Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 11: House of M

[Discussed in this issue: House of M #1-8.]

Bendis writes an event book. It's an Avengers-centric event that spins out of Avengers Disassembled, so it only makes sense that Bendis would write this. The only other writer who tackled the material is Chris Claremont in Excalibur and I think we all know that he's not writing a big Marvel event book anytime soon.

House of M suffers from having a clear beginning and clear ending with nothing in between beyond 'Hey, look, alternate reality fun!' Now, you can carry your story a long way on alternate reality fun. I love alternate reality fun, but not for eight issues. House of M works at, oh, let's say four issues. If this was a four-issue New Avengers story, it would be pretty good. As an eight-issue Marvel event, it's a failure.

There simply isn't enough meat to this story. The Avengers and X-Men get together to discuss the problem of Wanda: she's too powerful and too crazy to allow to live. Some agree, others disagree, but they figure they'll go to Genosha and talk it out. There, the world goes white and everything it different. Mutants are dominant and most of the heroes here are leading happier, more fulfilling lives. Wolverine remembers the truth, though, and freaks out. There's also a mutant named Layla Miller who remembers the truth and can cause others to remember, so they gather up a posse, attack Genosha and Wanda says "No more mutants," putting the world back to normal except for there only being 198 mutants left.

Notice that issues 2-7 are all summed up in three lines? Not enough damn meat to the story! Looking back, I can't remember how Bendis and Olivier Coipel filled those issues. I'm sure the second issue was all "This is how it is now," but the rest?

In that way, House of M is Bendis's first real failure in the content/promise of content ratio. There isn't a lot of content, but the promise of the new mutantless status quo looms big. It seems like the entire event happened just to get to that point with little rhyme or reason. It ends almost on that "Okay, so this wasn't that great, we know, but keep reading, because now it's interesting!" note.

This also shows his habit of leaving the final chapter of a story to act as epilogue completely as happens here. The big climax is "No more mutants," and that happens at the end of issue seven. Issue eight is all reaction -- Secret Invasion repeats this. I actually like that since it's an attempt to avoid the 'Now keep reading for it to be good!' feeling, but it doesn't quite work.

Olivier Coipel does some nice work here. I like Coipel -- he's just about the only one of this crop of 'Young Guns' whose work I dig. He designs a whole new Marvel universe and isn't afraid to keep things the same if there's no call for change. His style is really dynamic. I think his work suffers under Frank D'Armata's colours at times in this series. Layla Miller using her powers is just ugly because of the colouring. Otherwise, this is a great looking comic.

Bendis nails some characters here, I will admit. Peter Parker's reactions are all 100% spot-on. Absolutely perfect. Same with Wolverine. Bendis can do some great character stuff.

I'm still not sure how they made Charles Xavier help them -- did Wanda use her powers to control him? What? That's never really explained.

In 30 minutes: New Avengers: The Collective.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]