Comic History 101: House of M

I know that I’m running late again, I promise that’s going to change soon but even the greats can get delayed a little bit. Back last year the entire Secret Wars event was delayed because Jonathan Hickman couldn’t work out how to end it. See, way before the Secret Wars event of last year, Marvel had already had an extremely successful alternate reality event, probably one of the greatest events in the history of the universe. House Of M. This one event book set the tone of the Marvel Universe for a decade and its influence can still be seen in the books today. It’s set the bar for other event books and, while some surpassed it in various ways, it still stands as a brilliant work of fiction. However, House Of M lacks the reputation of events such as Civil War and World War Hulk and this is due to its greatest strength and weakness.

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Nowadays Marvel have crossovers and events every five minutes so the majority of story arcs have some small connection to the current event occurring in the universe. This may sound like hyperbole but in my experience it’s proven true. Back in 2005 though series were much more story focused, with writers like Joss Whedon working on stories with extreme character and narrative focuses, and this helped establish a much wider fan base for a variety of big name books. It created a platform for something big, something hard hitting that would drill down to the core of several characters. Brian Michael Bendis was more than happy to oblige with House of M.

http://mauricebroaddus.com/wp-content/uploads/2005/09/HouseOfM1Gatefold.jpg [Accessed: 24/02/2016]

The set up was simple, what if Scarlet Witch used her reality warping powers to make everyone happy. To push herself just that little bit further for her father and mutankind whilst also keeping humans happy. All humans that wanted powers could have them, there would be no wars and it would be a utopia. On paper it sounds perfect and, with the help of Charles Xavier, the Scarlett Witch pulled it off. No one remembered their old lives and everyone was happy. Then Wolverine’s brain knitted back together and everything began to unravel. A group of core heroes begin to get their memories back and launch an attack on Scarlet Witch, who just happens to be living with Magneto who is now the king of all mutants. In the ensuing battle Doctor Strange confronts Scarlet Witch and she restores the world back to normal with one vital change, the mutant population is decimated.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5e/House_of_Magnus2.jpg [Accessed: 24/02/2016]

This event hit home with many X-Men, Avengers and Spiderman fans as they saw their heroes true desires, some more altruistic than others. Bendis analysed every character in the event and his musings are both comical and hard hitting. This garnered a strong critical reception however the sales of the series where a lot weaker compared to later events. This was due, in part, to a reliance on the knowledge of the readers going into House of M. The book covers a lot of details very quickly and picks up on small details from hero’s histories that confused casual readers. There was also some mild disappointment at the time as Bendis had promised ‘big changes’ to the Marvel Universe after the event and the only lasting change seemed to be the decimation of Mutankind. I fully understand both of these criticisms, but I have to say as a fan the piece for the stuff of heaven.

http://www.assignmentx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/houseofmspidey.jpg [Accessed: 24/02/2016]

House of M started the ‘summer blockbuster’ events that are now a regular part of the comic book industry and this is why I would put it in the comic book hall of fame. The series proved that such events could be critically successful whilst also being relatively commercial, the first two issues topped the sales charts for the months of their release. Many would argue that House Of M started everything wrong with the Marvel Universe at the moment but you have to take the good with the bad. This is the all-father and kick-started the run up to Civil War. I’m gonna be covering Civil War pretty soon, but first we need to talk about Spiderman and how Peter Parker ended up a member of the Avengers…

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!

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