Thursday, September 7, 2023

Witch Hunt!


We've reached the final installment of the House Of M limited series from 2005, where the X-Men and the Avengers found themselves swept away into a new reality created by the Scarlet Witch at the behest of her brother, Quicksilver--one which made mutants the dominant species, while our heroes were made to forget their past lives and histories in favor of an existence which saw their fondest hopes and dreams realized. Yet all of that changed when Wolverine, who somehow retained his memories, began to gather the troops--and with the help of a young mutant named Layla Miller, those who could be located traveled to Genosha once more to confront the ones involved in the deception, unfortunately leading to the Scarlet Witch again unleashing her power to alter the state of the world, for better or worse.

In this issue, which essentially has everyone pulling themselves together and picking up the pieces upon finding themselves back in their previous lives, we'll unfortunately be left with lingering questions which still lacked answers even in the course of eight issues. For instance: Where is Charles Xavier, taken from the heroes' midst when they first landed on the island of Genosha to settle the matter of the Scarlet Witch's disposition, the only indication of his fate being a memorial garden set up in his honor? And what finally happens with Wanda, who remains at large? From a publication stance, the only thing that this issue makes clear with reasonable certainty is that the goal of House Of M was to set up plots tying in to any number of upcoming books (e.g., Civil War (mid-2006) and Secret Invasion (mid-2008), two other multi-title events) for the foreseeable future, profitable ventures which appeared to be the only "reality" of concern to Marvel in the early 2000s.

Still, let's see where things stand following Wanda's cryptic declaration of "No more mutants" and a subsequent blinding flash which signaled another seismic shift in reality. For what it's worth, it appears that Magneto isn't going to walk out of this unscathed, if Wolverine has anything to say about it.

Across the board initially, it appears that only a select number of people retained their memory of what happened while living under the banner of the House of M. But for the world's mutant population, the situation, and the outlook, is far more dire.

For Wolverine, the effect has guaranteed similar implications for the character, in that he now recalls his entire life, thus becoming a potential threat for those governments and agencies which benefited from his blocked memories--while the U.S. government has formed a proactive force known as O.N.E. (the Office of National Emergency) in response to the sudden "cleansing" of mutants, in addition to reports of surfacing zealots intent on finishing the job.

Meanwhile, in light of the increasing fervor regarding the dwindled mutant population, the Avengers have decided to withhold from the press the details of what actually happened on what came to be regarded as "M Day." From there, we receive further nuggets thrown our way, such as an intrusion at Avengers Mansion that in all likelihood gives every indication of Hawkeye's handiwork:

...and, of course, the one person the X-Men want to grill for information on the whereabouts of certain individuals of interest: well as a bone thrown our way that shows Wanda milling about in Transia.

In the follow-up one-shot, House Of M: The Day After (part of the "Decimation" line of titles), which further focuses on the fallout, other loose ends remain loose ends, such as lab work which is still going nowhere:

(There's really no big mystery here, Doctor--the cause consists of three words, "the Scarlet Witch," which you already knew. But I'm no biochemist, so far be it from me to chime in.)

Also, a scene which reveals the fate of Quicksilver, no longer a mutant and barely getting by in "Mutant Town," and further explored in--you guessed it--the 2006 Son Of M six-issue limited series.

As for Xavier, he pops up on Muir Island in the Ed Brubaker gripping 2006 series X-Men: Deadly Genesis in a confrontation with the mutant named Vulcan, amid a web of lies he manufactured in the past for which Vulcan has come to exact vengeance.

It's unclear how this explanation jives with the "Where is Xavier?" queries that littered the House Of M series, to say nothing of the memorial for him on Genosha and its implication that he was dead--in addition to Wanda, as well, evading such questions when the Avengers and the X-Men returned to the island. It's a fair question even now: Where was he during this time? It seems clear that he wasn't among those who were living a happy and content life, nor was he apparently on Genosha where Emma Frost's power could have detected his presence. The only fair guess to make is that Quicksilver was keeping him under wraps out of concern that he could upend the plan Pietro had in place--but where, and how?

It's wouldn't be until 2010, however, that Marvel would finally play the biggest card it could play in this event, one it held close to its vest: the long-awaited resolution in regard to the Scarlet Witch, which would play out in the nine-issue limited series Avengers: The Children's Crusade, with guest-stars the Young Avengers, Dr. Doom, and, as we can see, the many heroes who would like nothing more than to have a word or two with Wanda.

Obviously there have been developments with Quicksilver and Magneto in the years preceding--to say nothing of Wanda, who had ended up in Latveria and, when found by her spiritual sons, Billy and Tommy (respectively, Wiccan and Speed), had developed amnesia and was awaiting nuptials with Doom. Finally, though, with Wiccan's help, she regains her memories--and, due to a time jump put in effect by Iron Lad, the Young Avenger who would grow up to be (who else?) Kang the Conqueror, she and they (along with Jessica Jones, Hawkeye, and the Beast) find themselves back at the point in time where Wanda again initiates her attack at Avengers Mansion, but this time for a different purpose.

Along the way, history has been changed, with Scott Lang surviving that day to rejoin his daughter, Cassie (the Young Avenger, Stature). And the only thing that saves all of them this day, including Wanda, is the plaintive voice of Wiccan, who convinces her that a "transmigration of souls," as he once put it, has returned her sons to her.

With hope for Wanda permeating the air, and the Avengers placated at least until their arrival, that leaves Hank McCoy to put forth a possible solution to her dilemma as far as making amends. If this all seems too pat to you, perhaps it is, if only because the words "in theory it should work" don't inspire confidence even at this stage of the story. Also, aside from the fact that the Avengers still have to make a decision in regard to Wanda, aren't we forgetting a super-group that also has unfinished business with her?


Haven't we forgotten someone else?
"The Master Plan of Doctor Doom!"

In case you've been aching for another

Marvel Trivia Question

How did Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd discover the truth about themselves?

It turns out they have the Super-Skrull to thank:


Big Murr said...

I gotta confess that when this "no more mutants" thing revealed itself, I really hoped it would stick.

As far as what appeared on the newstands, mutants already ruled the world. Or, the Marvel world at least. Sometimes it felt, even though Beast speculates there about a "million mutants", the Marvel Earth was eyebrow-deep in mutants.

This "no more mutants" wasn't any genocide, no Sentinel pogrom, nobody died. There were even a sufficient number left to allow them to have their persecuted minority status (and stories).

It seemed ideal.

Comicsfan said...

And, as a result, ideal perhaps for Marvel in another sense, Murray. Had House Of M ended without repercussions, we would have been left wondering what all of this was done for; instead, while the mutant population has been been taken a scythe to by the events of "M Day," enough of a presence remains to provide adequate story material from this point on without mutants having achieved the influence or power base that would warrant the rise of another Genosha and all that such status would entail. Hard to say if this was actually the end goal here; but as we've seen in looking further into Wanda's situation, it's clear that the solution the Beast proposes presents a daunting outlook which may or may not see (you'll excuse the word) reality.