Saturday, December 11, 2010

This is without even getting into how the Vision's presence could've averted the whole thing.

I was going through my LibraryThing where I came across something that got old irritations going:

Avengers West Coast Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol 2: Darker Than Scarlet (Prelude to House of M)

I normally adore long, unwieldy titles, but this did not bring me joy. No, it did not.

Prelude to House of M. Who do they think they're fooling?

I don't know if that was a fan or if Marvel retitled it (I've heard they did re-release it), but we all know no one planned this far in advance. We know that the whole shitty Darker Than Scarlet storyline was just to get rid of the husband and kids so they could use Wanda as a sexpot again. It was just a really stupid story that left a really stupid open end that Bendis thought he was oh so clever in catching, even though he missed the storyline afterwards where the whole crazy thing was settled and the children were too. Really it wouldn't piss me off so much that he'd used it as an excuse to break up the Avengers if he'd closed up the loophole at the end but no... He had to leave Wanda crazy so he could do House of M.

House of M wasn't a great story idea. It certainly didn't justify leaving the Scarlet Witch in that state. I don't COMPLETELY hate it (I think Pietro and Wanda are the most sympathetic characters in the mess, followed by Magneto and poor innocent Lorna) because it had nice art and issue 7 was heartfelt, but it was really just 5 issues of getting the band together framed by domestic violence and the X-men being hypocrites. This was never anything more substantial than a way to off the mutants and undo the really awesome stuff Grant Morrison did with mutant culture. It also provided a convenient excuse to completely divorce the X-men from the high ground by having them throw aside everything they've ever fought by suggesting they kill a mutant--who hasn't done anything to THEM--for being too powerful. Honestly, one of the reasons I fucking hate House of M is it has made most of the X-men entirely unreadable to me. (I still give Cyclops a pass for a lot of horrible shit because he was the only dude on that side to say "Wait.." but nobody listens to Cyclops when he doesn't want to murder people) They're a bunch of fucking hypocrites, and will be as long as no one points out that they pretty much caused M-Day by reacting to Wanda exactly as nonpowered humans react to them. There wasn't a single mutant at that fucking meeeting that hasn't lost complete control of their powers at some point in their careers. Professor Xavier ALSO took out the Avengers when he did, and no one--not even Pietro who was for having the government put him under guard--suggested he get executed.

I honestly can sympathize with the Avengers in that series. None of them except Wolverine pushed to kill her. They didn't want Magneto to take her away, they had to bargain to try and get her back. No one could really trust that Pietro wasn't going to freak out the second they tried to explain this, so of course they didn't tell him. I can get through House of M and still like the Avengers, and I even suspect this was on purpose. After all, didn't things end for the Avengers with getting Hawkeye back to life? They got a little reward it seems.

Of course, their actions, going along with the X-men to do a full assault on Magneto and distract him while Dr. Strange snuck in to see Wanda (because... this wouldn't make anyone tighten security around the most important person in the universe to the perpetrator/the only family member the deluded and ridiculously powerful party guests would believe couldn't defend herself?) were pretty stupid, but I think the Avengers overall handled it better. No one wanted to kill her and the Wasp wanted to ask Wanda for her input.

But oh god, the X-men. Every time I look at it I can't help but think they deserved to get slammed on for taking that position in the beginning. Before the beginning, even. Professor Xavier was entrusted to treat a woman who was said to be losing touch with reality. When confronted with memories of her giving birth--an event that even after Darker than Scarlet did happen was still something that happened OUTSIDE of her head--he decides to tell her that the children never existed and to forget that memory. Which is bullshit. The children did exist, they just were a trick from an external force. They weren't a delusion only Wanda saw. They weren't a delusion she caused everyone else to see by telepathy. They were a fucking trick by a fucking demon. All the events happened. The children weren't a result of her breakdown, her breakdown was a result of the children turning out to be a big trick. And as the trigger for her original breakdown was that Agatha Harkness fucked with her memory (and to Byrne's credit, the entire WCA team thought that was stupid and her father and brother knew nothing about it until after she freaked out), naturally the solution to a relapse is to fuck with her memory again. Professor Xavier can only have made her WORSE with his "therapy", but he gets none of the blame for House of M nor for supporting the option of killing her. ("I don't know what else to do, Scott" my ass.) He really should have been the one saying "Now, Emma" in the damned X-meetings, but instead he was breaking the idea gently to Magneto.

Hell, Emma actually prevented the peaceful resolution of House of M by stopping them from recruiting Captain America. Despite the fact that he's probably the only person in the group who could have talked down Wanda (and, after the reveal, Pietro), Emma vetoed him because he was too old. So in the big fight scene, when they find out who's idea this all is and they need someone with a clear head around to take control, Steve Rogers is not there. Instead we have a bunch of idiots who let the person who knows the least about any of the players--someone those jackasses really should have been looking after in case she might decide to get hurt or do something really stupid--decides to activate Magneto, the biggest most violent temper on the board. All change of a peaceful resolution disappears, and the mutants of the universe get fucked over because they didn't have Jean Grey at the meeting telling them they were a bunch of assholes for coming up with this.

That said, I did notice that Dr. Doom came out okay during the whole mess. So maybe they did mean to fix Wanda and blame Doom for both her breakdown and Pietro's really bad idea (Seriously, he was helping her focus her powers and unless he was under the same mindfuck I don't see how they'll explain how he let Reed Richards and Sue Storm are dead while Dr. Doom is still in power slip by), or maybe it was a really fucking big oversight and Heinberg caught it. It doesn't solve my problem with X-men, but it does make me optimistic for the Maximoff twins.


  1. In defense of Emma, I feel like we should take a look at the history of the X-Men and reality warping mutants:

    1. The first time they faced such a thing was in the form of Proteus, a psychologically stunted and isolated kid who'd spent most of his life in solitary confinement. Rather than try talking him down or using telepathy, they had Colossus - who was arguably one of the nicest mutants on the team back then - solve the problem by killing him with two metal fists through his chest.

    2. When Proteus returned, an admittedly Shadow King-influenced Moira MacTaggert talked them (Proteus was comprised of two unhappy young mutant boys at that point) into committing suicide.

    3. The last reality-warping mutant the X-Men dealt with before House of M was Legion - one mutant whose meddling caused the Age of Apocalypse. How was this problem solved? You guessed it - they sent Bishop back in time to murder Legion and fix it all.

    Not really condoning any of the X-Men rushing to bloodshed - especially in poor Wanda's case - but you must admit that it's a sadly consistent character choice for the team as a whole.

  2. I wasn't surprised to see Emma or Wolverine advocating killing Wanda, honestly. That sort of hypocrisy is pretty well established in both characters.

    But having Professor Xavier be so wishy-washy was a really bizarre decision that did kind of bother me.

    I'm the first to argue that Xavier's a total asshole, but he's also kind of egotistically judgmental/moralistic. He ought to have been siding with Scott and planning new telepathic blocks or something.

  3. I can give you #1... provided that Proteus was drugged, locked away, and not threatening a soul at the time like Wanda was instead of being an immediate danger.

    But #2 was Shadow-King. And #3 was the Age of Apocalypse X-men: A team run by MAGNETO in a world where Professor X died before meeting anyone but him.

    Aside from that, it's still fucking hypocritical, especially after Xavier fucked her up more... Especially given that Emma is an ex-villain (and also very unwise of her, since she's a high level telepath, Jeannie's dead, and the Phoenix is out there--is that really a smart precedent to set?) and Emma STILL fucked up by vetoing Cap. The team got backhanded by fate, and they deserved it.

  4. Old Cap was fucking awesome anyway. :-P

  5. You'll get zero argument from me that the X-Men are hypocrites. My Sister and I continually joke about them "fighting for peace" and deciding that the best way to ensure peaceful human/mutant relations is to isolate all mutants in a compound and teach them to fight. Xavierdickery has remained an unfortunate constant.

    And I've never liked Bendis' portrayal of Emma Frost, frankly. He seems to just jump to "bitchy" as a shorthand for the character. If anyone were to encourage a powerful unstable mutant ally rather than demand her head, I'd think it would have been Emma, given how many dead mutant kids she'd endured at that point.

    In a related subject, have you been keeping up with "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" at all?

  6. House of M was the beginning of the end for me and those crazy mixed-up Mutants. I'm afraid that Civil War was the final nail in the coffin.

    Aren't they all on an island killing people now anyways?

  7. SallyP: Yep, and it's actually pretty awesome. :-)

  8. Also, House Of M started at the same time the Beast had his hands on a vaccine that permanently stripped mutant powers (see Whedon's early ASTONISHING X-MEN run). So in HoM they're agonizing at X-Mansion over whether to Kill Wanda when they had the solution a room or two away the whole time. Pietro would have been much less upset about a depowered Wanda than a dead one.

    Bendis's Wanda is still a huge sore spot with me. Flushing Busiek's, Gruenwald's, and Byrne's work down the toilet by having Doc Strange essentially say "Oh,chaos magic? Complete bullshit!" was a hack move all too typical in modern comics.

  9. Judging by House of M itself, yeah Pietro would have been much less upset and Wanda would have been happy with it.

    But man, HoM is not NEARLY as fucked up as Disassembled when Dr. Strange makes that ridiculous speech. I got SO angry during it, he even seemed to imply Chthon didn't exist and the other "Wanda's possessed" stories were just her cracking. But Slott brought in the Darkhold and Chthon, Heinberg (and Bendis, actually?) is treating Billy as a real magic user, PAD said that Pietro had a sliver of chaos magic because he was her brother. I think either that will be soft-retconned out, turn out to have been Not-Dr-Strange or they'll just say he was talking out of his ass and didn't understand Chthon's area of magic. Yes, he's the expert, but the expert doesn't necessarily know EVERYTHING.

  10. And you know, I keep turning pages in various X-books and finding people with devices attached to them which turn off their powers. And no one had one of those lying around? Slap it around her neck, disaster averted.