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The House of M

Dr Alex Tang


The House of M was Marvel’s 2005-2006 major storyline that links many Marvel titles. Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik (Magneto) used to be the two most powerful mutants on earth. Somehow along the way, other mutants like Jean Grey who became the Phoenix, became dangerously powerful. Wanda Maximoff used to be a minor player in the X-men saga. Her hex power was relatively weak. Wanda is the daughter of Magneto. Again somehow along the years (through deconstruction and revisionist story telling), her power became so powerful that she can alter reality itself!

Wanda had a nervous breakdown while fighting with the New Avengers and unleashed terrible damage to her team mates. Hawkeye was killed while several others were injured. Magneto came to her rescue and brought her to Genosha, the devastated mutant island-nation. Here with the help of Charles Xavier, they tried to help her. Unfortunately, her mental condition was so unstable that Charles Xavier with Doctor Strange was unable to help her. She was considered so dangerous that Charles called a meeting of the New Avengers and the Astonishing X-Men to propose a drastic solution. In order to keep the world safe, they will have to kill her. This is reminiscent of the DC storyline of mind wiping one of their own but more drastic. A vote was taken and it was decided that Wanda has to be eliminated. And these are the good guys!

When both teams reach Genosha, Wanda was hidden by her brother Pietro (Quicksilver) who was trying to save her life. In the meantime, everyone blame Magneto for her disappearance. At a crucial moment, everything turned white and reality as we can to know it changed.

In the new reality, Wanda gave the heroes what they had always wanted in life. Magneto is Erik Magnus, the Monarch of the House of M, ruler of most of the world. Mutants have taken over control of everything. Normal human beings or sapiens are now the second class citizens. They are discriminated against, exploited and oppressed. This reminds me of the Planet of the Apes saga. Normal humans are expected to die out in a few generations.

What about our heroes? Well, everyone except James Howlett (Wolverine) did not have memories of their previous lives. On the other hand, James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine remembers everything!

This gives an interesting opportunity for the writers to explore a few “what if” situations. Like Captain Kirk and Captain Picard in the Nexus in the movie “Generations”, they have an opportunity to live the life they always wanted. For James T. Kirk, it is to live with the woman he loves and for Jean-Luc, it is to have a wife and family. Peter Parker is an actor, professional wrestler and CEO of Spider-Man, Inc. He is a celebrity, married to Gwen Stacy and has a child. Uncle Ben is alive with Aunt May. Now, why would he want to be back the way it was?

Other heroes are not so lucky. Tony Stark (Iron-Man) is still under the control of his father, Howard and has a dysfunctional childhood. Reed Richards is dead and there was no Fantastic Four. Dr. Doom is the ruler of Latveria. He is married to his childhood sweetheart and his mother is still alive. He formed a team called the Fearsome Four who does the House of M’s dirty work. Bruce Banner goes green and links up with the Aborigines in Australia, Captain Britain is called back to realign realities and Sebastian Shaw is head of S.H.I.E.L.D!

Nick Fury, being a human is given a job of a drill sergeant. Captain America, also human was given early retirement. You get the picture? I will not give away the plot by revealing how our reality was restored.

This is an entertaining storyline which involves Excalibur, the Astonishing X-Men, The New Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, Uncanny X-Men and New X-Men Academy. Lots of people are involved. Some of the stories makes sense and try to explore what life could have been for these superheroes if what had happened to them did not happen. Some of the stories are nonsense with lots of wham, bang and girls in skimpy clothing. I could not help but wonder what the Batman will be like in this reality. It is difficult to read the story knowing that at the end of it all, the present reality will be restored. Magneto though he is the absolute Monarch of the House of M did come out impressive. Most of the time, he just seems confused or a bad caricature of a bad villain.

The normal human are treated badly by the mutants. They have developed a human resistant movement and there are also terrorist groups. Again the treatment of this aspect of the dominant species becoming the underdog was not examined deeply. I would give this series a two and a half star. It is worth a read if you run out of manga on a Saturday afternoon.

 

|posted 3 October 2006|

 

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