House of M #3

Wolverine goes for a jump and then on the run, terrorising random civilians through London. Meanwhile… just kidding! That’s everything that happens in this issue, unless you count Angel’s sex tape. It’s House of M #3!

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Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Olivier Coipel, Tim Townsend, Rick Magyar, Scott Hanna, John Dell
Colourist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publishing Date: July 2005

Previously: Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff created an alternate universe where mutants and humans lived together happily – sort of. Everybody is off living un-heroic normal civilian lives, aside from world hero and Gambit slaughterer Carol Danver. Things seem generally to be fairly calm and happy, although we find out that Magneto has taken over the cause of world peace, suggesting that Wanda still doesn’t have quite the best grasp of reality at this time. It looks like the only person who knows what’s actually going on is Wolverine. What a handy coincidence that the only one who can save us is also the most marketable person in the company! This’ll shift some issues, then.

Things kick off with a history of Wolverine, over the course of two pages. Because a lot of his backstory was still a secret at this time, I think a few of these images could possibly be viewed as spoilers for what was to come, like a panel where he stares at a white wolf (finally Colossus makes sense!) whilst he has blood on his hands. We get the requisite flashbacks to Weapon Plus experimentation, although weirdly those come after a quick panel of him fighting ninjas with Captain America. Why was that the first thought that came to mine, Logan?

We see him fighting Hulk, of course, and my guess is that the dialogue here is all lifted directly from the original scenes – Bendis likes to do these homages to classic comics from time to time, probably because they counterbalance the “you hate the classics!!” messages he gets on formspring ten times a day.

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Jean dies, Mariko rejects him, and then Wolverine cuts back to the last thing he remembers, which is the end of issue #1 and the Avengers/X-Men trying to track down Wanda. Cyclops, being carried by Iron Man, has the longest arms in this scene! They’re covered up a little by Wanda’s spell, but those things are about the same length as the whole of Emma Frost.

Anyway Wolverine is busy burbling all his memories back when Mystique walks over to try and work out what’s going on, having ditched her Jean Grey cosplay from the end of last issue. Wolverines says that he remembers everything that ever happened to him – quite a shock, I bet – and asks her what they did yesterday. “Metaphorically?” she asks, because Mystique is filthy sometimes. Lord, Raven, nobody wants to know what you two have been up to with the spare Cyclops costume Logan has tucked away in the back of his closet. Asking a lot of jittery questions, Wolverine’s attention catches when Mystique refers to Magneto as “Lord Magnus”. As if Magneto wasn’t pompous enough a name already?

Wolverine seems to have a little extra knowledge the reader doesn’t, as we get a glimpse of three people in hoods stood around Xavier in a deserted chapel, looking either ominous or like the backing dancers for a Florence and the Machine concert. Mystique snaps him out of it and asks if he needs to go see Madame Web, who also seems to work for SHIELD.

At which point Logan up and jumps straight off the helicarrier. Logan, this is a new universe you’re in here! You don’t even know if you have healing powers right now, let alone if they’re still at the ridiculously jacked-up levels they’d reached by the millennium! He hurtles downwards, shirt billowing open to reveal his six-pack because, well, Olivier Coipel knows his audience.

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This isn’t meant to seem silly, but it plays like insane comedy, especially once he smacks straight into the side of a skyscraper and holds on. From this viewpoint he looks at Times Square, which has posters advertising Dazzler, Wonder Man, Storm and a brand of jeans called “VD”. Hope that doesn’t, uh, catch on?

Mary-Jane Watson has the top billing on the screen, advertising a brand which clearly Marvel couldn’t get licensing for. “Loreal” therefore becomes “lol” due to carefully placed bubbles on the screen. The weirdest bit of all, though, is that there’s a parade balloon in the shape of a giant Spider-Man. Does this mean J. Jonah Jameson isn’t a part of Wanda’s new Universe? I don’t want to be a part of this, if so.

A copy of “The Pulse” takes over the next few pages, confirming that The Bugle appears to be gone, alas. These pages are drawn by Mike Mayhew and written by the various House of M tie-in writers, each of whom are I guess looking to promote their share of the overall story. Basically what you need to know is that Magneto is holding some kind of huge civil event in a day or two, which’ll be filled with dignitaries from around the World – Namor, Storm, that sort of thing.

The article goes on to explain a little about Magneto – sorry, Magnus – and his last few years, confirming that he stopped a mass sentinel event and proved to humanity that mutants weren’t something to hate and fear anymore.

Also, Warren Worthington is apparently involved in a sex tape scandal of some kind. Why didn’t we ever get that tie-in, Marvel?

Wolverine puts down the newspaper after the vendor calls him “man-wolf”, and we see he’s already changed into a red shirt and fedora for some reason. A guy drives up to him on a motorbike – it’s actually Sam Guthrie, Cannonball – and Wolverine socks him, saying “nothing personal” before driving off on the bike. Do you think he also did that to whoever he got the fedora from? Now that wouldn’t be personal.

Wolverine’s first stop is Westchester, naturally, where he creeps through some begonias like a freak and sniffs the window. Some people would’ve just used google maps, Logan! Why do you always have to be sniffing at windows and the like? He breaks into the house anyway, and finds that a family are living there, in the mansion. Realising there’s no sign of Xavier or the X-Men anywhere in the building, he leaves. Google, Logan!

However! We must first pay attention to one very important detail here. The daughter of the house, who looks about ten, is sleeping with her doll. Nothing unusual there, perhaps – until you notice that the doll is completely naked and has a leg missing. So we’re dealing with a family who can afford a huge great big mansion to live in, but not a four-limbed doll for their only child. America!

At this point Logan finds the first dive he can, having now thankfully lost his fedora, and uses their phone to try and call up Xavier. It’s adorable, really. There’s no sign of Xavier having ever existed, which is weird for reasons we’ll get into later on, so Logan instead turns to a second name. Now, we’re talking about Wolverine here, so who would you think he’d pick as his second point of contact? It’s Nightcrawler, surely. Maybe Storm, or Cyclops, or Kitty. Heck, it might even be Rogue/Jubilee, if none of the others are free. Nope, though! Peter Parker. He calls for Peter Parker next. Unbelievable.

Before he can try any further with Peter, though, he spots a rowdy bunch of mutants attacking a girl – so he marches off to go and get them. This is one of those moments where Bendis blatantly uses a “character moment” to deliberately stall the plot for an extra page or so, and I never know whether to admire him for it or if I find it incredibly irritating.

Day two of being on the run, though, and Logan has returned to New York city, where, he sees the skies are filled with superheroes, mutants, flying people of all kinds. He heads towards Avengers Tower, where the (Atlantean?) secretary totally cold-blocks him from getting any further. Before anything else can happen, he gets a tap on the shoulder from Jessica Drew, who reveals the rest of the SHIELD cleanup team – including Rogue, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Toad. Three of these choices make perfect sense for Logan to pick as his team – I can’t exactly understand the logic behind hiring Toad, though.

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Rogue is totally bringing the sass, which is lovely. She’s there, twirling her guns around, having a grand time, whilst everybody else seems to be trying to avoid looking at Coipel’s attempt at drawing Nightcrawler, who looks pervy as hell. Mystique keeps saying that Wolverine “popped a stitch”, which was a phrase that never caught on beyond this issue, before he decides to just plain bolt for it. He takes some of them out as he pegs it, before jumping out the window and heading for the bike.

Nightcrawler is the only one to give meaningful chase – until he gets three arrows in the back (!) and crashes down. This is somewhat spoiling the final surprise of the issue, really, as the solicitations for issue #3 were all centred around the whole “you won’t believe the last page, it’s going to break the internet!” kind of hype – but basically he gets shot by Hawkeye. Who is alive again!

Wolverine races the bike across a set of cars, which looks great, before spotting that Cloak (another Bendis Favourite™ character – take a shot) is stood right in his path. Logan and the bike get swallowed up, and we end the chase with this brilliant panel of Cloak stood in the middle of the street by himself, calm and silent. I bloody love Cloak.

The bike smashes up and Logan stands up with claws ready to slash up some people – only to find himself face to face with Luke Cage’s street team. Misty Knight, Danny Rand (in a hoodie! hee, adorable), Felicia Hardy, Colleen Wing and, um, some other dude. Not sure who he is. Cage is in charge though, and tells Wolverine to destroy the tracking device. Considering Wolverine managed to go two days before they tracked him down last time, I don’t really think that’s a huge priority right now for him.

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However, Hawkeye has other plans, as the final page sees him in all his purple-suited glory, arrow aimed straight out towards the reader. Hawkeye is back! Did I already say that?

I’d be interested to know just how broken the internet was as a result of this final page – I have to assume people were either expecting Hawkeye to show up (this is an alternate reality after all, and anything goes in there) or somebody else to be taking that spot. Given this is a Wolverine story, more or less, the lack of Jean Grey would possibly count as the biggest surprise going. At any rate, we’ve got flipping Hawkeye back in action! Whatever next?

To be continued!

Want to read along with Shelfdust? Pick up the House of M trade through Amazon by clicking the image below – it helps us out, too!

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