We all want something, whether it’s to be rich or to be in love. But what price would you be willing to pay to get what you’ve always wanted? This is a question that’s brought up frequently in House of M. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, House of M centres on the Scarlet Witch’s mental breakdown and her reality warping abilities. The X-Men and Avengers are thrown into a world where their fondest desires have come true. Friendships are tested, families are torn apart and three iconic words are spoken.
The story begins with Magneto and Professor Xavier trying to find a way to cure Wanda of her madness. Meanwhile, the X-Men meet the Avengers to decide her fate. Opinions are divided, with some mutants suggesting she be killed and the Avengers disagreeing. Eventually, both teams go to Genosha to extract Wanda, only to find she’s missing.
“I can’t help it, Charles. I put my children through hell because of what I believe. I destroyed whatever hope they ever had at a decent life…because of what I believe. My war against the humans. And the truth is – I waged my war against the humans and I lost. So, now I’ve lost the war and I’ve lost my children.” – Magneto
A bright light takes over and reality is altered. Cyclops and Emma Frost are married. Spider-Man is married to Gwen Stacey. Magneto and his family rule the world and mutants are the dominant species. The only person who remembers how the world should be is Wolverine and he starts gathering the team back together with the help of a young mutant called Layla Miller.
After everyone’s memories have been restored, they launch an attack on the House of M. The Avengers and X-Men believe that Magneto manipulated his daughter into altering reality so he could get what he always wanted. But it’s revealed that Quicksilver told his sister to use her powers so she could make everyone happy and they could live as a real family.
When Magneto realises the truth, he pummels his son to death with large pieces of metal. In her anguish, Wanda decimates the mutant population by taking away their powers and the world returns to normal.
“Look what you’ve done to us, daddy. Pietro was right – you – you ruined us before we even had a chance. Why would you treat your own children this way? Babies. Why? Because you actually think you’re better than everyone else. The arrogance of you. You think because we’re mutants we’re better than them. That we deserve to rule. That’s what you wanted and I gave it to you. But look what it becomes. Even when you get what you want, you’re still this horrible man. We’re not the next step. We’re not gods. We’re freaks! Look at us, daddy! We’re freaks! Mutants! You chose this over us and you ruined us! Daddy…no more mutants.” – Scarlet Witch
House of M focuses on the dysfunctional relationship between Magneto and his children. It presents him as a flawed, broken father who knows he’s destroyed the twins’ chance for a happy life. Wanda’s instability is coupled with her desire to make him happy. Pietro is the most broken of all as he desperately tries to protect his sister at any cost. The way he justifies himself is relatable and selfish. Bendis has a strong grasp of all three characters, painting a tragic portrait of a family whose sins have caught up with them.
Oliver Coipel’s art is beautiful and he makes every page come to life. Every character is detailed, from the regal clothing that Magneto wears, to the look of disgust on Wolverine’s face every time he thinks of the Scarlet Witch. It’s like watching an epic movie unfold before your eyes.
House of M might feature the X-Men and the Avengers, but it’s very much a mutant story. Themes of mental illness, prejudice and family are explored. It’s certainly one of the greatest X-Men stories of all time. You can purchase it on Amazon.