House of M #1
Written by: Dennis Hopeless
Art by: Marco Failla, Matthew Wilson
Lest we think the two big comic book companies are printing up nothing but solid gold, this week I present Marvel’s “House of M” another tie-in to Secret Wars. Perhaps you think I’ve given away my feelings a bit early, summing up the article before I’ve had ample chance to complain about Namor’s choice in clothing (because for some reason he’s wearing the same outfit the Phoenix gave him when he was possessed which left me asking at least a few pertinent questions). But let me say the book doesn’t deserve to be harangued simply because it didn’t faithfully continue the story of a crossover that happened a decade ago. No, it deserves to be harangued because somebody looked back at the old “House of M” story and instead opted to ignore 90% of the plot, character development, and tone of the original story.
One of the things I should mention about the original “House of M” story was that I mostly loved it. The story was conceived in an age when crossovers were the extraordinary and not the modus operandi. It was powerful and riveting—and all of its tie-in comics ignored all the continuity established in the primary story so characters would end up places that 100% contradicted their appearance in the primary book. Like how Spider-Man was a raving lunatic in his side story and yet this was not at all brought up by anyone in the main story. I bring this up because this is exactly the feeling that I get from this “House of M” story. The first page recaps how this world came about and it includes a bit where Magneto fights Namor which I thought was funny because out of all the political intrigue and veiled animosity everyone had with Magneto, Namor wasn’t particularly adverse to him. And yet this is a big linchpin of the story going forward. But that’s nothing compared to the big smattering of characters who were beholden to nothing from the original story.
In the original “House of M” story, Luke Cage is shown to be a top player in the homo sapien underworld. In the new issue, he’s about to storm Magneto’s castle. Original, subtle and manipulative. Now, it’s like General Patton and Denzel Washington’s character from “Remember the Titans” got smashed together. Though that’s not much of a problem because he gets stepped on by a Sentinal three panels in. The real teeth clencher is Wanda. True, in the original she was dangerously unhinged because of the trauma from “Avengers Disassembled” and she’s better now. But why not have the original Wanda in this story? Half the tension came from the idea that she was an all-powerful force of chaos who was less stable than an ostrich on a unicycle. Instead she has all the same power but she’s just an angry mom with two rebellious kids. It completely removes the urgency and motivation for the story. Instead we are expected to feel trepidation that Namor may try to take power from Magneto. I’m sorry but weren’t we not rooting for old bucket head in the first place?
What’s happened to Magneto in the story is rather tragic. He’s painted as this ferocious warrior, saddened that he has fought all his life and now there are no more fights to be fought. Like in the original, he mopes around, looking on his world with despair. Only that wasn’t why he was so melancholic in the original. He suspected that things were awry, that he wasn’t in control. What’s more tragic is this is a complete missed opportunity because yet again he isn’t in control. Magneto could suspect that his lord Doom has besmirched the world. There is no proof that he can find, all he is left with is a niggling doubt. That would at least tie it closer to the tone of the original.
This comparison is going to be rather simple because, as of recently, Robot took control of the world of “Invincible” as a behind the scenes tyrant. In “House of M”, the book tries to show off that there is an active resistance, a resistance that is woefully out gunned and hopelessly prone to defeat. “Invincible” didn’t need to work so hard to show that. Robot simply commenced with the attack and because it was so sudden he beat 90% of the resistance in the first fifteen minutes. In “House of M” it seems like Magneto hasn’t even been paying attention to the resistance. When his soldiers do finally knock down their door, their entire group folds like an ironing board making the resistance seem just pitiful instead of outclassed. All in all, “House of M” isn’t a bad book but the plot is so bland and broad that it could have happened in any X-Men alternate universe. No really, plug it into Age of Apocalypse, still works. Days of Future Past? Works. Even in Age of X—Magneto’s even in charge of that one.