Monday, September 4, 2023

No More Mutants


Unknown to the heroes caught up in the new reality of the House Of M--which came into existence when the Scarlet Witch, at the direction of another, reshaped the world as we knew it to conform to a utopian existence for mutants at the expense of homo sapiens--things appeared grim indeed for those among them who had regained their memories of their prior lives and have decided to travel to the island of Genosha to confront both Wanda as well as Magneto, the man they presume to be responsible for forcibly twisting their lives, and those of the planet's entire population, to better favor his own worldview. For we have been witness to evidence that the man they seek, Charles Xavier--presumed to have been forced by Wanda's power to help bring those changes to life--is now deceased.

And so, having commandeered the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and its resources (including its formidable Sentinel guard detachment), the group arrives just as the House of Magnus celebrates a glittering evening of special guests assembling to pay tribute to Lord Magnus and his family on the anniversary of "the rebellion against homo sapien oppressors that held the world captive for decades." It's Cyclops who lays out the stakes for everyone (in words that Captain America, unavailable to the group, might or might not have chafed at--it's a fair topic for debate)--and following the deployment of their initial sortie in the form of one of the Sentinels, all hell breaks loose.

The bad news for the group unfortunately comes not long afterward, when its second team of Emma Frost, Layla Miller, and their teleporter, Cloak, locate the man they were intent on finding. But there is a significant mystery associated with their discovery, which invites no small measure of confusion.

Which brings us to the third team, a team of one: Dr. Strange, whose astral form will attempt to make headway with Wanda. It's by far the more tantalizing of the scenes we've been presented with thus far in this series, as it carries the possibility of learning more about Wanda's state of mind than its instability combined with the onslaught of guilt she carries from her previous actions against the Avengers. How, we must wonder, did Wanda, a long-standing character and an Avenger beyond reproach, reach this point? Given the many fluctuations in her abilities, to say nothing of the different forms and origins attributed to them over the years which have driven readers crazy, Strange's prior thoughts on the subject during the crisis at their mansion begin to sound plausible.

All of which might give us some measure of sympathy for the classic character we've known as the Scarlet Witch, particularly if we were to go back and attempt to identify scenes in which her level of manipulation and/or "control" shifted to such a degree as to have an adverse effect on her state of mind, however imperceptible it might have appeared at the time. But... bear in mind that the full story has yet to play out on this subject. I'll only say at this point that Strange's explanation will ultimately amount to, as Rick Jones might put it, "bunk."

Strange's talk with Wanda proceeds carefully, bit by bit attempting to move the needle as far as learning her motivations or reasons for what has happened to the world. For one thing, he manages to identify for us key information regarding a matter of some significance, that being the secret behind the "existence" of Layla Miller. And when the discussion moves to the subject of Xavier and Magneto, this tête-à-tête becomes even more revealing, as we return to the point in time where Wanda's brother, Pietro, fearing that that Avengers and the X-Men were going to terminate her, implored their father to act. This time, however, we are witness to what followed that heated conversation.

As we can see, the news revealing the true culprit is meant to land on both Strange and ourselves like a falling safe. After all, if we're talking instability here, having Pietro turn out to be the one to make a bad situation worse, even with the best of intentions, is a possibility that should have come to mind for all of us, as he can sometimes seem to be a chip off the old block in that regard; but in any event, Magneto made a fine red herring, as his judgment has nearly always proven to be in question when he's driven to such lengths.

From here, things begin to mushroom out of control, thanks to two developments: the return of Hawkeye, outraged at his treatment by Wanda given their history together, and Magneto learning of Pietro's manipulation of Wanda thanks to Layla. Neither development will turn out to rectify the situation, much less calm Wanda to the point of anyone in Cyclops' group being able to reach her; instead, it's Magneto's retribution against Pietro which drives her to commit yet another irrational act.


The House Of M series reaches its conclusion!
(That's not to imply any degree of satisfaction awaiting you.)

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