Friday, August 10, 2012
Wait, wait, Spider-man is a mutant? Well, now that I think about it, he’s been treated that way in the comics before – Professor X wanted to train him to use his powers as I recall, and it was generally accepted that his powers were a form of mutation – so, ok, I can go along with this. Peter Parker’s status in the House of M world means that he’s one of the biggest celebrities ever, he’s starring in his own movies (and does all his own stunts), has huge amounts of money, takes care of his family – which of course includes his Uncle Ben, Aunt May, wife Gwen, son and father-in-law, employs numerous people and is generally seen as a great guy. Except by J. Jonah Jameson, who is Peter’s Public Relations manager – though in reality he’s really his whipping boy. Peter debases and verbally abuses Jameson at every opportunity, treating him as less than human, but paying him ungodly amounts of money in order to keep him around for more humiliation.
Because, hey, that seems just like something Peter Parker would do as retribution for the years Jameson spent slandering Spider-man. When I say it makes Peter look like a complete dick, I’m not using forceful enough language and let’s leave it at that – and that’s who we’re rooting for! And what would an alternate universe be without Uncle Ben being alive again? Somehow Peter still became the hero Spider-man and was still being harassed by the Daily Bugle, despite the fact that he was never driven to superheroics by the death of his uncle. I can actually handle Gwen’s presence, frankly this might be the first time this idea has been explored in an alternate universe (where Peter and Gwen get married) and it was probably the strongest of the plotlines, not to mention Mary Jane’s flirting with Peter (she co-stars in his movies, playing as Gwen) at a time when Peter was still married to Mary Jane in the main Marvel universe. That all made for an interesting dynamic.
Unfortunately, not a whole lot of time is spent on that. Peter starts realizing that people actually do think he’s a bit of a dick, as they speak about him behind his back – and his old foe the Green Goblin has returned and given Jameson the power to take down Peter once and for all, a journal that reveals that Peter got his powers from a spider-bite and not from a mutation.
Wait, what? So now he’s not really a mutant? Ok and apparently all of that is enough to have his whole life come crashing down around him, but not before it’s revealed that Peter did this to himself – he is the one behind the mask of the Green Goblin. Don’t ask why, why are you even asking for sense out of this story at this point. There’s another interesting point where it’s revealed that this journal is all about Pete’s life in the main Marvel universe, where Gwen had died and so had Ben, but even after Gwen discovers these things (and must realize that her husband is completely out of his mind) at least she still wants to be with him and wants to help him get better. That’s better than good old Uncle Ben, who when the going gets rough and things continue to spiral out of control and the base-line humans turn against Peter, his advice to Peter is to commit suicide.
Yes folks, suicide is the solution to Peter Parker’s problems. So Spider-man hangs himself, and the picture makes the front page of the paper – somehow resolving all the mutant/human relations. Except that Peter actually isn’t dead (because hey, suicide is ok as long as it’s faked) and he warns Magneto that he’ll only stay dead if the humans are treated better by the mutants. Of course, because that’s what this whole story was about – actually no, no it wasn’t. But at least Peter and his family get to live happily ever after in some backwoods part of the country where no one can find them for the rest of their lives. Until House of M ends and suddenly Peter is having his meltdown over – what – the loss of his wife Gwen and son, that other world where things were so much better for him, where his psyche was a broken mess. Or perhaps, as I like to think, he was having a meltdown over the character assassination he had just suffered at the hands of Mark Waid. I actually had to go back and look at who wrote this mess, and was surprised to see Waid – he’s done some great work for DC. Perhaps thats where he needs to stay.
Stay far, far away from House of M: Spider-Man. I’m a big fan of the old “What if?” comic, and even I had trouble swallowing this one. I suppose the art looked really great, so it’s got that in its favor. Otherwise, I can’t recommend it at all.
Posted by Jim Haley at 8/10/2012