We all rested and ready for more of this Marvel Retrospective? We covered Avengers Disassembled a while ago, but when we last left off things were getting back to normal. The New Avengers were flying high and things seemed great, but there are a lot of dark times on the horizon. Everything changes today for the Marvel Universe, changes that will ripple through every line of the comics. Let’s start off today’s Comic Book Club with House of M.
To be perfectly honest, House of M was my introduction to the current Marvel continuity. I had the vaguest idea of what it was about, but after reading I would feel my jaw drop and remain there as I tried telling everyone I met about what just happened. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to where things start and revisit our good friend Wanda Maximoff. Remember Wanda? Maybe better known as the Scarlet Witch, Wanda had caused quite a bit of headache in Avengers Disassembled, being the very reason for the trouble in the first place. At the beginning of House of M, we encounter Magneto and Professor X desperately trying to help Wanda with her mental stability but hitting a roadblock. Eventually, The Avengers and the X-Men are called together to discuss what to do, ultimately deciding that Wanda needs to be put down. Bad things happen from there and a white light engulfs everything.
And then everything’s fine, though something about the world seems very, very off. Actually, the world is entirely different, with mutants being the dominant species of the planet all of a sudden and everyone basically having whatever they always wanted. Key to this is the House of Magnus where Magneto rules Genosha as its sovereign leader, daughter Wanda and son Pietro, as well as Wanda’s children, right along with him.
The story quickly travels around the various heroes from the Marvel universe and shows them as they appear in this new world, completely oblivious that anything is wrong. However, since mutants are the ruling class of the world, humans are looked down upon. Peter Parker as Spider-Man just tells everyone that he’s a mutant and doesn’t even hide his secret identity. In fact, he’s considered a celebrity along with his wife Gwen Stacy.
This all leads us to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s air fortress as Wolverine wakes up to find that he’s basically got Nick Fury’s job and that he’s romantically entwined with Mystique. While everyone else in the entire world seems completely fooled, Wolverine says that something is very wrong as he can remember his entire past, something that he’s never been able to do. It always felt a little silly that Wolverine just magically “knew” and could therefore be the instigator of everything, but whatever, comic books!
As an elite S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, Wolverine meets up with his team of agents and tries to inform them that the world is goofy and that something needs to be done. This results in some required action sequences as Wolverine demonstrates that he’s very cool and that his mother thinks he’s special. He escapes and meets up with Luke Cage, who is also aware that the world has changed, though his knowledge comes from a little girl telling him a few days prior. Luke, as a human, has an underground resistance front getting built up to try and overthrow the new mutant order. Of the members that Luke has assembled, one is Hawkeye, last seen with a serious case of the deads thanks to the events of Avengers Disassembled.
Wasting no time, Wolverine and Luke Cage go around awakening others to the truth, such as Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Spider-Man (who takes it very hard learning that Gwen is dead in the real world and that his life generally sucks all around).
Interestingly, one hero that doesn’t get awoken is Captain America as he’s an old army veteran now instead of the strong warrior he’s known as in the real world. His greatest wish was not to be frozen for all those years, so he ended up becoming the first man on the moon, opposing HUAC, and separating from his wife, though not necessarily in that order. Seeing that he will be of no help, the group of awakened heroes moves on to meet up with Magneto and Wanda.
In the ensuing battle, at the very end, Wanda snaps out of her little daze just enough to change everything yet again. She does so by uttering three very simple words: “No more mutants.” The world gets back to normal with the crisis averted, but suddenly the mutant population of the world has shrunk from millions to just a few hundred, soon dubbed the “198.”
Also affected by this: Wolverine knows all of his memories (meaning there will be a lot of needed true origin stories for him), Clint Barton (Hawkeye) is somehow alive again, and numerous critical mutant characters such as Magneto are now depowered. Only a handful of the X-Men keep their powers.
My reaction to the event was to be understandably stunned, mostly because I had never read an event comic before that changed things so drastically for the entire world the comics inhabited and then actually kept the changes after the plot arc was completed. If you happen to see some side House of M stories collected in trade paperbacks, just be aware that they aren’t all that interesting. Very few actually give more backstory to the event, whereas others seem like they complicate and contradict the main story entirely (such as Spider-Man’s side story). Still, House of M is amazing to witness and to me held more weight than one of DC’s “Crisis” plots.
But this, too, would only be setting the stage for what would come next. Everything snowballs into my personal favorite Marvel event, but let’s save that for next week.
In the meantime, here are some other Comic Book Club articles to tide you off: