Friday, November 25, 2005

House of M's Day In Court

Hidey-ho, neighbors. Some late, late reviews to start things off, then we talk House of M:

Marvel Team-Up #14: I don't know why, but I thought this was excellent. Although clearly a full-length ad for Kirkman's Invincible, it was breezy enough and jokey enough to where I didn't mind. The art sucked my left one, though. Yeeesh. There's a good scene where Spidey introduces Invicible to the New Avengers, and some slam-bang Doctor Octopus fightin'. I should mention that Randy thought this comic was absolutely terrible.

Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #1 : OK, I thought this sucked. I'll just throw that out there. So we have some not-so-sub-text about cheesecake heroines and their lurid depictions, a wife who clearly married an idiot, and absolutely no compelling reason to follow this character for another three issues. Unfortunately, because I desperately want to believe that Morrison can pull another one off, I'll probably end up getting the rest of this mini. Seriously, was there anything to like about this, other than the fact that we get to go "Hah! He's looking at superhero porn! It's funny because it's not that far a stretch from what may occur in real life!" ? Which should make us feel a tiny bit creepy.

Infinite Crisis #2: Well, I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, we learn that Power Girl is Earth-2 Supes' cousin. Which, you know, meh. On the other hand, we discover that apparently the Golden Age Superman, Alex Luthor, Superboy-Prime and Lois Lane think that the heroes have screwed up our dimension, what with the crazy mindwipings and OMACs and all. Which strikes me a little off, them passing judgment on "us". Anyhoo. I know this is all some big metatextual statement on DC comics in general and the direction they've taken, blah blah, and it's interesting on one level, and stultifyingly self-important and righteous on the other. So there. If that made any sense, you're doing better than I am. Still, I'm interested enough and the art is pretty enough to recommend this.

Hawkman #46: Oh God. I knew this was going to happen. If you've seen the cover to this issue, then you've seen the best part of this comic. Pure filler with a side of hack here, as the Hawks are mopping up St. Roch and stumble across an OMAC (yawn). They fight, pointlessly, and then the whole thing leads into the same sequence of events that started that moldy bag of peed-on Cream O' Wheat that was Rann-Thanagar War. To make things even more depressing, the next three issues deal with said War, which is code for "boring and pointless exposition that won't have any impact nor make any sense to anyone". And to top off this Hawkman fan's week, it's announced that after Infinite Crisis they're changing the title and focus of this comic to Hawkgirl. Thanks, DC! Do I get a free kick in the balls with that?

Gotham Central #37: That'll teach me to ask for a free kick in the balls! GC's getting canceled too! I know, allegedly it was Rucka's decision, but the end result is the same. This issue is a personal story that involves the fallout (literally) from Day of Vengeance, as two GCPD detectives try to make their way home through Gotham whilst avoiding the magical debris and anarchy all around them. It's a harrowing tale that wraps nicely and has a big ol' message about family and faith in the middle of it, and screw you --- I loved it.

Anyway, there's some quickie reviews of comics nearly three weeks old, which shows you how friggin' far behind I am. But there's something we have to talk about, dear friend.

So House of M, the series proper, is over.

Good for House of M. Good for Marvel, good for Bendis. Bad for mutants, but them's the breaks.

So, how was it?

Well, it didn't suck, entirely. It wasn't internet-cleaving, as promised. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer the following --- The Trial of M.

For the Prosecution: Your honor, I submit to you that this whole House of M --- and indeed, Avengers Disassembled before it --- has been one long, bloated ego trip on the part of Brian Michael Bendis and Marvel in general. In a story that could easily have been condensed into 4 issues and retained a tighter focus and more powerful effect, we had to suffer through 8 issues and four crap miniseries, not to mention the crossover issues into regular series. And for what? So that we could scale back the number of mutants in the Marvel U? So Bendis could bring Hawkeye back to life? So we could have 14,327 "Elseworlds"-type issues cluttering our summer? The art was pedestrian and generic, the covers to all the books uniformly sucked (unless you got a variant), and it moved at a snail's pace.

And riddle me this, your honor. If this was supposed to reduce the mutant presence, how come every other friggin' solicitation for December through February is about a mutant comic, a mutant miniseries, or a mutant guest appearance? Is this a meaning of the word "reduce" that I'm not aware of? Or is it another misguided attempt at irony?

But back to the miniseries tie-ins. I freely admit that it's my own fault for buying the Iron Man House of M miniseries. I'm a Tony Stark homer, and an idiot. I get what I deserve there. But I read the FF and Spider-Man ones too (and no, I didn't buy them), and I gotta say...why? Why? Is there one single reason that even fans of those characters should have picked up those series? Because I saw a whole lotta sound and a teeny tiny amount of fury there. And, oh, by the way, none of them made a damn bit of difference in the overall storyline. So there's something of a lack of payoff there as well.

And making Wolverine the central character in all this as of issue #2? Brilliant. You managed to keep those of us who are tired of Wolverine in check for the first two issues, knowing that we'd hang on to the end. In fact, you pretty much lied when you stated that this series would feature some non-mutant characters, like, say, Avengers. Because other than maybe 10 seconds of screen time at the beginning and at the end, this was ENTIRELY about X-characters. Which would be OK, and yes, I should have seen it coming, since the title was "House of M", and I was just a naive schoolboy who thought that Marvel's tentpole event would feature the entire Marvel U instead of just the "kewl" characters.

Oh, memo to Marvel? We generally don't give a rat's ass about Emma Frost, either. So stop shoving her down our throats as well, get her the hell out of the spotlight, and move along to someone more interesting, say, the Blob. Just because the uber-telepath in a bikini looks hotter than the uber-telepath in a wheelchair doesn't mean she resonates anywhere more with readers except perhaps somewhere near the groin.

Your honor, I implore you to seek retribution. Steal Bendis' and Quesada's pants or something. Or at the very least, hit them with a steam iron.

For the Defense:

Of course it took 8 issues. It's a miniseries. You knew that going in, right on the cover where it said "#1 of 8". So quit bitching. You also knew pretty generally that this was going to be an alternate reality-type situation involving flip-flopping the human/mutant status quo. I mean, you didn't really think "House of M" stood for "House of Marvel", did you? Sheesh.

And you know what? For all your bitching about the miniseries, the fact that none of them had an impact on the main storyline meant MARVEL WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. They said from the beginning that you didn't have to read any of the minis to understand the main story, and they were absolutely right, unlike some other miniseries involving Batman, spy satellites, and OMACs I could name. So get off their backs about the miniseries --- they turned out to be exactly as advertised.

Let's look at the bigger picture. What did this series accomplish? Here's a few examples:

  • Fewer mutant characters. Joe Q was dead on when he said in an interview that making a new character a mutant was just lazy writing, a shortcut to coming up with an interesting origin and character. So kudos for wiping out most of them, including some boring ones who were never that compelling to begin with (I'm lookin' at you, Iceman).
  • Hawkeye's back. You all bitched when he was stupidly killed, and rightfully so. Now he's back and apparently has an attitude and a grudge against his former teammates, which --- face it ---gives him something interesting about his character again, something that he didn't have for the last two years. Don't believe me? Who would you rather watch and see what they do next, Hawkeye or Captain America? Hawkeye or Iron Man? Hawkeye or Wolverine? (OK, that last one was a trick question. Sit down, fanboy.)
  • An interesting direction for Dr. Strange, as he must come to grips with being a failure and has his confidence shaken. There are some excellent ways to revitalize this character now, beginning with sending him on the Hero's Journey to redeem himself.
  • Wolverine remembers everything now, which means at least we can stop with the "international man of mystery" angle.

So yeah, some good things did come of it. And in the midst of some terrific revelations and action, we got powerful moments like Peter Parker's "awakening" and Hawkeye's "second death" and the final confrontation at the end. Those were genuinely emotional scenes that really left an impression.

Was it the perfect miniseries? No. Will it please everyone? No. But in the end, it was probably a good thing that didn't suck too many dollars in service of the main story, had competent art, and real consequences for the Marvel U continuity, which is allegedly what everyone wants out of one of these event thingys.

So, your Honor, the Defense sees no reason why there should be any sort of pants-stealing or steam iron-throwing here. It was a decent miniseries that lived up to expectations.

And that's pretty much my take on House of M. I'm deeply divided. In the end, I'll puss out and give it 2.5/5 rating for Comic Book Goodness, and that particular rating could go another 2 points either way depending on the mood I'm in.


Anonymous jake said...

Wow, so you 2 guys are still buying comics afterall.

1:03 AM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

I didn't really care for House of M, but that's mostly due to my ditstaste for these huge, universe-spanning deals (Infinite Crisis falls in this as well). The thing I was happiest about with HoM was that the main Spider-Man books didn't tie-in at all. They made separate mini-series just for HoM.

I am glad to see Hawkeye back (though they could have saved me the grief and just killed Hank Pym instead. And then left him dead), Wolverine remembering everything? Great! I think Paul Jenkins might be the guy for those stories (I was a big fan of his work on Spider-Man and Spectatcular Spider-Man), and I'd like to see what Logan was doing.

My main question; how did Wanda get so damn powerful? Redoing reality on a planetary level, twice? That's like Galactus/Phoenix level. Did she swallow an Infinity gem of something?

11:34 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

I enjoy huge epic comic book metaplots myself -- they are often fun and invovle lots of cameos and cool stuff. I was remarkably disappointed in House of M, though. I ended up actually dropping all of the Marvel books I was reading. (Meanwhile, I continue to sink deeper and deeper into the DC Metaplot, to the point of obsession with Wonder Woman this summer, and now Green Lantern. My entire pull is DC now)

So, I say, commence pantsing!

7:15 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

You've got to admire (or hate) Marvel's sneakiness. They promised a reduction in the mutant population, and they delivered.

Except they got rid of all the mutants who weren't appearing in any books anyway, and left all the main guys (except for a token few). How very clever.

And I don't reckon we'll be seeing any HoM fallout in Spidey's own books, so that whole thing with him being ripped from a perfect life won't be seen anywhere else. Except for in Not Avengers, because Bendis is writing that too. Although that said, Bendis seems to think that the Spidey in NA is the Ultimate one, so maybe not.

And I don't know where we'll see any of the Dr Strange follow up, since he doesn't have his own title, and I'm pretty sure that this isn't what JMS had in mind for him when he gets around to doing one. Perhaps we'll see Strange turn up in Not Avengers again, as Bendis sidelines the titular characters again.

As for Incontinent Crisis, I thought it was a terrible issue full of really dull exposition and some nasty writing ("You can call me Superboy-Prime" oh f*ck off). And of course that big double-whammy of audacious silliness; (1) the Old Superman, who's killed and mindwiped many a criminal in his time, getting angry about DC's current heroes killing and mindwiping criminals, and (2) serving up Identity Crisis and Countdown as examples of what's wrong with the DCU when it's the same bloody writers! That's a really bad argument, and it undermines the whole project for me.

But yeah, Gotham Central was pretty good. Much better than that Dead Robins arc, too.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Aya Ayuvara said...

Hmm I like that Hawkman gets changed to Hawkgirl. Yay! Looking forward to it. We need more female superheroes featured in comics anyway. And with Batgirl soon gone, there is one less again, soon :(

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Aya Ayuvara said...

And another one from me. Because I stupidly didn't read your articvle to the end and couldn't wait till I commented on the Hawkgirl thingie.
Now: House of M. I didn't like it because it basically undoes what has been achieved over the last couple of years in the Marvel universe mutant-wise. Compared to Infinite Crisis it seems pretty dull. I didn't like the miniseries and I didn't like the outcome, but I have to admit, I have seen worse. And we knew what was happening, roughly. (maybe that was part of why it seems so dull)

Why do I not like it? A lot was achieved in the Marvel Universe over the last 5-7 years, especially for the Mutants. After seeing them an oppressed minority who didn't really have a chance to fight back, because they were too few, things finally changed.

Now, we are basically back where we were. Back at the end of the 80s/beginning of the 90s, only that the remaining mutants KNOW what is lost. So, it's even worse. I have seen all that. It's NOTHING NEW that's happening now. It's just all back where we have been 10-15 years ago. Thanks a lot Marvel.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Good points all.

In re: Hawkman/Hawkgirl, I don't have a problem with reading about Hawkgirl --- hell, she's been the main character in Hawkman for most of this year. But I'd hate to think that I don't get to see Hawkman at all at her expense, which is what it sounds like is going on. (Of course, I'd buy both a Hawkman and a Hawkgirl title, but that's just me.)

In re: House of M, I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt as a series, and that's pretty much the best I could come up with. I agree with most everyone else's points here as well, but I think when compared to Countdown to Incontinent Crisis (thanks, Kelvin) that it holds up rather well, mainly for its brevity and it singlemindedness of purpose, as opposed to sprawling aimlessly and trying to see what sticks.

7:50 AM  
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