Six months after the devastating events of Avengers Disassembled, the Avengers had disbanded, and Wanda Maximoff, A.K.A. the Scarlet Witch, was kept in a trance-like state in Genosha, which was the mutant homeland before getting completely obliterated by Sentinels some time ago. Both Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Magneto were doing all in their power to try and keep Wanda sedated for fear her mind was completely lost and if she regained consciousness she could erase all life on Earth without realizing it.
Professor X met with both the X-Men and New Avengers to try and decide what they should do with Wanda. Dr. Strange and Professor X explained the trance-like state Wanda was in would only last for so long, and a more permanent solution was needed. Should they kill her, or figure something else out? It’s a horrible decision that no one wanted to deal with, but the people of Earth needed protection. Just hearing your childhood heroes tackle a subject this mature was extremely jarring, and shows how far Marvel wanted to take this story.
Upon arriving at Genosha, the large cast of characters made their way to Wanda, only to discover her and Magneto were missing. Suddenly a brilliant flash of white light encompassed everyone. The world as they knew it, disappeared. When each character awoke in this new world, everything was different. It was as if their very dreams had become reality. Peter Parker was living with Gwen Stacy and had a child, Uncle Ben had never died, Ms. Marvel was the equivalent of Superman, loved by everyone and more importantly mutants were the dominant species on the Earth. Everyone who took part in the raid had no recollection of their previous lives, except for Wolverine.
Wolverine eventually reconnects with Luke Cage and meets a young girl named Layla Miller, who just so happens to have a mutant power that can awaken the memories of those around her. After a short period of time Wolverine awakens Emma Frost, Cyclopes, Peter Parker, Dr. Strange, and several other key characters for an onslaught against the House of Magnus. Magneto and his family live on the richest island in the world, Genosha, and are treated like the lords of the planet.
The big shock comes near the end of the series when it’s revealed that Wanda created this perfect world because her brother, Pietro, didn’t want her to die at the hands of her former friends. Originally Wolverine and the others believed it was Magneto who was behind all of this because it felt like it was his dream come true. Truth be told, he had no idea what was going on the whole time, much like everyone else. In the end Dr. Strange shows Wanda the huge battle, taking place on Genosha. She realizes that her father chose his mutant cause over raising his own children, and that even when he’s given everything he wants; he still finds a way to screw it all up. She’s disgusted with him and utters the words “no more mutants.” At that moment another flash of white light appears and the world is as it was before this madness began, with one major exception.
The consequences of Wanda’s action forever changed the Marvel Universe, until this very day. The first issue of House of M was released in June 2005, and here we are in May 2012 and we’re still dealing with the problems created in this storyline. Here’s a recap of what happened when the heroes returned to their regular world.
Hawkeye is alive again, because Wanda always had a very special place in her heart for him. The others that died during Avengers Disassembled remain dead. Millions of mutants around the globe no longer have their powers, including, at least for a short period of time, Magneto. The estimated number of mutants left on Earth is somewhere in the hundreds, although the X-Men typically say 198 are left. Wolverine now has his full memory for the very first time. Only a few characters actually remember the House of M incident, and sadly Peter Parker is one of them. Professor X, Scarlet Witch and Pietro all go temporarily missing, and the biggest fallout from M-day is that the Skrulls are easily able to infiltrate Earth’s defenses, as you’ll see when I cover Secret Invasion.
House of M is easily one of the best X-Men events written in the last decade and certainly one fans looking to get into Marvel comics should certainly check out. There are some extremely powerful moments in this series, particularly involving Peter Parker in this different world. One cannot feel somewhat sympathetic towards Wanda because she knows not what she does. In essence, she’s trying to give everyone what they want. Marvel’s mutant race would go through one hurdle after another after M-day because anti-mutant propaganda reached an all time high. Regular people saw this as a sign from god that mutants were not the future, but rather an abomination.
For the X-Men, their mission used to be to protect and aid a world that feared and hated them, but their newfound focus was on survival. It was at this point in time where Cyclopes replaced Professor X’s vision of the X-Men into something far more serious. Their new mission statement was to protect mutants everywhere, not to let harm befall even the most insignificant mutant, and above all else, to find a way to keep the mutant species going.
After the House of M event, Marvel broke the series off into several books, creating what was referred to as Decimation. The main objective of this story arc was to explain which characters had kept their powers and which lost them. Over the next couple of years fans would be at opposite ends of the spectrum for and against the depowering of the mutants. Eventually some would acquire their powers back from magic, technology or some other means, but for the most part mutants as a whole became an endangered species. The next huge storyline involving Marvel’s mutants would begin in October 2007, called Messiah Complex. This is the next event I’ll tackle and it deals with the birth of the very first mutant since M-day. It is a massive tale, over 350 pages long and spanning all the X-books Marvel had in print in 2007 (Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Men). As you can imagine, the significance of a new mutant being born would not only be important to the X-Men, but also to those who want mutants to be nothing more than a distant memory.