Writers: Mark Waid and Tom Peyer
Artists: Salvador Larroca (p), Danny Miki (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As a result of Marvel’s big summer event, the over hyped House of M, reality as we know it has been radically altered by Magneto’s daughter Wanda Maximoff, A.K.A. the Scarlet Witch. Mutants now rule the world, Homo Sapiens border on the brink of extinction and familiar super heroes are trapped in their own alternate universes.
In Spidey’s fantasy, he is an ex-wrestler and a rich and famous scientist married to Gwen Stacy with a loving son named Richie. Parker shaves his head before attending a birthday party being thrown in his honor by his legion of fans and family, including Aunt May and his wrestling rival Crusher Hogan. Earlier, Mrs. Parker informed Norman Osborn that his facility now belongs to her husband’s company, and that they are appropriating his inventory of weapons and inventions. A dejected J.Jonah Jameson, serving as Parker’s publicist, is fed up with what he perceives as Spidey’s abuse of him, but his self pity is interrupted by a familiar nemesis, the Green Goblin, who literally crashes the party.
Comments: While none of Marvel’s House of M tie-ins are bound to surpass the storytelling feats of previous apocalyptic fantasies like Peter David’s “Future Imperfect” on Hulk or Claremont and Byrne’s masterful “Days of Future Past” on Uncanny X-Men, this opening chapter to Spider-Man’s participation in Marvel’s new summer opus at least manages to deliver a fast paced prologue which doesn’t require one to read the main story to enjoy it.
That is the good news. The bad news is that I don’t buy Peter Parker would actually be happier with the life presented here. If we are to believe Brian Michael Bendis’ assessment that “Magneto has given each hero the chance to wipe away past regrets and live the life they always wanted,” as stated in a recent interview regarding this storyline, then we have to assume Peter would be happier with Gwen Stacy as his wife, a son, and the fame and notoriety of being a hot-shot scientist. So where does being a wrestler fit in? I never in all my years remember reading a Spidey comic where he expressed a desire to become a pro wrestler. For that matter, why do writers always assume Spidey would be happier with Gwen than he is with Mary Jane? I think that Peter does regret the circumstances which led him to lose his first love, but I don’t think that necessarily means he would have picked Gwen over M.J. given the choice to do so. There are a lot of character inconsistencies in this book, the most glaring being Peter’s mistreatment of J. Jonah Jameson. I realize that Peter could resent Jonah for treating him shabbily over the years, but he comes off as a slave driver and insensitive lout here, and it’s way off character, even in an alternate reality. The book would have probably rated higher if there were evident signs of humans clinging to the margins of existence or being mistreated, but most of the humans here (with the exception of Captain Stacy being harassed by mutant security guards) including M.J. and the Rhino don’t appear to fret much about the state of humans in this new world order. The only way this can be explained is to assume that they are exempt from harassment and bigotry by virtue of being part of Spiderman’s entourage, but shouldn’t they show some concern over mutant domination over humans?
Larroca does an adequate enough job with the artistic chores, and Liquid’s colors paint beautiful action scenes as well as more subdued portrayals of individual characters, but it gives the comic an artificial, almost surreal look which I guess is partly the point.
Final Word: An intriguing addition to Marvel’s House of M mega summer event which falls short of faithfully portraying everybody’s favorite web crawler, but packs more of a wallop than the usual introductory comic book tale to a limited series.
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