House of M
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Olivier Coipel
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I don't think I'd ever heard of the Scarlet Witch before this (oh wait a second - was she in The Ultimates?) but piecing it together (i.e. checking wikipedia) I got the following: created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the sixties she's Magneto daughter and has powers that have steadily increased in size and range from the ability to make "hexes" that manipulate probabilities (limited to short ranges and things within her line of sight) all the way to - well - (and this is what causes all the trouble in this book) - manipulating all of reality everywhere (oh dear). And apart from knowing the difference between The Avengers and the X-Men, that's pretty much all you need to know coming into House of M: Marvels big cross-over event of the summer of 2005. Like the rest of it's ilk (see also: Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege etc) this is a comic that promises a lot of bang for it's buck (the publicity at the time crowed: "Nothing will ever be the same again!") but ends up feeling like just another big bloated superhero blamange: all sugar and no protein. Especially when you compare to Civil War which followed this in 2006.
Should be noted that it's Brian Michael Bendis' first time at the reins of something so major (and it's definitely something he's improved upon on his subsequent times around but for me: the whole "oh my god the world's changed and the heroes are the only ones who notice the difference" thing that it's all based on is a storyline I've seen enough in the early Saturday morning cartoons of my youth to feel kinda played out and stale. And although obviously I know it's a superhero comic and the epic battles are what it's all about - I had Doctor Zoidberg's voice in my head asking: "Why always the fighting?" Even more so when all the really nice bits are the quiet reflective moments when the characters - just kind of sit there and let the situation sink in (Spider-Man especially).
And I feel like I should mention: All the promised ramifications from the "Nothing will ever be the same again!" stuff all the are an anorak's wet-dream (see here for the full details (yawn)) - but (with no offence to the obsessive Marvel fans out there) I found it pretty hard to bring myself to care. Maybe because the conclusion's impact make a hit in imaginary statistics instead of in real emotions and - unlike most of the best Marvel stories out there - doesn't really come near any real world corollaries. And yeah even tho the next several years of the whole X-Men Hope/Messiah/Second Coming saga begins here: that's hardly essential stuff.
Of course I realize that I could be being unnecessarily harsh here - and it's not really fair to House of M that I kind of worked my way backwards towards it - and so kinda knew everything that was going to happen. So (maybe) if you're one of the ones approaching it fresh for the first time - you might find more excitement. But there's better books out there: better superhero books, better Marvel books and much,much better things from Bendis.
Links: The M0vie blog Review, Comics Bulletin Review, Socialist Democrary Review, Focused Totality Review.
Further reading: Civil War, The Astonishing X-Men.
Profiles: Brian Michael Bendis.
All comments welcome.