Brian Michael Bendis’ House of M

House of M represents a nexus in the Marvel Universe, giving us the story of how the Red Witch, Wanda Maximoff, managed to strip the world almost completely of mutants.

By way of prelude, it’s evident that Wanda is not in control of her powers, and the Avengers and X-Men meet to decide what to do about her. They decide that to see if Charles Xavier and Dr. Strange between them can snap her out of it and head for Genosha. And then they start disappearing — shifted into the world of M. And they don’t remember any other world. And they don’t remember being Avengers or X-Men.

Except for Wolverine.

A key element in all of this is a girl named Layla Miller, who has no idea what’s going on, doesn’t know how she does what she does, but who happens to be able to restore everyone’s memories. She also happens to find Wolverine, which makes things a lot easier. (Layla plays a similar role in X-Factor.) Between them, the two start bringing the mutant superheroes back to what was their reality.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has once again turned out a tight, absorbing story, although it gets off to a somewhat choppy start — we start off with a scene in which Wanda is giving birth to her twin sons (who show up eventually as Wiccan and Speed in the Young Avengers, and go searching for their mother in The Children’s Crusade) that turns into an interview between Wanda and Charles Xavier. There are some fairly abrupt transitions farther along, as well, as Wolverine starts assembling the team, but it gains in coherence as the story develops. It’s an interesting take on Wolverine this time — he’s really the prime mover in getting the team(s) together and restoring their memories. In fact, there’s a lot more psychology in this collection that you might expect from superhero comics, as the mutants are hauled out of their happy lives and remember everything that went before.

Olivier Coipel’s art is just right. His style fits into the Jim Cheung/John Cassaday/Dale Eaglesham range, and the color by Frank D’Armata supports it very well, as do the inks by Tim Townsend, with just the right amount of detail. Visually, it’s a very pleasing book, and the narrative flow is clear, with enough variation in frame size and placement to keep it interesting.

So now, after reading extensively about the aftermath of Wanda Maximoff’s “No more mutants” moment, I know how it happened.

(Marvel Comics, 2006) Collects House of M #1-8, The Pulse: House of M Special.

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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