It seems crazy to say it, but it’s been a whole ten years since Marvel’s House of M event mini-series rocked the Marvel Universe. For those of you who might not remember, or weren’t reading comics back in the 2005, House of M was about how the Avengers and the X-Men got together to try and solve their “Scarlet Witch problem” (basically, the problem was that she was both super crazy and super powerful at this point in time).
Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver convinces her that the Avengers and X-Men plan to kill her, and she uses her nearly infinite reality-altering powers to create a world where everyone in that room, Avenger and X-Man alike, gets whatever their fondest desire is.
In this newly created reality, Scarlet Witch’s father Magneto rules a mutant-run world, where she and her siblings serve as royalty and most humans are second class citizens–except certain human Avengers, some of who are bigger celebrities than ever, as long as they are all willing to tow the line of Magneto’s rule. Eventually, the characters start to see cracks in the created world, and reality reverts to the way we know it by the end. But not before the Scarlet Witch gets rid of 99% of the mutants in the world, or at least their powers.
The original series was written by superstar Marvel scribe Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Olivier Coipel, then a relative newcomer to mainstream comics. One can make a solid argument that the original House of M series is what propelled him to A-list artist status. This new Secret Wars series doesn’t have the involvement of the original creators, and instead comes from the creative team of Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman) and pencils from Marco Fialla.
Now, as part of the current Secret Wars, the world created in House of M has been reborn as one of the realms in Battleworld. And it’s more or less the same world as before, with Magneto ruling the land with an iron grip, or at least, the portion of the world he’s been given by “God Emperor Doom”. Things are a little more ruthless in this reality than in the original House of M world — now it seems almost no humans have a place in this world, most have been wiped out. A few human superheroes remain, with familiar faces among them like Hawkeye and Luke Cage, and they all make up what is left of the human resistance.
As the story opens, Magneto is absolute ruler of his domain, and finds himself tired, musing that he never thought he’d live to see the day to see Mutants not only thriving, but ruling. His children, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver (who, in current continuity, actually aren’t even Magneto’s kids anymore, but let’s not even go there), as well as Polaris are spoiled rich kids, kind of mutant Kardashians, who disgust their father with their self indulgence more than anything. Quicksilver, for example, is supposed to represent Magneto in a trade meeting with Namor of Atlatis, but isn’t the least bit interested in political affairs. The majority of the issue instead shows how Magneto’s troops, all members of the X-Men (or the Brotherhood in the regular reality) and brutal soldiers who operate human-hunting Sentinels, attempt to wipe out the last human resistance.
Formerly nice guy mutants like Nightcrawler and Storm chase the human rebels through the streets, stomping them out one by one. All of this is done well, with a few action beats rendered admirably by artist Marco Fialla. But ultimately, the whole thing kind of falls flat for me. Even the little twist at the end, which I won’t reveal here, wasn’t enough to get me excited for a second issue.
While the issue is decent enough, there are just too many things that don’t make a lot of sense. While that’s true of a lot of the Secret Wars crossovers, for whatever reason, they just seem more glaring here and work against the book. For example, if Magneto knows there are other mutants beyond his borders, would he really be content to let them suffer in whatever world Doom lets them live in, especially if they’re subjugated by normal humans? And would a character like Magneto ever kneel at the foot of Doom, a normal Homo sapiens, whether he is “God” or not? That’s not any version of Magneto I know.
If the writing was strong enough, I probably wouldn’t be noticing or nitpicking any of these things, but unfortunately the story presented in this first issue isn’t all that engaging; it’s really just mutants we know and love running around and being murderous jerks instead of heroes. In fact, the story has some genuinely bad writing moments, like Wolverine skewering Iron Fist and saying things like “dodge this, Iron Fist!”, which just recalls some bad ’90s Marvel books. I will say that the writing in this issue is stronger when dealing with Magneto and the goings on of his royal house, but the story regarding his mutant soldiers is pretty tired and cliche. And it makes up the bulk of this issue.
Another one of the pitfalls of this series is the unfortunate problem of being compared to the original 2005 mini series that it’s based on. It’s just not as tight overall as that series was, even judging them both by just their respective first issues. Oliver Coipel’s art in the original House of M was amazing, whereas the art here from Marco Fialla is just OK. If you’re going to get a cover band to cover a famous group, that cover band better be spot-on, and there are too many places where it all feels like House of M fan-fiction rather than a proper continuation of that storyline.
So in the end, the first issue of House of M is just decent enough that if you were a big fan of this storyline the first time around it might be worth checking out, but with so many Secret Wars tie-ins to choose from, there isn’t anything making this one rise to the top of the pile.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS