Normally, I am not a big fan of big event tie-in issues. In the past, big event tie-in mini-series usually are nothing more than cheap cash grabs. However, Secret Wars has been a pleasant surprise. I have enjoyed so many of the Secret Wars tie-in mini-series. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed so many different tie-in titles to a big event. I have to give Marvel credit with their handling of the Secret Wars tie-in issues. These have offered fun reads that are quite entertaining. Also, these tie-in issues do an excellent job fleshing out the smaller details and ancillary plot lines that are not being covered by the main Secret Wars title itself. I am confident that Secret Wars House of M #2 is going to provide for another enjoyable read. Let’s hit this review.
Words: Dennis Hopeless & Cullen Bunn
Art: Marco Failla
Colors: Matt Wilson
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Magneto in his private study playing chess with himself. In the shadows is a creature that Magneto has in chains and held captive. Magneto refers to this mysterious character as a “dragon.” (Hmm, a Dragon? Not too many options for Dragons in the Marvel Universe. There is Dragon Man. But, he is not a heavy hitter that Magneto would be worried about. I’m hoping it is Fin Fang Foom. Another awesome Kirby creation.) Magneto laments that he has vanquished all of his worthy rivals and adversaries. That he has no one left to challenge his mind. So, he sits here and plays chess against himself to try to keep his mind sharp. The dragon in the shadows tells Magneto to let him go and he will war with Magneto. That he will eat Magneto’s family.
We hop to a hidden laboratory where Hawkeye, Black Cat and Misty Knight are hiding out. The lab is run by a cyborg girl named Deathlocket. (Adorable name.) Deathlocket is repairing Misty Knight’s cybernetic arm. Deathlocket fills the three heroes in on her back story.
Deathlocket’s father just got captured by Magneto and sent to a Human Reeducation Center. That her father was a great scientist who designed the Deathlok program. The Deathlok program was designed to make use of all the dead human soldiers that were piling up during the war between the mutants and the humans. During the war, Magneto torched Deathlocket’s father’s lab. Deathlocket’s mother and brother died in the fire. Deathlocket was badly injured and her father made her cybernetic body parts in order to save her. Unfortunately, Magneto won the war before the Deathlok program could be fully finished. We see a bunch of Deathloks in storage in the lab. During this sad story, Misty Knight acts like an uncaring bitch. (Let’s hope she gets killed at some point in the story. Talk about being cold!)
Deathlocket says that she knows about Luke Cage’s plan to assassinate Magneto. She says that she is ready to help the three heroes carry out that mission. Hawkeye replies that Luke’s plan was for an army to carry it out. That there are just three of them now. That Magneto and his band of mutants would swat them down like gnats.
Deathlocket replies that they have a world-class cat burglar in Black Cat. They have Misty who Deathlocket just upgraded her arm with a Sentinel grade plasma cannon. And Hawkeye who never misses. Deathlocket then presents a bullet that her father created. The bullet is metal free and it attacks the nervous system and neutralize mutant powers. Deathlocket says the bullet will fit perfectly on the end of one of Hawkeye’s arrows. But, Hawkeye will get just one shot. Hawkeye replies “One is all I’ll need.”
Misty says that Hawkeye is crazy to try to carry out this plan. That Magneto’s castle is guarded by an army and his family. Black Cat stares at the Deathloks and asks if they work. Deathlocket says that they can power up and perform simple tasks. But, even if they could do more what could metal cybernetic soldiers do against Magneto? Black Cat chuckles that the Deathloks would get chumped. Hawkeye says that it looks like Black Cat has a plan.
We cut to Speed and Wiccan in the streets of Genosha. They decide to have some more fun by pissing off their grandfather, Magneto. A group of SHIELD agents are after Speed and Wiccan. Speed says that there is no way the agents will be allowed to touch the royal grandsons. Wiccan says that they are the only people who can defy Magneto. Speed replies which is what makes all of this so fun. Wiccan and Speed then attack and beat up the SHIELD agents.
Suddenly, SHIELD’s elite Red Guard appears on the scene. The Red Guard consists of Rogue, Nightcrawler and Mystique and are led by Wolverine. Speed and Wiccan trash talk Wolverine. Wolverine pops his claws on Wiccan. Then, Scarlet Witch arrives on the scene and asks Wolverine if he really just threatened her sons. Wolverine is shocked and starts to make an excuse. Scarlet Witch tells Wolverine to stand down. Scarlet Witch blasts the other members of the Red Guard.
Wolverine says that he respect the Crown, but that Speed and Wiccan blasted a hole in the side of the Human Reeducation Center. This time Wolverine is taking Speed and Wiccan in to custody. Scarlet Witch screams for Wolverine to take his hands off her son. Scarlet Witch then starts to disassemble Wolverine’s body. Sebastian Shaw, the Director of SHIELD, arrives with more SHIELD agents. Shaw tells Scarlet Witch that SHIELD would never harm the royal grandsons. But, Speed and Wiccan have broken several laws today. Shaw asks that Scarlet Witch let them take the boys to the Castle and let Magneto deal with them.
Scarlet Witch blasts Shaw and the other SHIELD agents. Scarlet Witch says nobody will be taking her boys anywhere. Scarlet Witch then flies off with Wiccan and Speed. Shaw then agrees with Scarlet Witch and apologizes for his mistake. A SHIELD agent asks Shaw what they should do next. Shaw replies that they bow and smile and thank the princess for reminding them that the children of Magnus can do as they please.
We slide over to the coast of Genosha. Quicksilver and Namor fly out of the ocean. Quicksilver complains how the organic masks that let him breathe under water is like snagging an octopus. Namor asks if Quicksilver ever stops complaining. Quicksilver replies “Not usually. No.” (Ha! Perfect line!) Namor tells Quicksilver to stop his complaint and life his chin up and smile. That Namor is about to make Quicksilver a King. We see a massive army of Atlantean soldiers swimming to the surface of the water.
We cut to Castle Magnus. We see a bunch of Deathlok’s flying toward the castle walls. The guards are stunned and incredulously say that zombie cyborgs on jetpacks are attacking. Another guard makes fun of the guard’s description. The guard says maybe they are robo-corpses. The guards decide that that description is no better. The guard wonder if the humans are really serious with these things. That this is a pathetic excuse for an attack. The Deathloks can do little other than fly to the castle wall and stand there and then get shot. Polaris watches the “attack” and comments that this is just too easy.
We shift to Hawkeye, Black Cat and Misty sneaking into the west side of Castle Magnus while all the guards are blasting the Deathloks over on the east side of the castle. Black Cat calls the Deathloks “Level one video game zombies.” They are easy to kill and will get the attention of all the bored guards looking to have some fun. This will provide a necessary distraction for them to sneak into the castle from the other side.
We zip to Magneto’s private study. Magneto hears the sounds of battle between his guards and the Deathloks. Suddenly, Hawkeye, Black Cat and Misty enter the study. Misty blasts Magneto with her arm cannon. Magneto scoffs at the three heroes. Magneto picks Misty up via his magnetism and destroys her cybernetic arm. Magneto then uses the chain attacked to the dragon and smashes it into Black Cat and takes her out. Magneto tells Hawkeye that the three of them are hopelessly outclassed by Magneto.
Hawkeye says that he expected Magneto to be an arrogant creep and dismiss them. Hawkeye fires the arrow with the special bullet on it. Magneto is stunned that he cannot control the arrow. The arrow nails Magneto in the shoulder and then zaps his body. Magneto is groggy and then realizes that he has no mutant powers. Hawkeye smirks that he just leveled the playing field. Hawkeye asks if Magneto can guess what Hawkeye is going to do next.
Just before Hawkeye can shoot Magneto with an arrow, suddenly, the chained up dragon steps out of the shadows. It is Fin Fang Foom! (Yeah!! Love this character!) Fin Fang Foom says that it has been far too long that he has had a proper snack. Our heroes wonder how they didn’t notice the giant dragon hiding in the shadows. Misty exclaims that it is not even that big of a room! (Ha! Great reaction.) Foom grabs Magneto and tosses him into the wall. Foom yells out “Checkmate, Magnus. Down goes the King.” Hawkeye asks if he is concussed or did the dragon make a chess joke. (Ha! Another good line!)
Suddenly, Polaris enters the study and to tell Magneto to tell him about the attack on the castle. She is stunned to see Fin Fang Foom and our heroes in Magneto’s study. Polaris rushes to Magneto’s side. Magneto rips the arrow out of his shoulder. Magneto tells Polaris that he no longer has his mutant powers. We see Fin Fang Foom grab Hawkeye. Just as Fin Fang Foom is about to pop Hawkeye in his mouth a massive wave of water crashes through the study.
We cut to outside of Castle Magnus and see a massive tidal wave crashing against the castle. We see Namor and Quicksilver leading the Atlantean army into battle against Magneto’s guards. Namor says “Imperious Rex.” Quicksilver responds “You see? Just like that. Packs more of a punch when you don’t scream it.” End of issue.
The Good: Secret Wars House of M #2 is a fun read! Hopeless and Bunn deliver an enjoyable classic super hero action/adventure story. This is the kind of issue that quickly pulls the reader into the story, takes them on a thrill ride and then leaves them with a smile on their face all excited and eager for the next issue. This issue has it all. Action, adventure, drama, intrigue and humor. And it was all wrapped up and delivered in a package that was suitable for an adult just as much as it is for a kid. Perfect.
Now, do not be confused, by no means is Secret Wars House of M #2 dumbed down at all. This is an issue written for adults but one that clearly has an eye on children, too. I would have eagerly devoured and enjoyed a comic like this when I was a kid. I love seeing Marvel making an effort to make sure that the next generation of readers is firmly in their grasp by making their comics approachable and accessible to readers of all ages.
From a technical standpoint, Hopeless and Bunn construct a well crafted issue. Secret Wars House of M #2 is perfectly paced. The story moves at an urgent pace but it never felt rushed. The issue has a good flow. The scenes transition nicely between each other as each scene built off the previous one. At no point did this issue ever drag or lose the reader’s attention.
The plotting was impressive. Secret Wars House of M #2 is meticulously constructed. The writers clearly took the time to pay attention to the details in juggling the various plot lines running through this issue. The plot line involving Magneto, the plot line involving our three heroes plotting Magneto’s demise and the plot line involving Namor and Quicksilver were perfectly managed through out the issue. The three plot lines complimented each other and Hopeless and Bunn were able to bring the three disparate plot lines together in such an enjoyable fashion with the riveting final scene. And what a great hook ending, too! Magneto de-powered. Fin Fang Foom on the loose. Namor and Quicksilver launching a full-scale attack. Damn! That is exactly how you leave a reader out of breath and wanting more!
Secret Wars House of M #2 is definitely a read that had a ton of substance for the reader to sink their teeth into. This issue is packed full of content. There is a large cast of characters, multiple interesting plot lines and a ton of plot progression in this issue. Hopeless and Bunn deliver an issue that covers plenty of ground. A lot happens in just this one issue. It is great when you read a comic book and feel like you would have really missed out on a lot if you had skipped the issue. If you hate decompressed comic books then you will love Secret Wars House of M #2! This issue is the cure to the decompression woes that afflict many readers.
Of course, Hopeless and Bunn most definitely do not skimp on the action in this issue. Secret Wars House of M #2 boasts plenty of action. This is a lively read and the action in the scene with Speed and Wiccan and the scene at Castle Magnus makes sure that there is never a dull moment in this issue. There is a sense of excitement in every scene.
I dig the setting for this story. Hopeless and Bunn have created a world that is rich with different factions and drama befitting of any story that centers on a royal family and their aristocratic court. Hopeless and Bunn deliver a Marvel Super Hero themed Game of Thrones type story with all the various factions and machinations that go on in this issue. This issue is helped out by the fact that Hopeless and Bunn get to play with a fascinating cast of characters.
This leads me to the next point. The writers craft some excellent dialogue. Each of the characters have well-developed external voices. Even the minor characters that get little panel time like Sebastian Shaw and Wolverine. Even with only a few lines and limited panel time, the writers are able to give these characters distinct external voices. That is impressive and shows considerable skill and great effort on part of the writers. Often, minor characters who have limited lines possess simple generic voices. The writers also display a great sense of humor. There are numerous funny lines in this issue that get the reader chuckling. The humor is well placed and never overwhelms the story or seems forced.
There is also plenty of excellent character work in this issue. Almost all of the characters are well fleshed out. Nearly all of the characters are nicely developed and act like well-rounded and real people. To me, the stars of this issue would be Hawkeye, Magneto, Fin Fang Goom and Deathlocket. These four characters received the most character work. However, as I said before, even characters with limited panel time like Namor, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch came across with their own well-developed personalities. Best of all, all the hard work on crafting the personalties and good dialogue paid off with some excellent chemistry between all the characters in this issue.
Failla delivers some solid artwork. Secret Wars House of M #2 was certainly nothing spectacular. However, the artwork did the job and never got in the way of the story. The strength of Failla’s art would be the fantastic facial expressions that he gives his characters. Failla is able to inject so much emotion into the story and add an extra layer of depth in bringing to life Hopeless and Bunn’s script.
The Bad: Not all the characters received impressive character work. Black Cat came across as a rather generic character. Misty Knight is oddly unlikable in the scene in Deathlocket’s lab. I suspect that part of this is due to a disconnect between the writers’ script and the artist. Failla draws Misty in a pose looking away from Deathlocket and focusing on her nails with a bored and uncaring look on her face while Deathlocket talks about her family being killed and her father being imprisoned. I am not sure that is how the writers wanted Misty to be portrayed in this scene.
While I like Failla’s artwork there were moments where his art looked a bit rushed and sloppy. And there were other moments where his panels lacked detail.
Overall: If you hate decompressed comic books then you will love Secret Wars House of M #2! This issue is the cure to your decompression blues. This issue packs in a ton of content and delivers a satisfying read that places an emphasis on fun and adventure. This is definitely a title that is worth checking out. You will get your money’s worth with this issue.