Spider-Man: House of M #1

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)


The X-Men and the Avengers (New and old) went to Genosha to decide the fate of Wanda Maximoff. When they arrived, the world burned white, and reality was reordered. Peter Parker woke up next to Gwen Stacy, and went to check on their son...

Story Details

Peter Parker watches Gwen as she holds their son Ritchie while sleeping in bed. She wakes up, and notices Peter's crying. He tells her that he's alright. In the morning, Peter puts himself through a work-out routine, when Uncle Ben comes to his home, and greets Rhino, Peter's bodyguard. Ben wishes Peter a happy birthday, and then talks to him about Peter's treatment of J. Jonah Jameson, who now works for Peter. Peter shaves his head, and then he and Uncle Ben jump on board a helicopter.

George Stacy is harrassed when going to present at a special ceremony to demonstrate how Peter's new web-shooters could be used to aid police departments and security forces. J. Jonah Jameson, Peter's publicist, gets Stacy through, as Stacy remarks on how racist the mutants are who were handling the attendance for the auditorium.

Meanwhile, Gwen Parker kicks Norman Osborn out of his company's main offices, as Parker's company bought him out, and is preparing to use all the weapons that Osborn developed to reverse engineer them and find out ways to make chemical weapons inert.

As May Parker plays with Ritchie, she sees Peter on TV, and is startled that he shaved his head. Crusher Hogan, whose stage name is the Green Goblin, wrestles and playfights with little Ritchie.

Peter is startled by a surprise birthday party, and then unloads some frustrations against JJJ. George Stacy and Ben Parker seem disappointed in his treatment of Jameson, as Jameson walks by muttering that it has to stop. Peter talks with Gwen, as he tells her that he's got everything that he ever wanted, and could have dreamed of, when Gwen tells him he could have wished for world peace. Peter's offended by her joke, and leaves the party.

The Rhino hits on Mary Jane Watson, a huge movie star who got her start by starring with Peter in one of his movies. Peter overhears their conversation, and is upset because of what it says about him, about him expecting too much out of everyone else, and having a silver spoon in his mouth and getting whatever he wants.

J. Jonah Jameson is getting drunk, ranting to himself about Phony Parker, when the Green Goblin flies into his apartment. Jameson thinks it's Hogan, but the Goblin says he's not Hogan and tells JJJ that he will be used as a tool for ruining Parker's life. Jameson asks when they can start...

General Comments

This is a very engaging first issue for this mini-series, examining Peter Parker's "perfect" life in the House of M. The last time we saw Peter, he woke up next to Gwen Stacy, and went to tend to his son, on the final page of House of M #1. Here, Waid examines what the world he wakes up to is like, how it's different from the normal reality, and how it it is still eerily similar.

This issue does a great job of making this story not just another alternate Spider-Man tale where he lives out a happier life, but also ties it to the House of M series quite well. The racism towards Homo Sapiens is in full force here, and it seems that the thread of racism in this new world will be examined in this storyline, as well as how non-mutant superheroes might pass themselves off as mutants, if possible.

As much as things are different here, just as much is the same. Uncle Ben is alive, Peter is married to Gwen Stacy, and George Stacy never died. Peter Parker has always been a character defined by his bad luck, "the Parker luck," the everyman who consistently has bad things happen to him, which keep him true to himself. Here, Spider-Man has had everything he's ever wanted given to him, so how does Peter Parker change as a result? Waid serves up an interesting character study which draws the reader into this new world, presenting old faces, and showing how things could have changed.

Predictably, Norman Osborn makes his presence known in this book, as does J. Jonah Jameson. One of the more delightful appearances in this book is made by Crusher Hogan, the first opponent Peter ever fought in the regular universe, right after he gained his spider-powers. The idea that Peter did become a famous wrestler is an interesting one, given that that is how he originally started in the first place. Seeing George Stacy and Ben Parker alongside each other was also a fanboy pleasure, as George was always said by Peter to be a man much like Uncle Ben, so seeing the two together was a nice touch.

One of the most interesting elements of the story presented here is the fate of J. Jonah Jameson. After seeing JJJ scream at Peter for 40 years, it's a nice touch to have the same scene play out, but with the roles reversed. Even more interesting is to see that unlike Parker, Jameson is less likely to take the constant abuse so well. Jameson's dislike for Parker, fuelled by Parker's poor treatment of Jameson, appears to be the impetus behind the future events in this mini-series, and Peter deserves to be taken down a notch, because without his guilt and overwelming sense of responsibility, his ego has become problematic and changed his character. There's some nice character work going on here, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Peter next, to make his perfect world crumble all around him.

The art by Larocca is arguably some of his strongest work in quite a while. Spider-Man is rendered extremely well, as is the entire supporting cast. The artwork is extremely appealing, and acts as a great accompaniment to the fun and engaging story being told by Waid.

This mini-series seems to be off to a good start, following up on some of the threads of the House of M mini, while at the same time doing some great character study work on Peter Parker and his supporting cast.

Overall Rating

A very solid issue that sets up Spider-Man's status quo in this reality, as a big star, and it's fascinating to see how it has effected his core character. The supporting cast looks great, thanks to Larroca, and is well characterized by Waid. A pleasure of a book, with a very interesting premise.

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)