Friday, October 07, 2005

There comes a point

House of M #5

There comes a point where you just lose faith. I've been hanging in there with House of M, mainly because I'm a big Bendis fan and the art is lovely to look at. I've been trying to convince myself this is going to turn into something unmissable, but...

Look at the contrast between Bendis' work in House of M and in Avengers. A couple of issues into the Sentry arc, it's clear Bendis has some very confusing tricks up his sleeve, what with repeating dialogue, appearances of real life comic book artists and a silver age hero no-one has ever heard of. I don't know how he'll resolve all this strangeness, but at this moment, the Sentry arc looks like a labour of love.

Not so House of M, which so far has surprised only in how ordinary it all is. "Wanda changes world, heroes spend four issues snapping themselves out of it," sums it up so far.

Then came this issue, which brought back horrible memories of Onslaught, the legendarily overblown X-Epic cross-over event.

My problem is the revelation here where Peter Parker finds out that his Uncle Ben and his wife, Gwen, are really dead, their son doesn't (didn't?) really exist, and his true spouse is the actress, Mary Jane Watson, who for once I'm going to refrain from being rude about. Lets leave aside the thorny question of why this revelation didn't appear where it belongs, in Spider-Man: House of M (what is that mini-series about, if not Peter's relationship with Gwen?). Knowing everything we do, we can be sure that Peter, if these unlikely events occurred, would hotfoot it back to Gwen and Uncle Ben to talk about it. That's why he's the neurotic geek he is. He would surely be very confused and unsure if he even wanted to reverse the changes Wanda made to the reality.

This should be a moment of critical choice for Peter. He's been tormented by the deaths of Ben and Gwen for years, now they're back. Maybe it was a fantasy, but Hawkeye was resurrected by Wanda and he seems real enough. Should Peter choose this fantasy and lose one wife, or choose reality and lose another? This should be a point of high drama. Even if this question bothers Peter in a future issue, this is the point all reason suggests it should happen.

The exigencies of the House of M storyline, however, mean that Peter is needed to travel to Genosha to sort out Magneto alongside a cohort of Avengers and X-Men. So Peter's automatic reaction is I swear to god, I think I'm going to kill them. Magneto. His stupid daughter. I'm going to kill them with my bare hands. I'm not, I'm not going to be able to stop myself.

Peter doesn't say this because it's a realistic reaction of his character. He says it because he has to traipse off to Genosha. The demands of the less than subtle House of M plot stampede over the fascinating questions the plot itself poses. And it reminds me all too much of Onslaught, where all the heroes slated for a revamp marched off to the Park for an utter letdown of a finale.

Then there was the latest issue of Thunderbolts, where dozens of trees died pointlessly for a storyline which was not only completely gratuitous, but interrupted the flow of a book which has had some difficulty getting back to its former glory following its de-cancellation.

Bendis is a great writer, and maybe he'll turn it round. But this is on top of the killing of Max Lord in Wonder Woman (why, incidentally, wasn't this vital plot point where it belonged, in The OMAC Project?), where a character full of personality was sacrificed so that the DC Universe could be flooded with a million identikit robots or cyborgs or whatever they are. It's just all got me thinking that it's time I ducked out of this crossover game. Countdown to Infinite Crisis, House of M, Infinite Crisis, 52, Decimation, The Other: there's just an avalanche of this stuff. And the problem is that they spread over all the other comics: both DC and Marvel appear to be revamping their universes, and if you just buy one or two titles, they just don't make any sense.

My interests tend to be cyclical, and traditionally, I've responded to moments like this by stopping buying comics altogether, coming back in a couple of years when I've grown nostalgic and (hopefully) policy at the major companies has improved. I'm strongly tempted to cull my pull list, but if I do, there probably won't be too much left to review.