House of M #4 Review

Reviewer : Tim Byrne
Story Title : House of M #4

Writer : Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler : Olivier Coipel
Inker : Tim Townsend / Rick Magyar
Colorist : Frank D’Armata
Letterer : Chris Eliopoulos
Editor : Tom Brevoort
Publisher : Marvel Comics

So, this is the fourth issue, hmmmmm?

You’d never guess it from all the fluffing around that this mini-series has done.

In case you don’t know from the *gasp* cover, the big shocker at the end of issue #3 was that Hawkeye exists in this alternate universe. I really don’t understand why we are meant to be shocked. UNCLE BEN exists in this universe for crying out loud. Why is it so shocking that Hawkeye is walking around?

And did we really have to pick Wolverine as the central character of the last couple of issues? Overexposed, much?

I shouldn’t speak too much of the editorial choices involved, but rather give you an idea of this issue, and whether it should be bought.

Well, the plot at least advances in this issue. And given the extensive re-caps on the first page, it almost gives those who plowed through the first three issues a feeling of being cheated. Wolverine convinces (way too easily in my book) the other ‘rebels’ of the whole ‘alternate universe’ thing and they go attempt to change the world ‘back’.

One of the problems with this story is one of the main assumptions made by Bendis, and that is that this alternate world is undesirable. I mean, sure, there’s bigotry and some over-protective police and so forth, but all those things are present in ‘our’ world too. I suppose the fact that ‘people’ are the oppressed minority should be justification enough for us to hope against hope that once again the foul-mouthed Canadian can save the day.

Oh yes, the characater of Layle is introduced, and she may as well have the words ‘deus ex machina’ engraved on her forehead for the obviousness of her subsequent role. The whole idea of these two characters realising that their lives are ‘wrong’ is a lazy story-telling device that just reeks of over-simplification.

Having vented that spleen, the writing as a collection of scenes is not horrible. Emma Frost is well-depicted, and the limited ruthlessness of the rebels comes across well.

The ‘snapshot’ images of Xavier will obviously have a later significance, but for the time being they are simply boring and muddled.

The art, at least, is well done, with a splash of the Sentinel looking suitably intimidating. Having said that, the ‘stunned’ effect on Layla while talking about what ‘it’ is looks like something fresh out of an Archie comic. Subtle? not much.

I guess I’m in for the remainder, but DC’s company wide cross-over is getting a heck of a lot more of my money at present.