Standard Deviations vol. 7
House of M

Posted by under *like, Comics |

As Marvel’s Avengers versus X-Men event looms on the horizon and Avengers: The Children’s Crusade wrapped up this week, this edition of Standard Deviations takes a look back at the set of variant cover images from 2005’s House of M. The Scarlet Witch’s “no more mutants” spell has been a defining moment for the Marvel Universe and set both of these recent series in motion. While the significance of House of M‘s story is clear, the series was also one of the first high profile examples of the return of variant coves since their hey day in the 1990s speculator market.

Created by the popular combination of writer Brian Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel, House of M dramatically changed the status quo for Marvel’s mutant universe in a way that is still being felt today. The series published according to a typical modern event format with a main series accompanied by related miniseries and tie-ins within ongoing series, it also has the distinction of inspiring at least three miniseries that were published years after the event had wrapped. Its alternate reality angle is a big part of what makes revisiting the series possible akin to Marvel’s Age of Apocalypse and it’s possible we’ll see something similar with DC’s Flashpoint. While opinions tend to be divided on nearly every aspect of the series, I like the way the changes in its wake have driven the course of Marvel’s X-Men line as they function as an endangered species.

House of M #1 saw a typical extended set of variants with three and a “director’s cut,” while the remainder of the series saw one per issue. The gatefold cover to issue one by interior artist Olivier Coipel is the image that I most associate with the series, while Joe Madureira’s wrap-around image featuring Wolverine, Spider-Man and Hulk never made much sense to me as a variant for this series. I recall badly wanting the Quesada variant to issue #1 but I shied away from its $50 price tag when the book first shipped. Three years later I remember passing it up again after finding a $15 copy at Wizard World Philadelphia and thinking it would still come down from there. All can currently be found for $5-10.

  • House of M #1 by Joe Quesada, shipped 1:20
  • House of M #2 by Terry Dodson, shipped 1:19
  • House of M #3 by John Cassaday, shipped 1:18
  • House of M #4 by Brandon Peterson, shipped 1:17
  • House of M #5 by Mike McKone, shipped 1:16
  • House of M #6 by Greg Land, shipped 1:15
  • House of M #7 by Salvador Larocca, shipped 1:14
  • House of M #8 by Chris Bachalo, shipped 1:13

The odd ratios these books shipped in is amusing, and the roster of artists is impressive. John Cassaday’s image of Wolverine leaping from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier on issue three is far and away my favorite here. Jumping from the upper atmosphere was a big thing around this time with Captain America’s leap during Civil War. The edge goes to Cap when sizing them up though, as his was a much more meaningful moment not only in the context of his turning against the establishment, but also in his not having an unbreakable skeleton and the ability to heal from seemingly any wound. Granted his jump didn’t have an epic cover image to go along with it.

I really like the Chris Bachalo cover for issue eight. When the image first started circulating, I recall there was a lot of chatter about this series setting up a collision between the Ultimate and Marvel Universes based on Cap’s costume. While obviously that wasn’t the case, it’s interesting that the same speculation began again today with the release of a teaser image for June’s Spider-Men #1. Looking back, Terry Dodson’s  variant cover for issue two also reminds me of how important Ms. Marvel was becoming at the time. House of M served to launch her second ongoing series which was discussed here on MLD upon its cancellation. I still find it really disappointing that Marvel could not capitalize on the momentum this book and the early issues of her series provided.

The entire set features work by some of the top names in comics and I’m a big fan of these covers. However, the reality is I think I prefer Esad Ribic’s regular cover images in all cases. I could still see myself picking up a Quesada variant at a show for the right price, but the cohesion of Ribic’s covers makes them superior in my eyes. His covers also perfectly encapsulate the high points of each issue, something that can’t often be said of modern comic book covers. Just looking at them immediately puts me back in the world of the Scarlet Witch’s House of M once again.

Looking to the future rather than the past, the cover to Avengers versus X-Men #0 (in stores 3/28/12 with a preview running in a number of books throughout the month) indicates the Scarlet Witch should be a major factor in the upcoming confrontation between Marvel most popular super teams. While The Children’s Crusade was primarily a Young Avengers story, it served to put the Witch back in to play after several years in exile. Her “no more mutants” curse during House of M has driven years worth of X-Men stories in her absence. As a result, every facet of Hope Summers’ life as the first mutant born after “M-day” life is a consequence of that act. I couldn’t’ be happier to see the two of them on that cover and really believe AvX could be deliver a great story with tremendous history behind it. Regardless, it’s sure to have its share of variant covers and you’ll know we’ll be talking about them here.

Read more entries from the Standard Deviations series on MyLatestDistraction.


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