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House of M #5

Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Olivier Coipel (p), Tim Townsend (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
As Logan's group continues to add to its numbers with Emma helping young Layla to awaken the various heroes from their happy new lives, not every hero is pleased to discover the truth, as Peter Parker finds out his wife and Uncle Ben were murdered, and his child never existed. However, as the book pays a visit to the House of M royal family, it offers up an unexpected revelation that is sure to make things difficult for our heroes.

Comments:
This miniseries isn't exactly rocketing forward - five issues into an eight-issue miniseries and still at the gathering of the heroes stage of the story. However, Brian Michael Bendis is a writer who knows his strengths as he's one of the best in the business when it comes to selling the emotional beats of a story, and this issue has one of the most powerful character moments that Spider-Man has ever been given, as his awakening scene packs a genuine emotional punch, and the rooftop exchange between Peter and Logan displays an amazing understanding of both characters. In fact the scene where Peter has his eyes opened to the truth is so powerful that it was a little difficult to accept his return to form so quickly. However, Spider-Man has always used humour to mask his true feelings, and it's perfectly in character that he would be back to offering up his witty banter even in light of such a difficult transition. Hopefully Spider-Man's House of M miniseries has a plan to work its continuity into the events here, as there looks to be a serious conflict, but I'll praise the writing if they manage to connect the two stories in a seamless manner. This issue is also sure to get readers buzzing with its final page revelation, and while I'm not going to spoil the surprise it caught me completely off guard, and adds an unexpected wrinkle to the story. There are also solid character moments, like where the heroes react to the idea that Captain America can't be of much use to them, or where Rogue offers up her opinion of Layla, which I suspect is an important clue about her true identity (I'm guessing she's a Watcher).

Olivier Coipel is turning out his best work yet, and he couldn't have picked a better project to bring his A-game to the table, as it's easily his highest profile project. Part of the credit should go to the highly polished inks of Tim Townsend, as he brings out the details on the page. The book opens with a wonderfully surreal sequence as Emma and Layla take a literal tour inside the young girl's head. The artists sell the big impact scene where Peter Parker is woken up as, in addition to a lovely double-page shot that offers up a quick tour of the character's thirty plus years of adventures, the follow-up page where images of Gwen's death intrudes upon his happy new life add some emotional weight. There are a wealth of little details, from Logan spending the issue running around in his blood spattered shirt, to Luke Cage's disgusted expression when the Toad uses his tongue to ensnare him. The final page reveal is handled to near perfection, and we are left with the sense that Magneto is actually in mourning.



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