There is nothing that can set the Marvel Comics market on fire like a true alternative crossover, but as famous X men melee is supreme; 1995s Apocalypse Age, or 2005 rollick into The house of M? These two massive odysseys are remarkable for completely turning their respective timelines upside down and converting the entire Marvel universe into a completely separate continuity for months at a time. The first was thanks to the 90s X-title barn at the forefront of such coryphaeus as Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid and Fabien Nicieza, the second was conceived by the Marvel phenomenon Brian Michael Bendis. But which is better?
Both have their highlights and flaws that serve as good examples of the industry’s respective strengths and weaknesses of the time they were produced. In other words, there is a certain demonstration of the spirit of the times in each of them. It is important to note the relative novelty of such events throughout the company’s alternative universe before AoA, with crossovers that mainly focus on threats in the universe and rarely involve more than a few creative teams (although the 1988s War of evolution and Hell events were past examples and also involved the X-titles.) Similarly, while past storylines may have encountered a dystopian future or two, both AoA and HoM are remarkable for their total re-creation of Marvel’s history and innovative visions of a world of superheroes, especially the roles of Marvel’s mutants in that reality.
To understand the effect of AoA, it is important to understand the context of how it came out. That Apocalypse Age was published in the late Marvel’s heyday, when the publisher was still running high from the comic book boom of the early ’90s. After a series of hit-or-miss crossover events, including the short-but-sweet 1993 Fatal attractions and the lukewarmly received 1995 Phalanx Covenant story lines, Marvel’s creative decided that a full makeover could just be the next big hit. So they put their X-titles talent pool, at the time arguably the best collection of comic talent in the industry, to work completely on redesigning Marvel’s world as an apocalyptic dark fantasy.
That Apocalypse Age told the story of a world where the blue-skinned Darwinist Apocalypse completely conquered North America after the early death of Charles Xaviers, resulting in a drastically different world in which Magneto served as the surprisingly faithful leader of a new and different group of X men. . Featuring the unique stylized art of Joe Madureira, Ian Churchill, and brothers Andy and Adam Kubert, the story arc is remarkable for its almost unrecognizable renditions of several X-characters, including a villainous Cyclops, a straight-hero version of Quicksilver, and a terrifyingly dark Beast . Thanks to a first-class effort from the artists designing the characters, the impact of AoA can be periodically seen in the reintroduction of elements of characters in the crossover to their counterparts in the main continuity.
There are a number of incredibly gripping aspects of the overall story that make it so enduring, including the dynamic resurrection of various characters that end up taking related star turns, such as Blink and Morph. Perhaps the best part of Apocalypse Age was the way the smaller stories ended up delivering devastating shocking moments for fans ‘favorite characters, including the beloved Colossus’ abandonment of all his students in Next generation to die in Sugar Man’s labor camp at the hands of his experiments and sacrifice their entire lives for his sister Illyanas. It is best remembered as a series of smaller stories that end up counting more than the sum of their parts.
The house of M
The context of The house of M‘s release is completely different than AoA, in it HoM is about the story of former Marvel writer tycoon Brian Michael Bendis. In 2005, Bendis was at the height of his influence at the publishing house after writing its bestsellers Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers among other. Marvel had serious creative issues due to its extensive continuity on several fronts, and Bendis was called in to resolve this.
A problem began when the resident New X men Author Grant Morrison ended his controversial title race by killing Magneto in the midst of a power-mad frenzy. In a desire to rehabilitate the character, the Marvel editorial staff transformed this Magneto into a cheater. This led to a host of continuity issues which to this day have not been satisfactorily explained in canon.
The second problem arose from Brian Michael Bendis’ own run Avengers, which ended with the original Avengers organization being totally destroyed in the crossover story arc Avengers: Dismbled. The story was notable for introducing a traumatized Wanda Maximoff, Scarlet Witch, as the ultimate villain who brought decades of subplots to expression that suggest her mental instability. In a strange fusion of story elements, Disassembled ends up with Magneto revealing that he’s alive after New X-Men, and took charge of caring for his then-cannon daughter, Wanda.
In summary, The house of M is a vision of a cosmopolitan superhero utopia, drawn with photorealistic smoothness by Oliver Copiel in what is without a doubt one of the finest assignments in any modern superhero cartoon. This new world is created when Scarlet Witch uses her distorting powers to create a world where everyone is “happy”. In the limited main series (supplemented by a complete selection of binders), Wolverine wakes up as the only hero who remembers the real world, and with the help of a new character named Layla Miller gathers the other heroes to strike down. Magneto who rules as king in a mutant paradise. In the end, the plot is revealed as the work of Wanda’s brother Quicksilver, who convinced Wanda to change reality to save her from possible euthanasia at the hands of Charles Xavier and the Earth’s heroes. The story ends with Wanda resetting reality while disabling most of Earth’s mutants. This can be seen as her attempt to mitigate the damage caused by superpowered beings like herself.
The majority of HoM titles do not deal with this last battle, but instead follow the different stories of Earth’s heroes and their radically different lives under Magneto’s utopia. A special stand-out story would be House of M: Spider-Man by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer and Salvador Larroca, who followed an indefatigable Peter Parker posing as a mutant to avoid anti-human discrimination. The story is best described as a powerful single narrative with a lot of interesting sequels.
There is a lot to be said for each of them in terms of profits: House of M’s cinematic narrative style is a slimmer look, however AoA in the end have more heart, as the ending sees the remaining heroes in an impossible battle against the Apocalypse, they have no hope of surviving (until they did so in the sequel to the miniseries). Oddly enough, both alternatives share the similarity with Charles Xavier, who does not exist, in some ways presenting mirrors to each other. The 90s comic book style was often rude and sensational, but the 00’s style, especially under Bendis, seemed to lack the smaller moments that allowed the characters some respite.
Ultimately, it’s a big task to juggle the number of characters needed for a large company’s crossover-like AoA and HoM, not to mention the knowledge of continuity required to provide the justice of the alternative. Bendis may have had a good concept, but there is a critique that his characters sometimes do not feel like themselves, especially his leading man Wolverine. In the end is Apocalypse Age team wins over The house of M as the stronger X men crossover event, thanks to the editorial staff’s superior knowledge of the characters.
Next: Can Marvel ever fix Scarlet Witch’s mutant genocide?
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