After the Scarlet Witch suffered a nervous breakdown due to the side effects of her reality-altering powers. Her father Magneto brought her to Professor Xavier for help. Xavier and Dr. Strange attempted to cure her but both have failed. Now Xavier must figure out what to do with her, because she can instantly wipe out all life across the planet or even further beyond. He calls in the X-Men and the New Avengers to decide her fate. -summary
Marvel were on a role between the years of 2004 - 2009 revamping their universe with a plethora of stories that began with Avengers: Disassembled. I think their most ambitious storyline though was the direct follow up to the aforementioned story House of M. Star writer Brian Michael Bendis continued to shake things up; first the Avengers received their makeover with Disassembled, S.H.I.E.L.D. got theirs when Nick Fury was forced underground in Secret War, and now it was the X-Men's turn, or better yet, the entire mutant race. House of M is an eight part series that continued the changes to Marvel's status quo.
The plot begins when various superheroes, Wolverine in particular wakes up in a world that is strange to him, plus he's a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Mutants are walking and flying around in public and no one is freaking out. Ms. Marvel is the world's most popular superhero, Dazzler has her own TV show, humans are on the verge of extinction, and for some odd reason Magneto rules the world together with his children Quick Silver, Scarlet Witch, and Polaris. The strangest thing going on is that no one seems to know what's going on. Is the world fake? Is this a dream? Well that's what Wolverine intends to find out.
House of M really isn't all of that original though; the concept is indeed borrowed from The Age of Apocalypse (awesome story btw), but I find it to be more believable given the premise. Bendis does a decent enough job putting this world together and keeping the reader in suspense on what exactly is going on. His mastery of dialog and characterization helps the story move smoothly, perhaps a little too smoothly. Events occur rapidly and before you know it Wolverine has finally assembled a formidable team to take out Magneto's family faction now called the House of Magnus. The only problem here is that everything seems to move too fast.
The meat of the story in House of M is a mixed bag in some way. You know that the entire world has changed, but you never really get a feel for it. Very popular characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America go through serious changes, yet you don't get a chance to actually feel their world. In other words, the story has moments of feeling incomplete and that's because there are a number of crossovers that supposedly helps in fleshing out the story. Some people will have you believe that House of M completely stands up well on its own; you will get the gist of what's going and the ending itself really is awesome, however, some things are glossed over all too obviously.
Now don't take my complaints the wrong way; Bendis understands how to work drama and get you to feel for his characters. Plus his thought provoking commentary hits the right places, such as the heroes asking themselves several important questions. Should we really try and change things? What if this is the path nature has chosen? What if we can't change things even if we win? At the time these were logical questions to ask the reader, because we know Marvel are pretty ballsy when taking risk. Fatal Attractions, Clone Saga anybody?????
Olivier Coipel's artwork is very good, yet it has moments where it doesn't exactly mesh with Bendis' approach. Bendis shoots for a cinematic feel with crossover page artwork on certain occasions, I'll be more clear. The action at times will flow from the first to second page across, with over the top action segments, even with dialog, and some times it can be hard to follow requiring some to back track. For example, there's one panel where Rogue appears to be absorbing the powers of multiple characters, in this case, it seemed to be Sub-Mariner and Storm. She usually knocks out whomever powers she steals, but since said characters are still conscious and fighting, plus she bags someone else quickly, it creates this issue where it appears that the artwork doesn't properly convey if she took their powers at all. It's a bit confusing if you understand how her powers have been built up over the years to work, this breaks the tension in the action a little bit. On the plus side, the character designs, backgrounds, and some of the action are well drawn with glossy colors; the artwork has many moments of being very nice to look at.
Even more so than Avengers: Disassembled, House of M ended with major consequences to the Marvel Universe. The mutants were heavily effected, the X-Men's problems would greatly increase heading towards Deadly Genesis with the introduction of Vulcan, the event would play some factor towards Civil War (Secret War and Planet Hulk: Prelude would play an ever larger role), it definitely worked into Secret Invasion, Wolverine would receive another series called Wolverine Origins, Ms. Marvel would get her own series, New X-Men: Academy would soon become New X-Men: Childhood's End and many other things would occur. Many of the stories would have their enjoyable moments.
In closing, House of M does feel somewhat incomplete as if there's more story to be told. There was great potential to be realized and there are various crossovers to the event. Unfortunately, many of the crossovers feel as if the writers never so much as glanced at Bendis' work on the story. Many of them feel so unrelated it's crazy, some barely expand on the original story while some don't at all. The only stories I would even dare to recommend are House of M: Avengers, Masters of Evil, Civil War, Fantastic Four, and that's probably about it. Wolverine, Hulk, Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, they are a complete waste of time and offer nothing to the original story. If for some reason you want to read those stories anyway, then I recommend doing so after House of M issue # 3, some time after Wolverine jumps from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. But I warn you, do not come into those books with any built up expectations in regards to learning more about House of M. I think Marvel dropped the ball in regards to their mainstream characters. I don't know what the hell was going on in the editors minds.
These are the collected TPB's(reviews on them soon):
House of M: Wolverine, Iron Man & Hulk
House of M: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, & The Uncanny X-Men
House of M: Avengers
House of M: Masters of Evil
House of M: Civil War
House of M: No More Mutants
Great story that stands alone well enough, artwork, influence on later stories
Some areas feel like they can be expanded upon
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