House of M: Spider-Man (2006)

 

Quote:
“Hope you don’t mind, Goblin, but I brought some of my buddies along.”

 

This book collects the five issue mini-series and was written by Mark Waid and Tom Peyer. I know Waid best from the Kingdom Come mini-series but he has had runs on other DC titles such as Flash and JLA and Marvel titles such as Captain America and Fantastic Four. Peyer was an editor on Sandman but I think this is the first book I have read for which he has a writing credit. The art was by penciller Salvador Larroca and inker Danny Miki. I know Larroca from the Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra and Ultimate Elektra mini-series and I don’t think I have come across Miki’s work before.

Peter Parker has the perfect life. He is one of the most famous mutants on the planet – as a wrestler and film star. He is happily married to Gwen Stacy with a small son and has the rest of his family around him including his uncle Ben. So why would anyone want to dirty his reputation? Who is the mysterious Green Goblin who passes the dirt, in the form of an alternate reality journal, to Parker’s personal whipping boy Jonah Jameson?

Peter Parker is the superhero who gets the roughest emotional ride in the House of M series when his memories are restored. And that continues in this great series from Waid and Peyer in which his real memories are trying to come to the surface and he goes from hero to zero with Jameson’s revelations in the press. The book continues a theme common to a lot of the House of M related series – the so-called dream come true reality created by the Scarlet Witch does not seem like a dream come true in actuality. The only fault that I can find with it is that I felt the ending was a little weak but other than that well worth a read even without any knowledge of the main book.

House of M (2006)

 

Quote:
“They gave us what we always wanted, and … isn’t there an argument that we deserved to get this? To be happy for once?”

 

I have put The Walking Dead re-read on hold for the moment as I have reached the same point as the TV series mid-season break and I want to se what they do in the series before carrying on in the comics. Instead I am going to read the House of M books as I have collected most of them from one source or another – I am only missing the Excalibur prelude.

House of M was the Marvel crossover event from 2005 and features the New Avengers and the X-men. This book collects the eight part main story and I was looking forward to reading it as the creative team was writer Brian Michael Bendis and penciller Olivier Coipel. I recently read and enjoyed the first New Avengers book that Bendis also wrote in the same era and as an added bonus I loved Coipel’s work on Thor.

The story takes place after the Avengers Disassembled storyline. The Scarlet Witch is being stabilised by Charles Xavier in Genosha but he fears that he can do little to prevent her having another potentially disasterous breakdown. The Avengers – old and new – and the X-men are gathered together to decide the fate of their former team-mate and fellow mutant. But they arrive too late to prevent the Scarlet Witch from rewriting reality and creating a world in which mutants rule over homo sapiens. Wolverine awakes in this new reality but finds that he remembers the original reality too and sets out on a quest to find out what is going on, round up any of the powered human resistance that he can and put things back they way they were if he can.

This is another great book from Bendis that I enjoyed very much. The storyline was interesting as it offered an alternative few of a mutant dominated world where Magneto won his fight to have mutants rule over the human population. The concept of dreams coming true is explored most thoroughly through the experiences of Peter Parker who is put through the emotional wringer by Bendis when he regains his memory of his true life. The weakness of the book is that it is being used as a game changer in the Marvel universe so a lot of questions are left unanswered presumably to be further explored in the individual comic series, especially the mutant ones, after the legacy that the Scarlet Witch leaves behind. But if you can accept that then it is a fine crossover story and well worth a read.

Bullet Points (2007)

 

Quote:
Stop him, sir? Perhaps I wasn’t clear. […] No one has ever stopped him.

 

This book collects issues 1 – 5 of the Marvel mini-series. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the great Babylon 5 who now seems to have moved into comics writing with stints on Marvel characters such as the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Thor and DC characters such as Wonder Woman and Superman as well as creating his own titles such as Rising Stars. The art was by Tommy Lee Edwards who has also worked on various Marvel and DC titles.

This is an alternative history of the Marvel universe. The premise is that the doctor who was due to administer the super-soldier serum to Steve Rogers is assassinated by a Nazi fifth columnist before he can do it. A soldier who was protecting him, Ben Parker, is also killed and these two deaths have a rippling effect that fundamentally changes the course of some of the characters in the Marvel universe. So as no one else can administer the serum Steve Rogers volunteers instead for the army’s back up plan the Iron Man project. With no father figure after the death of his parents, Peter Parker becomes a disaffected youth and wanders into the testing range just as the gamma bomb is to be tested becoming the Hulk. Reed Richards delays his space mission to look after the health of Steve Rogers but when the mission takes finally takes place it is sabotaged and he is the only survivor and becomes the head of SHIELD. Bruce Banner, wracked with guilt at the fate of Peter Parker, tries to find a cure and is bitten by an irradiated spider. And finally when Galactus turns up with the Silver Surfer there is no Fantastic Four to thwart him and so it falls to all the superheroes and villains to do their bit in the struggle to save Earth. And it falls to the most despised of these to turn the tide.

An interesting story from Straczynski with a fresh look at some old characters. Of course he is selective in how the effects of that one bullet ripple through time and there are holes in the plot you could drive a bus through at times – such as how did a surly teenager manage to find himself in the middle of a military testing range. But if you can put that aside it is an entertaining ride with cameo shots of lots of different Marvel heroes and villains, in the climatic battle, that I have not seen for a long time such as Tigra, the Scorpion and Cloak and Dagger to name a few. I have to say that I was not a great fan of the art on this one – it comes across as very crude at times – which surprises and disappoints me as Edwards has some lovely examples of his work on his web site.