House of M
Every other week, I review a trade paperback. This week, I’m reviewing the paperback that started the whole storyline that is currently ending with Avengers vs. X-Men. This is the event that depowered all but 200 or so mutants on the main Marvel Earth. It was a company-wide event. While it was on, every comic released by Marvel took place in the House of M Earth – as far as my research can tell. Is the event any good though?
It’s worth noting before I start that the storyline called Avengers: Disassembled leads up to House of M. In Disassembled, the Scarlett Witch was losing control of her powers and losing her mind a bit more every time she used them. The end result is that the Avengers were split up, and the original Avengers series ended.
House of M takes place in an alternate universe created by the Scarlet Witch’s massive reality warping powers. This alternate universe had mutant kind ruling over the world with humans as the oppressed minorities. Magneto was in charge of the world while Xavier was dead. Most of the world’s superheroes were well off. Spider-man was a professional wrestler and married to Gwen Stacie. Wolverine and Mystique were married and top agents of SHIELD (or whatever the equivalent was called). Iron man was the world’s richest human and well respected in the world.
However, both Wolverine and a new character called Layla Miller (now a member of X-Factor) remember the old universe and begin a quest to restore the world. Layla’s power in this event was to remind people of the way their lives were supposed to be.
The artwork is strong throughout, much stronger than the art for Avengers vs. X-Men has been so far. Backgrounds are great, the art design behind the House of M Earth looks fantastic. Characters are fully recognizable despite their different costumes and hairstyles. There isn’t anything about the art that’s worth complaining about.
This alternate universe event is decent, but it’s not without its flaws. For one thing, it focuses too much on Wolverine and not enough on any of the other heroes. Anyone suffering from Wolverine fatigue should probably avoid this. Another flaw is that it almost takes too long collecting heroes before the real action begins. When the action finally begins, the story’s focus often switches away from it. The action that is in the event is fairly intense though, with an all-out brawl between the gathered heroes and the House of Magnus.
Despite the fact that the end result decimates the mutant population as badly as it does, the event focuses more on the Avengers than anyone else. With few exceptions, the tie-ins are just random side-stories that barely develop the alternate universe or focus on what it’s like with the Mutants in charge.
Perhaps the worst part of the event is the aftermath though. It basically separates the X-Men from the rest of the universe, shoving the once dominant X-Men franchise into a little corner of its own. They’ve barely had any involvement with the main marvel universe since, when they were once a part of nearly every major event – sometimes at their core (Onslaught). Sure, there have been a number of good X-Men stories since, but lots of Avengers fans haven’t read them.
This graphic novel is at least worth checking out, but it’s not for everyone. At the least, you can tell that Brian Bendis tried, and this is probably his best Marvel event so far (That he wrote alone). I haven’t read many of the tie-ins but I’ve heard that some are better than the event itself. The paperback is often reprinted and shouldn’t be hard to find – you can also order it online here . For the X-Men, this starts the decimation storyline that eventually leads to events like Messiah Complex, Utopia, Second Coming and SCHISM. For the Avengers, the book is reborn shortly after this event and it leads to Civil War, Secret Invasion and Siege. Eventually, it leads both franchises to Avengers vs. X-Men.
Avengers vs. X-Men 8
This is the final issue in act 2 of this year’s major Marvel event. In this issue, Namor (who is powered by 1/5 of the phoenix force) attacks the fictional nation of Wakanda. As he unleashes devastating power on the city, killing hundreds of civilians, the Avengers all gang up on him for one epic fight scene. Most of this issue is that fight scene, is it worth $4 though?
Personally, I think it is. While this isn’t as good as Jonathan Hickman’s previous entry into this series (issue six), this is another strong entry for the event. The action scene is intense while it breaks every now and then to hint at where act three will take the story. Namor holds the Avengers off well, even injuring a few of them, but he eventually falls. The end result isn’t hugely surprising, but it’s probably not what you’d expect either. It fits with the advertisements for act three about how there can be only one … or something like that.
The artwork is decent, but not anything special. The fire effects are simple yet effective. The lightning from Thor’s hammer looks like lightning. The destruction of Wakanda is well detailed in some panels. If there’s anything wrong with the art, it’s that sometimes facial expressions look a bit … off. The best example of this is when Namor does something to someone’s arm, although you probably won’t be looking at that character’s face anyway.
One side note: today’s Fantastic Four issue “foreshadowed” the events in this comic. It feels a bit weird considering that comic officially takes place before AVX started, but I can understand why they didn’t want to spoil it.
If you’ve been reading this event so far, this issue is an easy recommendation. If you’re curious to try this event out, earlier issues are reprinted frequently but you might have trouble finding all of them at the moment. At this point, it might be worth waiting for the trade paperback since the event only has four issues left. That’s really all there is to say – this issue is mostly one epic fight scene with little bits of story development in between.