since Bendis killed him off.
Spider-man: House of M
This 5-issue series is definitely the most interesting of the spin-off
books. Like I said earlier, Peter Parker is kind of a giant asshole in
this reality, because he never went through all the horrible shit that
made him such a heroic character in the normal Marvel Universe. He's
also one of the world's most popular mutants and he no longer has any
need for a secret identity. Everybody pretty much knows that Spider-Man
is Peter Parker. Parker has also hired his old boss J. Jonah Jameson to
be his Public Relations guy, and he goes out of his way to treat Jonah
like absolute crap. And the Rhino is Peter's personal bodyguard, even
though he hardly needs one.
In this story, Jameson has become fed up with Spider-Man treating him so
poorly, but the pay is insanely high enough that he sticks around.
Shortly after Peter humiliates him publicly at his birthday celebration,
Jameson is attacked by a crazy guy dressed up as the Green Goblin,
Peter's old wrestling buddy.
The Green Goblin in this reality still knows
how to accessorize with his stylish purse.
See, in this reality, there never was an actual villain called the Green
Goblin. Norman Osborne is just an asshole, who, incidentally, was just
bought out by Peter Parker. Anyway, the Green Goblin kicks Jonah around
for a while and then gives him Peter's old journal from when he was a
teenager, and upon reading it he discovers that Peter Parker isn't a
mutant at all! He's a fake! Even though, technically, since his DNA was
altered by the spider bite, he IS a mutant…but you have to have been
born into it in the Marvel Universe for it to count. So Jonah goes on
the news and announces to the world that Peter Parker is a fraud and
suddenly the whole world hates him again.
Jameson reads Peter Parker's teenage "Star Trek" fan fiction in which he
himself into the story and screws all the hot alien chicks instead of
Meanwhile, the Green Goblin has contacted the Rhino, whom he hopes to
recruit to his cause, but the Rhino is pissed at the Green Goblin for
wrecking his life, so he invites some friends and plans a little ambush
for the Goblin.
My god, I don't believe it. This is even funnier than that last villain
A fight ensues; they eventually subdue him and get his mask off,
revealing that the Green Goblin is none other than an insane Peter
Parker! OMG!!!1!!ONE!! WTF!!?
Iron Man: House of M
This 3-issue series is largely unnecessary, as it doesn't really tie
into the core book as well as the others. Tony Stark (Iron Man) is a
contestant on a flying robot game show, where he competes with fellow
humans Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) and his own dad in televised Rock
'em Sock 'em robot battles.
Marvel is being sued by Japan for ripping off every anime series ever
Still as insanely rich as he is in the regular continuity, Stark is one
of the most powerful and famous humans left on the planet. He discovers
that one of his employees, Dr. Hank Pym (Giant Man), is conducting
illegal experiments involving the mutant genome, and he tells him to
stop immediately so that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't find out and send in a
team to kick Stark's ass. Pym agrees, only he quickly turns up missing
with all of his research gone.
Stark goes out looking for him in his secret experimental suit of power
armor, which is based on the armor used in the televised battles, only
it's a lot more badass. While flying around looking for him, he ends up
saving a bunch of humans from a Sentinel attack and ends up on the news,
making himself a big target for the mutant police forces. But since no
one actually knows who's in the armor, the media assume that it's Johnny
Storm in a suit stolen from the battle show. But soon enough, Johnny
Storm DOES steal a suit of armor and he hooks up with Stark, and they go
out looking for Pym, only to discover that he's used his research to
create genetic bombs that will only kill mutants and that he's planted
them all over the city.
Deceptacon warrior Predaking interrogates a human to locate a supply of
Fantastic Four: House of M
This 3-issue series features the Fearsome Four, led by Dr. Victor Von
Doom. The other members of the team include his wife, The Invincible
Girl, his son, The Inhuman Torch, and Ben Grimm, The It. It turns out
that Reed Richards and the others (swapping out Johnny Storm for J.
Jonah's son John Jameson for no good reason) died from the cosmic storm
radiation after their trip into space (though I don't understand what
Magneto being in charge of the world has to do with affecting that), and
Ben Grimm was the only one who survived. His intelligence was severely
stunted by his mutation, though, and Doom kicks him around and keeps him
in a cage, and the poor guy is too stupid to do anything about it.
Do I really even need to make a joke about this?
The story opens with the Fearsome Four taking on one of the Fantastic
Four's lamest villains, the Mole Man. After a battle of pathetic
proportions, Dr. Doom bitch slaps the Mole Man into his coffin and the
team goes back home to party.
The Mole Man's last words are a fortune cookie
he reads to Doom before being slaughtered.
They're interrupted by Magneto's son Quicksilver, who informs Doom that
Magneto requests an audience with Doom right away. The team heads to
Genosha, where Magneto congratulates Doom on his defeat of the Mole Men,
but reminds him that he's only human, and thus, Magneto's bitch. Doom
goes back home cursing Magneto for this insult, and shakes his fist
menacingly while vowing to kill Magneto.
I wasn't kidding. He really does shake his fist menacingly.
Later Magneto calls the Fearsome Four back to his palace in Genosha, and
says that he wants Doom to find him a good place, preferably in an
alternate dimension, where he can incarcerate his enemies. Doom shakes
his fist and says that it is the Doom way to kill one's enemies, not
imprison them! Magneto responds by saying that sometimes it is useful to
keep one's enemies around, thus foolishly leaving himself open to
attack. Doom suddenly recognizes an excellent opportunity to set a trap
for Magneto, so he gladly goes along with this stupidity. He and the
rest of his team find some dimension inhabited by easily-killed wusses
and clean it out so that it can be used for Magneto's prison.
The Fearsome Four rampage through an alternate dimension
looking for more annoying George Lucas creatures to kill.
Then Doom prepares his ambush and invites Magneto and his family to come
and inspect the dimension for themselves. Now, this is kind of weak
because we KNOW that Doom isn't going to kill Magneto, since this is
just a spin off book, and the real resolution will obviously take place
in the core "House of M" book.
Bendis has promised that this story will have lasting effects on the
Marvel Universe, and that it will change the types of stories people can
tell in the Marvel U from here on out. The major thing I'm hearing on
the internets is that when the world is restored back to normal,
everyone will supposedly remember having lived in this alternate world,
and thus the human-mutant relationship will be viewed in a whole new
light. Only not really, because everybody already hates mutants, now
they're just going to hate them more. But this raises a few important
questions: Will everyone in the world remember that Peter Parker is
Spider-Man? Will Wolverine retain the memories of his past? If Magneto
is killed at the end of this, how long will he actually stay dead this
time? How will people who were dead (i.e. the Fantastic Four, a whole
shitload of humans) remember an alternate reality that they weren't
There are rumors going around that some dead people might cross over
from the alternate reality and back into the normal Marvel Universe,
including Gwen Stacey and Hawkeye. I can't even begin to describe what
huge, stupid, terrible mistakes either of those would be. I can only
hope that Bendis has the good sense not to do this, but after some of
the other choices Bendis has made lately, I'm not so sure.
What has me worried about the state of the comic industry right now is
that it seems to me that Marvel and DC are both getting a little too big
for their britches again, always having to outdo what was previously
done. If both of these story arcs are supposed to be major earth-shaking
events that will change the status quo forever, I worry that they'll
only try to top it next year, and the year after that, and so on and so
forth until we're back to the foil gimmick covers of the 90s all over
again. Only this time, it will be super-ultra-mega-huge-ϋberstory events
that are causing the glut in the market.
These major companies would benefit greatly from remembering the simple
concept of restraint. Every issue doesn't have to be "earth shattering"
or promise to "change the very lives of the heroes forever!" because it
seems to me that after nearly every big promise of "Bold new team, bold
new direction!" things are right back to how they used to be in about
six months anyway. It could be that both of these major stories turn out
really impressive and worthwhile in the end, but it's the aftereffects
that have me worried more than anything. The explosions don't always
have to be bigger and better than what came before, and sometimes the
smallest and most quiet little stories are the best ones of all. Let's
just hope that the big boys at DC and Marvel remember that down the road
and that they don't completely Bruckheimer everything up in their
respective universes in an effort to top this later.