Tuesday, 2 April 2013

House of M: Uncanny X-Men Graphic Novel - A Tale of Two Artists!

Newsarama recently ran an article stating that the House of M graphic novel was one of the most important graphic novels in modern comic book history. Not the exact words they used, but the piece went on to say that it was a must read for everyone, and the starting point for the recent AvX Marvel event. If I had to choose a starting point, then I would say it was the Avengers Disassembled story, or if you want to go back even further, the whole reason for the Scarlet Witch's madness was the loss of her children, or perceived children!

The article got me thinking about the 'House of M', or more to the point the Uncanny X-Men graphic novel, which contained issues #462-465, written by Chris Claremont. The first two issues were drawn by Alan Davis, the last two by Chris Bachalo.

This graphic novel really is a tale of two artists, and how each of them portray the same characters, but have a totally different feel. The graphic novel itself could also be re-titled to 'House of M: Captain Britain', because all four issues deal with the fallout of the Scarlet Witch's actions, which created the world of the 'House of M', from the viewpoint of Captain Britain and his connection to Otherworld, and all.

For those very few that don't know the story, before the Scarlet Witch uttered the words 'No more mutants', she created a world where mutants were the rulers, Magneto was the ultimate ruler of the world, and even Brian Braddock was given the title of 'Monarch' of England, it's king if you like, with Meggan as his queen.

I won't spend too much time dwelling on the actual story itself, it basically goes something like this... The Scarlet Witch changes reality, all things that were, in every reality are coming to an end. Roma gives Brian Braddock 48 hours to repair the breach in the 'Causality', or Saturnyne will wipe out his reality, because it is the cause of so many problems, on a regular basis. With a minute to spare the breach is repaired, but only by Meggan sacrificing herself to do so.

The story itself is a lot more involved than that, but that's the rough outline. Apart from Captain Britain, Meggan, Roma and Saturnyne you have Psylocke (Brian's Sister), and Rachel Summers also heavily involved in this story.

Both Alan Davis and Chris Bachalo are fantastic artists, and both have very distinctive styles of art, and this is very apparent in the telling of this story. Chris Claremont spins a mighty fine yarn, and his connection to Captain Britain in the past is obvious in the way he portrays the good Captain, and his supporting cast so well.

What made this little run for me was Alan Davis' art in the first two issues, not just the clean precision he applies to every drawing, it's the detail he adds into the background. I found myself reading each panel, then spending time looking at each panel drawn by Davis, because of the inclusion of so much detail. What was so good about the detail, was the nod to characters created by himself, and Claremont in other Captain Britain collaborations, such as Exalibur.

The panel above is a good example of one of many drawn by Davis featuring previous characters used. This is near the start of the story when reality is starting to unravel, and Captain Britain is falling through all the different planes of existence. Great to see Cerise on the left, and Kylun on the right have a nod of remembrance, and there are so many like this, like the troll from the 'Cross Time Caper', Mad Jim Jaspers, The Captain Britain Corps, Jamie Braddock to name but a few.

Don't get me wrong Chris Bachalo's art is fantastic, and the detail is wonderful, but he did not have the knowledge of the history of each of the characters like Davis and Claremont. Nobody can draw Captain Britain and Meggan like Alan Davis! I've said it before and I'll say it many times more no doubt, and putting Bachalo's Captain next to Davis', there really is no comparison.

It's been years since I last read this, and it was nice to read it again, and noticed more this time round than I did the first time I read it. Following on from this graphic novel, and the whole 'House of M' thing, 'New Excalibur was created, and at the time really didn't put 2 and 2 together. In this graphic novel you see the coming together of the team that would become 'New Excalibur'. Juggernaut, Nocturne, and Pete Wisdom all fight alongside Cap, Meggan, Psylocke and Marvel Girl against Magneto's enforcer and a whole host of Sentinels, whilst trying to heal the rift.

New Excalibur consisted of Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Juggernaut, Sage, Dazzler and Nocturne, which means the only characters missing from the House of M: Uncanny X-Men GN were Dazzler and Sage. The New Excalibur run was after the Scarlet Witch uttered 'No More Mutants'.

If you've got this book, or the four comics, and you are a fan of Captain Britain, I recommend you go and read them again, slowly, to appreciate the full beauty of this little collection, and how connected it was to Captain Britain, more-so than the X-Men.

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