Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Olivier Coipel, Frank D’Armata (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review: Bendis takes House of M to a more interesting place with this issue, showing us a Wolverine who – like many other Marvel characters in the series – has had his greatest wish granted: he remembers. Unfortunately, he’s the only member of the House of M universe who does remember the old world (at least, that we know of), and as such he leaves his current lodgings on a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier – taking a very direct route – to find out just what is going on.
Bendis crafts a decent reverse-mystery here, in the sense that the reader has a good idea of what is happening in House of M even as the characters struggle to keep up. He writes some solid action into this issue (an aspect sorely missing from the last couple of instalments), and gives us a few good character beats to pull us into the story too. The sequence in which a confused Logan attempts to contact Xavier or Peter Parker is at once disturbing and hilarious, and his subsequent hard-nosed attempts to discover the truth about this new reality are perfectly in-character. As for the closing moments of the issue, Bendis introduces a couple of new characters into the mix which will likely delight some fans, without revealing yet how they fit into the House of M reality. I was pleased to see Cloak show up, as I haven’t read about the character in years. However, the final page smacks of an attempt to placate fanboys or whip up further controversy over what was a non-event to start with, and as such it doesn’t really hook me for the next issue as much as it perhaps should. Maybe once Bendis reveals a little more about what’s going on here, I’ll enjoy it: but the simple final page reveal just isn’t enough to get me excited on its own.
There’s some truly gorgeous superhero art on display here from Olivier Coipel, with Wolverine’s leap from the helicarrier and the cool motorcycle chase that makes up the end of this issue both standing out as excellently rendered, kinetic sequences (a shame, then, that a distracting promotional flyer is stapled through the awesome double-page spread which shows Wolverine’s fall to the ground in the opening pages). Blurring effects are used sparingly but effectively to give a real edge to the action, making the images on the page really come to life and seem to move with the energy that all such great comicbook action demands. However, aside from the large-scale action, there are also some beautifully subtle little moments which show that Coipel is as comfortable with character nuances as he is with showy chase sequences. The pages showing Wolverine’s memories returning is simple but effective (and aided by the dreamlike, vivid colours of Frank D’Armata), giving us a taste of some classic Wolverine moments from the character’s own perspective. The emergence of Logan from a hedge outside Xavier’s school brings to mind the dark moodiness of classic character-reveals in films like Apocalypse Now or Silence of the Lambs, which suits the atmosphere of the scene perfectly. And some of the more fantastical elements like Nightcrawler’s X2-esque BAMF!-ing or Cloak’s emergence from the street concrete - which could have looked clumsy in other hands – are well-integrated with the more realistic street-level environments of House of M New York. I also love the background detail which shows a New York teeming with superpowered, weird and wonderful mutant inhabitants, and demands rereading to fully appreciate.
If I had any complaint with the art, it would be that the regular House of M covers (by Esad Ribic) are almost invariably inferior to the variant covers, lacking the dynamism or vivid colour that makes a comic leap off the stands. In particular, issue #3’s dramatic John Cassaday cover is a far more exciting image than the regular issue, and without getting into a rant about Marvel’s variant cover schemes, it seems a shame that Marvel would plump for such an unappealing artistic choice in marketing their flagship series.
All in all, this is a solid third issue which improves on the previous issues dramatically, moving the plot along in leaps and bounds, introducing all manner of new House of M concepts (I’m particularly excited to see where Luke Cage’s gang of Sapiens fit into the overall plot) whilst keeping the central plotline chugging along happily. Whilst it would have been nice to get a glimpse of Magneto, Quicksilver or the Scarlet Witch in this new reality by now, it may be the case that Bendis is planning to pull some twists on us – and as such, I won’t complain too much about their absence yet. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!