Friday, December 19, 2008

What If?: House of M #1

Overall- Even though I cringe at the thought of the House of M storyline(or more specifically, the rancid ending), I just can't resist a new What If? comic book. This year, Marvel is putting out 5(?) new What If? comic books, each with a main story(like the House of M storyline in this one)and a secondary 5 part story involving the Runaways and the Young Avengers. I'm not going to even read the Runaway/Young Avengers story until I have all 5 parts, that way I can enjoy the whole story in one reading. With that said, away we go.

OK, the difference between this comic and the actual events of House of M would be that in this comic, Wanda says "No more powers.", which de-powers everybody on the planet, mutant, super-human or otherwise. Great, so now the playing field has been leveled, right? Now, there are no more super-villains, no more super-heroes, no more super-anything. S.H.I.E.L.D. is happy, figuring hey have no more worries, except for normal everyday crime. Iron Man seems to feel differently, and he tells S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Hill that there is something brewing. Hill tells Stark that he is paranoid and clinging to the past, before throwing him off the helicarrier.

It seems Stark is right(boy, I NEVER thought I'd type those 5 words together), and the Red Skull is still in possession of the Cosmic Cube. Skull unites Hydra, the Hand, and A.I.M., and launches a large scale attack on the Baxter Building, killing the de-powered Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Reed Richards. After killing 3 of the formerly Fantastic Four, Skull retrieves the armor of Dr. Doom, which was stored in one of the trophy rooms in the building.

Now dressed in Doom's armor(except for the helmet, because then how would everyone know it was Red Skull in the armor?)Red Skull strolls out of the Baxter Building, tosses Reed Richards body into the street, and states that to power his Cosmic Cube, he would have to kill all of the people in New York City. Before Skull can make a move, Iron Man, and some other armor-clad heroes arrive on the scene, and attack Skull and his evil horde. The de-powered X-Men grab their Shiar weaponry, and lend a hand at the scene, but as the battle begins to really rage, Red Skull becomes stronger, since every death is powering the Cosmic Cube.

Now gaining in power, Skull begins to actively kill heroes himself, slaughtering the X-Men, as well as most of Stark's Iron Avengers. Before Skull can strike the death blow on Tony Stark, some familiar webbing snares the Cube from Red Skull's hand, and smashes it into the street, destroying its power. From there, we see Peter Parker, dressed in street clothes and his web shooters, standing down the Red Skull and his remaining evil horde. Peter shouts to the people of New York to stop standing around, and defend their city, stating that without the Cosmic Cube, Skull and his army were no different from anybody else.

With that, a gang of angry New Yorkers gather behind Peter, and led by Peter, the gang attacks Skull and his evil army. From here, the story shifts to the future where we see an elderly Peter Parker watching his granddaughter play in a garden. Tony Stark walks over, and the two reminisce about the old days when they had powers. Stark, still paranoid, states that he fears that one day, evil will again rise up, but as Peter watches his granddaughter bound playfully around, assures Tony that there will always be heroes to counter the forces of evil in the world.

You know, I should have liked this comic alot more than I did. The story was good, but there was just something lacking... I can't put my finger on it, but I came away from this comic with the feeling that something was off. Maybe it was the ending or maybe it was the climatic battle, but the end of this comic was just a little bit off for me... I can't really explain my feelings about this book any better than that. The scene where the people of New York joined Peter just didn't seem right to me. I don't know.

The beginning of the comic was really good, and the stuff with Red Skull was great, but I guess with the way Skull was built up throughout the course of this book, he really shouldn't have lost. I think that is what bothered me the most. This comic needed to end on a sour note, as opposed to an inspirational one. I know good is always supposed to overcome evil, but this story begged for the bad guy to win. That's the cool thing about reading a "What If?" comic book, the bad guy CAN win, because in the end, the story impacts nothing. Red Skull's plan was so flawless, and his power was so immense, he really shouldn't have lost. So, as strange as it may seem, the fact that the bad guy didn't win really hurt this comic for me... Go figure. For a score, I'll go with a 7 out of 10. For the most part, I really enjoyed this comic, but if ever a What If? comic begged for a dark ending, it was this one.

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