Thunderbolts: House of M (Parts 3-8)

He's back, briefly, from House of M #3

"House of M" (Parts 3-8) from House of M 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (2005)
"The Ballad of Clint Barton and Wanda Maximoff" from New Avengers 26 (2007)

Reader Rating: Below Average; Thunderbolts Interest: Medium

Summary: Wolverine comes to realize that the House of M reality is skewed, flees his associates at S.H.I.E.L.D., and hooks up with an underground human resistance movement led by Luke Cage and Hawkeye. Their secret weapon is a youngster named Layla Miller, who has the power to bring people back to awareness of the true reality. Assembling additional heroes, they attack the House of M at their Genosha home. Finally, Wanda is forced to restore reality with one major difference: "no more mutants." The X-Men discover that many (but not all) of Xavier's students have lost their mutant gene.

Well, two major differences, actually: Hawkeye's alive. After a visit to Dr. Strange, the resuscitated Clint Barton heads for Europe, where he has a romantic encounter with Wanda, who has utterly forgotten that she was ever a Witch.

Working for SHIELD: Mystique, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Spider-Woman and the Toad. The resistance movement includes Cyclops, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat), Iron Fist, Emma Frost, Iron Man, Misty Knight, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, Kitty Pryde, She-Hulk, Shroud, Spider-Man, and several others who are never identified. The House of M includes Lorna Dane, Magneto and Quicksilver. Visitors include the Black Panther, Dr. Doom, Genis-Vell, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Storm. Captain America and Charles Xavier make brief, but important, appearances.

Continuity: Hawkeye is disassembled (again) in the House of M reality, but revived for good with the final twist of House reality. The impact of House of M on our one mutant Thunderbolt (Skein) is not specified.

Comments: For such a high-profile, continuity-important story, "House of M" is very poorly executed. Olivier Coipel draws in a scratchy, exaggerated style that is unattractive and makes many characters unrecognizable. If you're expecting help with that from writer Brian Michael Bendis, forget it: He provides no expository text and a minimum of dialogue. Despite the dozens of characters, only a handful display unique personalities (Spider-Man, notably). Even more frustrating than the lazy scripting is the lack of dramatic action. There's a real conflict here: for most, the House of M life is better -- is it right to try to reset things? This conflict is talked about, but never dramatized. The few skirmishes do nothing to advance the plot, which boils down to: Wanda changes the world...then changes her mind.

At the end of the eight-issue series we are left with a few good scenes, a major shift in the MU landscape...and the feeling that this could have been great in the hands of creators who were truly inspired and not just going through the motions.

Set immediately after House (but published many months later), Ballad is a charming coda, enhanced by striking, moody art from Alex Maleev.

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This page was revised on February 16, 2008

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