Thursday, August 31, 2023

Reality Check


We've recently begun taking a detailed look at the 2005 Marvel event known as House Of M, which followed up on the chain of events that led to the Avengers falling victim to one of their own--the Scarlet Witch, who suffered the breakdown of all breakdowns and unleashed her reality-altering abilities on her former friends, shattering their ranks and leading to a confrontation that saw her taken into the custody of her father, Magneto, who returned with her to the (now devastated) island of Genosha.

Together with Charles Xavier, the two sought to treat Wanda's mental state, though it became clear that they could do nothing for her. That led to a briefing with the New Avengers and the X-Men, and a decision to travel to Genosha to hopefully meet with Wanda and settle matters between them. But soon after arrival, both teams became engulfed in a wave of power that changed their thoughts, their histories, and their lives to align with a new reality where mutants were the dominant culture, and the world's population fell under the reign of the so-called House of M[agnus] which consisted of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, Lorna Dane, Wanda's two children, and the man himself, Magneto.

It's not the ideal world for homo sapiens, the dwindling race of humans who still enjoy decent lives but are nevertheless looked down upon as "sapiens"--though you'd never know there was any serious discord if you passed by the magazine stand and picked up the news on the latest goings-on.

But will this be the "new normal" for sapiens--for everyone? That depends on the actions of the one man who somehow retains his knowledge of the prior reality--the premiere operative of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s elite Red Guard unit, who struggles to piece things together from what he knows to be the final moments of a world now ripped away.

It was Xavier who without warning disappeared from their midst when the two teams arrived on Genosha and were about to make their way to Wanda. Regrettably, for Wolverine, the mystery of what happened to him only deepens when he abandons SHIELD and begins to investigate on his own.

Of course, it's to be expected that his former SHIELD teammates aren't going to let the matter of his own disappearance drop--but unknown to them, this is now a different man than the one they once knew and trusted, though one they know to still be just as dangerous.

Logan being Logan, he makes his getaway despite warnings to the contrary from his lover, Raven Darkholme, before eventually ending up in "Sapien Town" (aka Hell's Kitchen), an area where the worst elements of normal humanity congregate and where he's met by underworld overlord Luke Cage--flanked by Danny Rand (Iron Fist), Misty Knight, Marc Spector (Moon Knight), Angela Del Toro (the White Tiger), Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat), and the Sons of the Tiger, collectively forming the nucleus of the Human Resistance Movement. We also learn that part of that movement is none other than Hawkeye, whom we know was killed in action during Wanda's attack on Avengers Mansion.

None are too happy to see a mutant suddenly among them, much less a member of Red Guard--but his story lines up with that of another recent arrival, Layla Miller, a young mutant who perhaps holds the key to everyone coming to realize the truth.

A surprise attack by the Sentinels, however, forces those who survive the assault to relocate (thanks to their teleporter, Cloak). From there, they follow Logan's lead to the home of Scott Summers and his wife, Emma Frost-Summers, where Layla's mutant talent seems to operate instinctively.

For now, Emma remains as stumped as the rest of her group (as well as ourselves) as to the nature of Layla's power. Regardless, with her help, the decision is made to continue to gather and restore the memories of those they're able to locate--even to the detriment of the one hero who sadly has the most to lose from the revelation.

Yet refraining from "awakening" one who cannot rejoin them:

Hawkeye, who's learned from Wolverine of his fate during Wanda's attack, is the only person who has refused Layla's help, obviously having a rough time at sorting things out for himself. At that moment, however, the Red Guard, having finally tracked down Wolverine, bursts in to attack--but thanks to Layla, by the time the dust settles all of them have their memories restored, though the former "Agent Rogue" offers a somewhat unnerving impression of their young charge.

All appear to be agreed that their priority is to recover Xavier, which will mean potentially engaging heavy resistance from Magneto and his security forces in Genosha. Yet the closing panels of this segment of the story reveal a more grim portent of what awaits.


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