The event that re-started summer events for Marvel Comics. The event that would solidify the Scarlet Witch as one of the most terrifying and powerful characters in the Marvel Universe.
Join Allan and Josh in the Hypertime as we run through what spawned the creation of this event along with the ramifications of it. This week, we discuss the Brian Michael Bendis classic, House of M.
Now to the show notes:
During his 8-year tenure writing Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis was able to lift the books out of the gutter and make them top selling books each month. With his success, he was given the reins to write a big summer crossover, but with a catch.
That same Summer, Joss Whedon was going to be away from the Astonishing X-Men books (possibly Serenity?) and his artist John Casaday needed at least 4 month headtime to start illustrating the next year of books. So the crossover needed to involve the X-Men as well during their absence. So Bendis started planning a big Astonishing X-Men/New Avengers crossover.
During a dinner with Jeph Loeb and Joe Quesada, Bendis was running through his Avengers Disassembled story. It was there that Jeph Loeb sparked an idea with a simple question “What does Magneto do?”, as Bendis didn’t have any plans laid out for what Magneto’s conclusion would be to the Disassembled arc. As the plans grew, it became an entirely different beast – not just a simple crossover, but a big mainline event for Marvel Comics.
The way Bendis describes it is a “Marvel Fantasia”. While Magneto is often considered a villain, he wanted Magneto to do something different. He didn’t want Magneto to punish the heroes, he wanted them to have their greatest desires.
Fans were hesitant about Bendis having the entire Marvel Universe to play with. During his run on Avengers, he had already killed off characters like Vision and Hawkeye, and Bendis was promising “Break the Internet” moments from this upcoming story. House of M became one of, if not THE, first comic event widely publicized on the Internet. It would show as the book would become an instant and absolutely monstrous success. Before the book released, Bendis said this to Newsarama:
I want people to open it up. By the end of issue 2, people are going to be like ‘Oh my God’. The end of issue 3, I guarantee you, is my best last page of a comic ever. I guarantee you. Everyone who’s read it has called me up and said, ‘Get out of here!’ I think by the end of issue 3, we’ll crack the Internet right in half. I think that’ll be it for the Internet.
House of M: Issue 1
Wanda is at it again, creating a reality where she gives birth to twins with friends and family around her. This however is broken up by Charles Xavier who tells her to stop abusing her powers and put things back to how they should be. The world shatters around her and it leaves her and Charles in a dark room where she grieves about killing the Avengers and her husband.
Magneto meets Charles outside and they speak about Wanda. Charles is fearful their tactics will not continue to work using drugs and psychic suggestions, and that her grip on reality is being lost more and more. Magneto feels lost. He lost the war against homo sapiens and he’s lost his children as well before floating into the distance.
We skip to New York City where a number of heroes have been called for a meeting. As some X-Men show up, we see Charles Xavier sitting amongst the rest to discuss Wanda Maximoff.
It flashes back to Wanda’s bedside where her brother Pietro/Quicksilver is on his knees as Magneto walks in. Pietro tells Magneto they are going to kill Wanda and the heroes, including Charles, are in talks now to do it. Magneto doesn’t necessarily think they are wrong which angers Pietro and saddens Magneto.
The next scene is the discussion about Wanda among the heroes. The sides go sort of expected. Heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wonder Man think she should live and that the Avengers should have the final call. Characters like Wolverine and Emma Frost think she needs to die to prevent more catastrophe and that the X-Men should make the decision since any fallout would hit them as mutants since Wanda is a mutant herself. Whatever the choice, something has to be decided on. Charles is fearful his help is on limited time and Dr. Strange, who has helped in the past, hasn’t found a way to solve this problem yet either through his research. They decide to take a trip to talk to Wanda and get her input on the decision.
They all fly to Genosha and are met with an eerie and shocking emptiness. They can’t find Wanda. Xavier can’t locate her. Dr. Strange is having trouble too. Though as they start to get near, more and more of them simply vanish without a trace. Then they arrive at a chapel and, if I’m understanding the art correctly, Spiderman is the last one remaining as he opens the doors before the world goes white.
Then Peter wakes up in his bed. He stands up and we see a body behind him. But it’s not MJ as he would expect, because the picture on his nightstand shows him and a blonde woman (Gwen Stacy) kissing during their marriage and a tuft of blonde hair sticking out from the bed sheets.
House of M: Issue 2
This issue sort of brings everything up to speed with where people are in the new House of M universe while also showing that nobody seems to have their memories of their previous lives.
Captain America is old. Just a man living in the bronx. Nothing special. We hear over the radio that MJ Watson is a huge movie star while Cyclops is getting ready for work and gives Emma a piece of toast (she says poptart), and she makes a mention she is going to be helping Little Richards today, whose parents were astronauts and died in space (Fantastic 4).
Dazzler has her own talk show and her guest is Wonder Man who stars on a tv show on NBC. It’s also rumored he has something going on with Carol Danvers, who the issue cuts to flying over the city and named as the most popular superhero in America (mutants flying behind her too). She hears a police siren and we see Gambit in a getaway vehicle being stopped by Ms. Marvel. Gambit throws some cards at her but she quickly dispatches him by throwing him into a giant statue of a Sentinel head.
Kitty Pryde is teaching mutant students and the lesson is how Prince Namor was the first mutant. Also important – Dragon Ball exists in the world as a Goku head is shown on the shirt of a little girl answering the question.
Next scene is Detective Sam Wilson walking in to ask questions to Luke Cage about what happened to Wilson Fisk. Someone beat him into a coma, and Luke Cage is happy about hearing that.
We see Stephen Strange as a psychologist speaking with someone named Robert (Iceman?) who was with his child at a park and had a quick vision of a “wall of black” enveloping the city coming towards him before vanishing.
Colossus tilling the fields in Russia using his metal body to cover a large portion of the field.
Hank McCoy and Henry Pym work for Tony Stark and they are having a discussion about locating the mutant gene. Henry thinks he has a way to locate it, but Hank is telling him doing so is racist against mutants and regardless of the intention – it would look bad for the boss and be perceived anti-mutant for him and his image. It’s also here that we learn that homo sapiens may be going extinct as mutants are growing by the number, and Henry is concerned about that.
Ororo is planning to attend the Royal family event and trying to find the best dress to wear. We see Janet Van Dyne trying to guide her fashion with the attire she designed.
Then finally Wolverine who dreams of his Weapon X days only to wake up and see someone who looks like Jean Grey in bed with him. He freaks out and gets ready to stab her only for it to shift to Mystique who mentions that he didn’t mind last night thanks to his redhead fetish. He looks startled as he runs out the room to see Toad and Jessica Drew in military-like attire. He runs up a flight of stairs and we see a big splash page of the Helicarrier surrounded by jets and sentinels with an ominous M on flags and jets. Issue ends.
House of M: Issue 3
The first few pages shows Wolverine going through his memories. He remembers everything that happened, and not just in this world. When he asks Mystique about what they did yesterday, it confirms to him that things aren’t right. He realizes that something must have been done with Xavier, so he does what comes to mind. He leaps off the helicarrier. He lands on a building in Times Square and sees sentinels, ads with people he knows, and more.
We see a newspaper going over some of what is going on in the world including the House of Magnus gala, a mutant stem-cell debate raging that involves Otto Octavius, Peter Parker having a son, and more. Wolverine steals a bike and visits what used to be the Xavier Institute. He breaks in and asks the man living there where Charles Xavier is, but the man clearly doesn’t know. Wolverine leaves.
He then tries calling a few people he knows such as Charles and Peter Parker (the fan club?) but is distracted when he sees some mutants picking on a homo sapien.
He decides to visit Tony Stark in NYC only to be greeted by his former SHIELD teammates of Rogue, Toad, Nightcrawler, Jessica Drew, and Mystique. He fights his way out, and with a little help from a resistance squad (including Cloak), he finds himself greeted by Luke Cage. Luke tells him to trash the tracker in the base of his neck, but if he doesn’t, they’ll do it for him. This will be done courtesy of Hawkeye who has an arrow pointed directly at him.
House of M: Issue 4
Magnus overlooks his kingdom in Genosha as his grandchild made a ship using his mind. Magnus seems…unphased.
Cuts back to the resistance squad. Wolverine tries to calm everyone down, but Hawkeye is tired of waiting and fires the arrow taking out the tracker but looking to have killed Wolverine. By the time he comes back, much to everyone’s surprise, he notes his being out for 30 seconds is “too late” as sentinels come crashing in. People scramble but Cloak is able to get some of them out and whisks them away to Wilson Fisks old office.
Cage explains he grabbed Wolverine because of him ditching SHIELD, and found it interesting based on what he was told. He wants to see if it all lines up. So Wolverine goes over what he knows happened involving Wanda and the world that used to be. What comes as a shock to Wolverine is that Wanda is “the human one”. They discuss it some more about Wanda’s abilities and that Hawkeye was dead. Everyone gives Wolverine the benefit of the doubt when he starts giving names and who they all are. Luke admits that he had seen a vision too when he met Layla Miller, a little girl who they have with them. Layla is aware of everything too, though she doesn’t know why.
Wolverine figures out why he remembers. His mind had been altered so many times in the past that he doesn’t remember everything. All he ever wanted was to regain those memories. So he thinks Magneto forced Wanda to do just that – give Magneto and everyone else the thing they wanted the most. How did he learn that? By using Xavier.
Wolverine has a plan and they put it in action. Using Cloak, they show up at Emma and Scott’s apartment right before Emma walks in. The goal here is for Layla to clear Emma’s mind like she did Luke Cage’s. Emma’s immediate suspicion is that they are robbing her. But she freezes them all with her powers. She looks in Layla’s mind to find out what’s going on, and that connection causes a flood of memories to hit Emma. Much like what Wolverine remembers, we see a scene of the open chapel doors. Three cloaked men sitting behind Xavier and a closeup of Xavier’s face, eyes wide and one tear rolling down his cheek.
Emma is pissed and vows to kill Magneto for this “House of Magnus” thing, which Wolverine is fine with. But they’ll need more to succeed, and even succeeding doesn’t mean the world will be fixed.
House of M: Issue 5
The issue begins with Emma taking a look inside of Layla’s head and trying to figure out how she does what she does. Unfortunately, Emma doesn’t have any answers, but promises Layla she will be by her side to help her.
Cyclops enters the apartment, confused as to what’s going on, before Emma and Layla push Cyclops to remember the old world as well leaving him to vomit. Once he gets his bearings, they decide to head out and get some other heroes together, starting with Spiderman.
Peter is out walking with his family including Gwen Stacy, their child Richie, Aunt May, and Uncle Ben. The crew confront him and make him remember which freaks him out, especially after seeing his new life and the people in it. He runs off and Wolverine follows him giving him time to get his emotions out. He decides he wants to kill Magneto and Wanda, but Wolverine tells him he won’t get the chance.
The crew continues getting their group together by bringing aboard Kitty Pryde, Stephen Strange, Ms. Marvel, Tony Stark, Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk), and Matt Murdock. They even try to bring aboard Captain America, but realize due to his age in this world, he is useless.
As the team discusses their plan, Wolverine’s old SHIELD crewmates bust in and a battle ensues before Layla causes their memories to resurface as well. During the fight, Hawkeye splits without anyone noticing. The rest of them decide to take on Magneto head on.
The last couple pages show Magneto being comforted by his daughter Polaris due to the upcoming gala, but something seems to be on his mind, and we see what is on the final page. The memorial for Charles Xavier.
House of M: Issue 6
The heroes hop aboard the SHIELD helicarrier, cloaked by Emma’s psychic powers. She is able to set the course of the helicarrier to Genosha, and they begin their journey.
We see Genosha and all the world leaders begin to arrive. Victor Von Doom is first, and no mask at all. Magnus wasn’t expecting him there, but is okay with it nonetheless.
Next scene is Luke Cage trying to call Jessica Jones only to hear that she’s with another man, so he hangs up. Spiderman is there too and questions if MJ would have been more successful in life with him not in it. Cyclops comes in and gives a leadership speech to everyone about no restraint and this being a battle they can’t afford to lose at any cost.
During this conversation, the topic comes up: what if the old world is not salvageable? Do they tell anyone? Should they even try to set the world back? Jessica Drew is thinking the world is better off as it is – they all got what they wanted and maybe this was deserved and meant to happen in the long run. Wolverine thinks that’s something she’ll regret thinking. No more talk, they are getting close to Genosha.
The gala is underway and we see King T’Challa, Victor Von Doom, Genis-Vell, Storm, and King Namor being greeted before the reveal of the House of Magnus. In between all these reveals, we see the heroes plan their attack.
Suddenly, one of the sentinels falls out of the sky towards the gala which Magnus stops in mid-air as the heroes leap in and the battle begins. Cyclops is able to distract Magnus in a way (taking out Wanda) to cause his concentration over the sentinel to fade and it comes crashing down on them. Rogue, who has absorbed some of Layla’s powers, is going around trying to convert some of the memories there starting with Namor and Storm.
Meanwhile, Emma, Layla, and Cloak are secretly looking for Xavier. While searching, they locate Xavier’s memorial stone indicating that he is dead. But when Cloak floats down below and returns, he tells them it’s not over yet. Xavier’s body isn’t there. No coffin. No body.
House of M: Issue 7
The battle continues and we see Rogue tackling Genis-Vell and absorbing his powers too. About that same time, Pietro thinks something is wrong with Wanda. She is crumbling away leaving him to think that the heroes have done something to her. He storms the battlefield only to be stopped by Rogue and her Genis-Vell powers.
Stephen catches a glimpse of a light in one of the towers, and decides to investigate. It’s there that he locates Wanda playing with her two children. Both greet each other, and both do it very cordially, and Wanda mentions that the body they had previously seen in the battle wasn’t the real Wanda and just something she provides so her father has someone to show off in her place. During the talk, Dr. Strange mentions that they are there because of her and so is Layla Miller. But Wanda doesn’t know who that is.
Dr. Strange is trying to get answers, but Wanda doesn’t really want to provide any and it’s starting to upset one of her children. Dr. Strange apologizes and brings Wanda up to speed about all of their friends fighting and she opens up the wall to see. This disappoints Wanda as she was hoping she had created a world where no more fighting like this would be necessary. At least, that’s what “he” had told her. Wanda then shows Stephen what led up to the House of M.
We see the panels from issue 1 where Pietro and Magneto are arguing about what to do with Wanda. It’s there we see Pietro comforting Wanda who has just woken up and he is saddened by his inability to protect her. He wants to take her away where they will never find her, but she is okay with the outcome of them taking her away. Pietros frustration is what leads to him proposing the idea of having Wanda create a new world. One where everyone is happy. Where their family is ACTUALLY a family that truly cares about one another. He continues to push Wanda as the flashback pans out and we see Dr. Strange comes to the realization that Magneto isn’t to blame, but Pietro.
Dr. Strange puts out the call to Emma who is still looking for Xavier, and as Dr. Strange brings it up to Wanda, she is hit by arrows in the back. It’s at that same time that Magnus has located Layla, Cloak, and Emma; and Layla is able to refresh Magneto’s mind here as well.
Hawkeye stands planning to put another arrow into Wanda, screaming at her for what she’s done. He loved her and would do anything for her, but her actions killed him. She seems unphased by the feelings thinking that bringing him back was fine. Suddenly one of the twins screams and Hawkeye breaks apart seemingly dying again. Wanda comes to the realization that she isn’t in control of it anymore.
The battlefield again. Pietro speeding around taking people out. That is until everyone is wrapped up in metal as a newly aware Magneto enters the battlefield. He is pissed. Not at the situation necessarily, but at everything Pietro has done in his name. He is pissed that Pietro used his family for this outcome, and used Magneto’s name for it all. With Pietro captured, Magnus flings large pieces of metal at him and seems to snap Pietro’s neck (based on what I can tell?) and Wanda is able to sense this too. This makes her snap. The tower rips apart and she floats down to Pietro.
She heals Pietro, reviving him and his damaged body. Wanda finally speaks to everyone. How Pietro was right. All he wanted was for everyone to be happy, but Magnus yet again tears them all apart. That even what he wanted, mutants to rule, still leads to the same outcome: people fighting each other and dying because of it. She’s tired of it all and considers mutants freaks. Then she says the words that would change the Marvel Universe for a long time – No More Mutants.
We see a wave of white again. Emma tries to set up a barrier. So does Stephen Strange. The issue ends with white.
House of M: Issue 8
The world is whole again. Layla Miller wakes up in her bed, posters of the heroes we know behind her. She opens her window and we see a contemplative look about what world she woke up in.
Peter wakes up in his bed, and MJ is there to greet him. He seems…off as he shambles off into the bedroom claiming he has a headache when MJ asks if he’s ok.
All of the heroes get together again. Some of them remember the House of M. Some of them don’t. There seems to be some confusion even though everything seems back together, even with Peter still emotionally drained from it all. Dr. Strange stumbles in and says not everything is how it should be.
It cuts to the Xavier Institute where Emma wakes up on the lawn to screaming from inside. People are in a frenzy. Some of them have lost their powers and they quickly realize that if this happened, and Wolverine lost his powers too, he would die from the adamantium in his skeleton. Nightcrawler is able to locate him, still a mutant, but all of his lost memories are back. He remembers everything.
Emma rushes to Cerebra to get a grasp on everything. They realize that what used to number in the tens of thousands to maybe a million mutants, now has dwindled to almost extinction. They need to find Xavier and try to figure out what happened to all the mutants who lost their power. Repressed the gene? Delete the gene? As they question, Iceman walks in fully human and looks to have lost his powers as well.
Next scene shows news reports about mutants losing their abilities with the Avenger heroes looking on. It comes to Dr. Strange’s realization that anyone at the battle who was protected by Emma’s or his shielding are the ones capable of remembering what happened. Dr. Strange isn’t able to locate Emma, and he’s disappointed that his duties as a master of the mystic arts to protect the world from these attacks failed. He can’t remove the memory from Spiderman either even after Peter requests it. That’s when Tony gets a notification that someone is at the Mansion.
When they go to visit, they see Hawkeye’s costume strung up with arrows along with a newspaper clipping of his death.
Scene in Genosha. Magnus all alone and unable to lift a fork using his powers before he falls to the ground defeated. The heroes show up and Wolverine threatens to kill him with a pretty good “Lost your power over metal, have yuh?” *snakt* *snikt* “I didn’t!” Magnus doesn’t know where Wanda is. He doesn’t know where Charles is. They decide to leave him, reminding him that he is now the thing he has waged his war over his entire life – a sapien.
The issue cuts to Wanda, out in some small European village. She seems happy. During this, there are bubbles showing an interview with Henry Pym who indicates how devastated the mutant race has now become and how this could affect the planetary ecosystem and it’s way to handle the change in populace.
Pym also brings up the point as the camera pans out from Wanda during all of this – how many mutants control/produce energy of some sort? What about those with influence over Earth elements? He wonders where all of this energy went. Because of Isaac Newton’s third law of physics “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. He questions what that reaction is. The final panel shows the entirety of the Earth and a red and white flare sparking from a location on Earth.
Long Term Ramifications:
- No More Mutants. All these years later, those words still have an impact on the Marvel Universe. Not only has it led to some other major events (Avengers vs X-Men anyone?), but it also placed Scarlet Witch as one of the most powerful beings on the planet.
- Many character changes were made because of this event. Hawkeye returned from the dead. Wolverine had lost memories return. Onslaught was reborn. Shadow King escaped his prison. Vulcan, brother of Cyclops, woke up from a long slumber because of the mutant energies released during House of M.
- While most event books bled into the monthly books, House of M tried to change that up. Some monthlies still included it (Cable & Deadpool, Excalibur, etc), Marvel tried something different. They decided to have a mini-series written around the event to enhance the world, but were not considered “necessary”.
- House of M began the long running tradition of Summer events. The first issue alone sold more than 233,000 copies.
- The first couple issues had “Astonishing X-Men” “New Avengers” above the title before being dropped after officially becoming a Marvel event.
- At the beginning of his Avengers run, he was already planting the seeds of Secret Invasion. Even during House of M, he was actively thinking about what the Skrull Queen would be thinking, and the reduction of the mutant numbers would be a giant help for her future plans.
- Before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote 60 pages of ideas on what these two films could be. In the list was “House of M”. It wouldn’t have involved the X-Men, but could still hit on similar beats, especially in regards to Scarlet Witch. They would like to be brought back to write it, but it would be a long game plan. They had reduced Scarlet Witch’s powerset, so they would need to build back up to it.
- It’s being rumored that House of M could find its way into the Disney Plus show Wandavision. One reason for the rumor is that one show called “Expanding the Universe” features Supervising Producer Mary Livanos discussing Wandavision. In it, pages of books that could be used for inspiration are shown behind her. If you look closely, many of them are from House of M.
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Intro and Outro Music: “RetroFuture Clean” by Kevin MacLeod
RetroFuture Clean Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License