Breaking Down Marvel's Secret Wars: House Of M

In the weeks following the announcement of the Secret Wars mega-event at New York Comic-Con, Marvel release 15 teaser images for event comics. Perhaps more interesting was that most of those teasers were for events that have already happened.

Last week, we discovered what the teasers were all about. These were the worlds that would come together during the events of Secret Wars to form Battleworld, the battleground planet where the event will take place.

To get you up to speed and excited for the events, we’ve prepared a series of articles breaking down the events that were teased so that you’ll be ready to revisit them next summer. Today, we’re looking back at

House of M

What Was It? Back in 2005, Marvel had a mutant problem. Namely, there were just too many of them. It was starting to feel like there were more mutants than humans in the Marvel Universe, which is a problem for their oppressed minority narrative (unless you’re as clever as Peter Milligan or Grant Morrison, who each managed to brilliantly turn the concept on its head in X-Statix and New X-Men, respectively, but you can’t expect everyone Marvel hires to write X-Men comics to be that good). It was a genie that Marvel editorial really wanted to put back in the bottle, and House of M is how they did it.

The story is framed as a follow-up to Avengers Disassembled, the story in which the Scarlet Witch went insane and killed fellow Avengers Ant-Man, Hawkeye, and husband The Vision. Since then, Professor X has been secretly treated Wanda on the ruined island of Genosha, aided by Wanda’s father, Magneto. When Xavier realizes that The Scarlet Witch is beyond his help, he calls a meeting of X-Men and Avengers to decide her fate.

As soon as he hears about the meeting, Wanda’s brother, Quicksilver, realizes what it’s going to be about. He assumes that the heroes will decide the only option is to kill The Scarlet Witch, and races to the island at super speed. He pleads with his father to do something to save Wanda’s life, but Magneto doesn’t have any answers. In his moment of deepest despair, Pietro goes to Wanda and weeps.

Suddenly, reality begins to chance. The Scarlet Witch uses her power to rewrite everything, creating a new world where everyone has what they’ve always desired. Most notably, Magneto’s dream of mutant dominance comes true, as the United States is now dominated by mutant culture, with humans deemed second-class citizens on the brink of extinction.

Was It Any Good? Eh. House of M had the same problem that of a lot of events have, where you feel like you’re reading it more for the aftermath than the actual story itself. If you have a problem with the way Brian Michael Bendis paces his stories, you will have a problem with House of M. At the time of House of M, artist Olivier Coipel had also not quite tightened and polished his art style to level that he has today.

For all of its problems, it’s not a terrible read. Layla Miller debuts with the mutant power to move the plot along in a very transparent way, but if you can get past that, it’s a light, fun action romp, with some nice superhero battles. It’s hardly essential reading though.

Significant Deaths: No one dies in House of M – in fact, Hawkeye inexplicably comes back to life - but a lot of mutants faced what they would consider to be a fate worse than death.

Lasting Consequences: “No more mutants.” Those three words, spoken by the Scarlet Witch, set up the status quo and major storylines of the X-Men comics for years to come. Mutants around the globe suddenly lost their powers, reducing the number of mutants in the Marvel Universe to an estimated 198. This included major character like Professor X, Iceman, Magneto, and Quicksilver, though they all got better sooner or later. Some characters of a slightly lesser profile, such as Jubilee, Mirage, Prodigy, and Calisto, remain depowered to this day.

The spell also restored Wolverine’s memory, allowing Marvel Comics to tell the story of Wolverine’s true history before Fox did it in a movie. It’s because of this that we got Wolverine: Origin, revealing that Logan’s true real name is James Howlett, and all the drama that ensued between the Howletts and the Logans.

As mentioned above, the series also introduced the character of Layla Miller, who would become much more interesting as a member of X-Factor Investigations in the pages of Peter David’s X-Factor series, which was launched as a House of M spinoff.

The Teaser: This one seems pretty easy. Expect House of M #1 to take place in the world that the Scarlet Witch constructed, as if the events of House of M never happened, but with the sudden formation of Battleworld setting the agenda.

House of M #1 is set for release summer 2015. Secret Wars begins May 2015.