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Greetings. I am the Moderator, the omniscient and lonely voice of reason haunting the halls of @$$Hole HQ. Sometimes a comic comes along that has been so hyped that no one reviewer at AICN Comics could possibly do it justice. In those cases, the @$$holes gather together from the four corners of the globe to discuss the comics highs, its lows, and what it means to the whole darn comic book industry in a Roundtable Review.


Buzz Maverik
Humphrey Lee
Vroom Socko
Jon Quixote
Ambush Bug
Prof. Challenger
Sleazy G
Dave Farabee

For this Roundtable, the Holes set their sights on the latest crossover event book from Marvel Comics, HOUSE OF M. Since last year’s controversial “Avengers Disassembled” arc, writer Brian Michael Bendis and the House of Ideas have hyped up this book touting that it will shake the foundations of the Marvel Universe and leave it forever changed. In HOUSE OF M, Bendis brings together the Avengers and the X-Men to battle a threat that no one hero can face alone. Be forewarned, SPOILERS abound in these Roundtables. Let’s see what the guys have to say. Okay @$$Holes, now that you’ve read HOUSE OF M, what are your initial thoughts, guys?





MODERATOR: Wait a minute… you guys have nothing to say about this book?


SLEAZY G: Wellll…let’s see.


Just then, a flaming bird flies through the window and drops off a note in the middle of the table.

BUZZ MAVERIK: Where’s my shotgun? Them’s good eatin’.

VROOM SOCKO: No wait! It’s a note from @$$Hole DAVE FARABEE. It reads – wait a freakin’ minnit…was that bird on fire? Ah never mind. It reads:

DAVE F.: Sorry, guys. I’m not going to be able to make it to this Roundtable Review, but I will be sending messages via my Cormorants periodically. I think it's gonna be a funny roundtable. Good luck finding material to talk about! This is Bendis-pacing in the worst way and far, far from a slam-bang opening. It's almost just a prelude.

VROOM: I'm forced to sort of agree. I don't know that this issue is Roundtableable. I mean, I could review this book, but there's really nothing to DEBATE. We don't even get to the whole "Age of Apocalypse/Zero Hour" knockoff portion of the story here. Perhaps it might be a good idea to do the Roundtable when the second issue comes out. Perhaps it might have been a better idea if this book had been four double-sized issues published monthly instead of eight regular issues published every other week.

BUZZ: Hell, Vroom, that's what makes this Roundtableable. Big comic. Touted for about a year. Supposed to set the Marvel Universe on its' ear. And something is put out that people are hard pressed to have anything to talk about.

Whose fault is that? Let's see. The writer. Somebody who could have directed the efforts of the writer. A lot of somebodies who would praise 22 blank pages punctuated only by word balloons full of the A-B-Cs as long as it bore the name of the writer.

I fucking love Marvel comics! I love comics period. I love good storytelling. So, when I read this big first issue...I have something to say here.

SLEAZY: Perhaps it was just a bad idea.

BUZZ: I dunno. The thing is, this Roundtable SHOULDN'T be a bad idea. The first issue of a colossal event comic SHOULD be a no-brainer with lots to write about. Love it or hate it, think of how much anyone could have said about issue one of CRISIS ON INIFINITE EARTHS. Or KINGDOM COME. The fact that the biggest mainstream comic publisher gives the key to the city to a guy who has a great talent for making indie crime comics but little for much else...I'd say that's something to talk about.

The hard part is going to be for whoever has to edit this Roundtable. Because, like Bendis, we will need editing.

BUG: Hey, no one edits the @$$Holes!

SLEAZY: Ah, you misunderstand. I meant having Bendis telling this particular story was a bad idea from jump street and never should have been approved, but Joey Q just won't tell the guy no. Ever. To anything.

MODERATOR: Okay, you guys are getting ahead of yourselves. What did you think about HOUSE OF M?

PROF: Crap! Crap! CrappityCrapCrapCrap!

BUZZ: Immediately after the book, with the ending smack square in my mind like a dum dum bullet, I thought, "Wow!" and "Cool!" The possibilities! Bendis and Copiel will really be able to let their imaginations run wild.

Then, I remembered that these weren't all new characters and that anyone accepting money for using them now has the responsibility to deal with their long histories.

PROF: Did I say Crap?

VROOM: I may have been the most vocal online entity in my dislike of “Avengers Disassembled.” I hated the sloppy logic, the contrived ending, the clichéd deaths (Hawkeye lives, motherfucker!), but I was personally reassured by no less than Bendis himself that I would get a blast out of this series. And I may, I don't know. All I know is, the first issue of this series exemplifies both the best and worst of Bendis' writing.

This issue features plenty of fun dialog and magnificent characterization. I especially enjoyed the moment between Quicksilver and Magneto. That's the Bendis I love and respect. Not to mention some magnificent artwork from Oliver Coipel. Just how does Bendis manage to work with so many amazing artists, anyway?

PROF: Crapola!

VROOM: The problem is, this 22 page comic is really little more than a 10 page prologue to an original graphic novel in disguise. What happens here? The characters sit around a table talking about the Scarlet Witch, then the white light from DC's ZERO HOUR shows up, leaving behind... what? The Age of Apocalypse? 1602? I couldn't tell you, because that's where this book ends. It's kind of hard to really pass a qualified judgment on a story when you haven't actually read any of it yet.

BUZZ: I want to see where this is going. The possibilities are intriguing. But since we're going to be told how mature and intelligent this all is, I wish it could be done in a smarter way.

PROF: Steaming pile o' dog crap!

BUG: Initial thoughts? Sure. Here goes with the random non sequiturs ...

Why do these super heroes even wear functional battle costumes anymore since all they do is stand around and talk like they've watched too many David Mamet films?

Why is Luke Cage wearing a McDonalds bag on his head?

Why does Colossus look like the mustache riding champion at the gay rodeo?

Why include Sentry (a character who has yet to join the team in the regular NEW AVENGERS book) when he doesn't even have any lines in this book?

Why did everyone end their sentences in --- ?

I really wanted to go into this thing fresh. I wanted to look at this thing with a fair and unbiased set of peepers, disregarding my dislike for his past work. I repeated to myself before cracking open the cover, "This is not a Bendis book, it's a Marvel event book. This is not a Bendis book. It's a Marvel event book."

And guess what? Looked at as a Bendis book or a Marvel event book, this book reeks any way you slice it.

HUMPH: I agree with Buzz on this so far. One issue in and it is moving along, though its repetitious nature at times can make a case for bringing in the "d" word... oh no, decompression in a Bendis comic, that never happens... oh wait, it does, and it happens everywhere now too. Guess we're all gonna have to deal that trend because it's here to bloody stay.

VROOM: What really irks me about the whole "sitting around and talking" bit is that much of it is not only pointless, but ridiculous. Everyone is talking about having to kill Scarlet Witch in order to stop her, but nobody poses the one question that would solve everything in an instant. Of course they don't, if these characters were actually looking at all their options, there'd be no miniseries. I mean, why should they use that metric ton of prevention (just kill her) when, according to Whedon’s ASTONISHING X-MEN, there's an ounce of Cure just chilling in McCoy's lab?

PROF: Did I say crap yet?

SLEAZY: So you liked it then?

PROF: Grrrr.

SLEAZY: It was pretty much exactly what I expected. Anybody who's surprised by Bendis' (lack of) pacing at this point is just being silly. Anybody who's surprised at the way that the characterization doesn't match up with any other title the characters appear in is just being silly. Anybody wondering why Bendis can spend an entire issue of DAREDEVIL on an absolute nobody we don't give a shit about but only one single panel on Xavier and the X-Men getting past problems that have plagued the team for years is just being silly. Anybody questioning why Wolverine gets to suggest that Wanda should be put down despite the hundreds of deaths (including a fellow X-Man) he's responsible for this year is just being silly. Anybody wondering how Copiel had the time for this 8-part crossover when he still hasn't finished the behind-schedule 5-part SECRET WAR crossover with Bendis that's stretched over more than a year is just being silly. And, most importantly, anybody suggesting a guy I can only assume was Luke Cage looks good in a doo rag of the Japanese flag is just being silly. This series still has the same potential I always thought it did: to be less bad than the recent return of the "Age Of Apocalypse."


PROF: Oh, and one more thing....CRAP! Do any of you @$$HOLES realize we all just paid $2.99 + tax for an entire comic that was like a PARODY of a Bendis comic? Absolutely nothing nothing nothing happened except a bunch of garishly garbed muscle morons walking, standing around, and talking, emoting, talking, emoting. Good Jeebuz Cripes!

HUMPH: No matter what this is going to leave a bitter taste in someone's mouth. Even if this mini turns out good, which I think it'll be above average judging from this issue, you've got all the "ramifications" throughout the tie-ins/crossovers/whatever the hell is going on and I can feel that most of them were forced. This thing came out of a story arc that has already displeased so many, and it's just going to all come to a head soon. I really for one would like to know how far this all got blown out of proportion by Marvel in an attempt to match INFINITE CRISIS. Was this mini supposed to be the only follow up? Did they have this whole thing planned from the beginning? I'm thinking it all lies somewhere in the middle and in the end it's gonna be a bit of a FUBAR.

BUG: The thing that honks me off is that it is a direct knockoff of IDENTITY CRISIS, where the heroes are forced to make a decision that goes against their very nature. Namely, they know the Scarlet Witch is out of control and debate and debate and debate about whether or not to put her down for good. The difference is that in IDENTITY CRISIS, there was an inner conflict (the moral dilemma about mind-wiping criminals) and an outer conflict (the hunt for Sue Dibny's killer). Meltzer interweaved the action and the moral conflict to make you feel like you got both in every issue of that series. Bendis isn't able to do that. It's all inner conflicted inaction as the singularly minded heroes hem and haw about what to do for pages and finally we end with a cliffhanger that leaves you going "meh."

PROF: ID CRISIS had a writer who, as much as I'm loathe to admit it, was able to give the story a very wordy narration and still make that first issue a stand-out issue; strong characterization, foreshadowing, and interesting things actually happened. HOUSE OF M was also incredibly wordy but had no story to speak of. It was all setup, setup, and more setup. I call it self-indulgent crap. And, nothing interesting happened unless you call seeing Peter Parker waking up in the "new" present married to either Gwen Stacy or Liz Allen something interesting. I call it amateurish nonsense.

BUG: I don't mind the copycatting though. Marvel's been doing that for years from their cheap IDENTITY CRISIS sham IDENTITY DISK to the formation of the ICON and MAX lines to compete with VERTIGO to this. It's just that, while DC does it first and better, Marvel does it loudest and brags the most.

HUMPH: That seems to be the nature of Marvel comics these days anyway, that of going full bore action one issue, and then talking heads the next. And it's not necessarily a bad thing, you'll never see me berate dialogue in a comic, but outside of Brubaker's Cap run right now, and PAD on Hulk it seems finding a balance between action and dialogue within a single issue is becoming a lost art for the company.

JQ: Dan Slott's work. Sean McKeever's work. Zeb Wells's work. Whedon on ASTONISHING X-MEN. Love him or hate him, JMS on Amazing Spider-Man. Etc.

BUG: Yeah, there are quite a few writers out there that ARE doing things right at Marvel, but apart from Whedon and JMS, they aren't getting the work or the praise for doing it that way. They're on smaller titles like SHE-HULK, GLA, MARY JANE, and offbeat SPIDER-MAN minis. If there's a house style at the House of Ideas, it sure isn't these guys. These guys are the exceptions to the rule.

JQ: But action and dialogue are *not* mutually exclusive elements anyway. That's a fallacy that burns my biscuits, just like the action & characterization split. Oh, this is a talking issue. This is a punching issue. It's a poor writer that needs to compartmentalize in such a way, and readers and critics need to recognize it. There is no "balance" between the two elements. They are all essential to each other. And action without characterization, dialogue without action are hollow, worthless exercises.

HUMPH: Well, balance was probably a bad choice of words on my part. I should have said integration... it’s what I really meant anyway. What I'm saying is that now we're mostly seeing stuff like this book and the Ultimates where you're getting an issue that's almost a twenty minute read because of all the talking heads, and then the next issue is a four minute breeze thru because it was all smashing and little or no context.

JQ: I tend to find the talking heads issues to be the quickest reads, as opposed to issues where stuff is actually going on that needs to be paid attention to. One of the things that I find characterizes Bendis and his contemporaries is that there's a lot of spelling everything out for us - every feeling, nuance, or urge gets a couple pages devoted to walking us through it. Even a mindless fight scene - which can be every bit as hollow and inane as twelve pages of table sitting and blah blah - at least seems to be aware that it's taking place in a visual medium. Four pages of Bendis chatter rarely amounts to more than a couple dozen lines of dialogue.

BUZZ: That's why movies like THE INCREDIBLES and SPIDER-MAN and cartoons like FAIRLY ODD PARENTS and JIMMY NEUTRON and DANNY PHANTOM do superheroes better than comics. Honestly, if most fans would pull back from comics for awhile then return, I think they'd be able to see clearly how dull, dead, unfun, and geezer-like most comic writing is these days.

BUG: I think we're going to get some flack for being geezers when we compare the good old days of Marvel comics to the ones of today, but it's simply true. In those days, the mix of action, characterization, and dialog were tops. You got everything that happened in this issue, maybe a battle or two, and probably a preview as to what to expect from the spin-offs. Back then, you never put down a book and felt "meh" about it. That feeling of "meh" is running rampant in comics these days, and this is the comic book reviewer’s worst enemy. We’re supposed to have an opinion about the comic we just read. When I put a comic down and don't know how a feel about it because there isn't really enough there to form an opinion, I get frustrated all to hell.

BUZZ: If you look at the comic book audience – young males – they're getting more sedentary and isolated. Like we're doing right now, sitting in front of a computer instead of actually out doing things. It's kind of sad that guys aren't even able to relate to action in their fantasies any more.

HUMPH: The main thing in this book that made the moral dilemma fall flat to me a bit is just how they kind of dismiss the alternatives. The sequence where Emma asks Xavier if he could help Wanda, and he replies with "If I could, I wouldn't be here having this conversation." That's all fine and dandy, but using two panels to sum up "Well, I've tried a bunch of shite and it's not working" makes the drama and tension surrounding their debate seem more forced. Though I do think that the following sequence of Quicksilver's desperate pleading with Magneto salvages it somewhat...

BUG: Let me say that I did like certain parts of this book. The part where Quicksilver goes off and screams at supersonic speeds and can't be heard was damn cool. I liked the interaction between Falcon, Wonder Man, and Ms. Marvel as they walked into Stark Towers. I even liked the talk between Xavier and Magneto as he wipes the blood from his nose. And I love it that Carol Danvers is going back to the Ms. Marvel name because Warbird is a horrible moniker.

It's these little tidbits that make this issue bearable. Bendis is good at this. He throws out these little details that make these characters more than just masks. I can appreciate that. The problem is that he does this in such an extreme way that the masks aren't even important anymore except that it is the only vibrant and kinetic part of this book. It's all character moments and dialog. You've got to think bigger in comics and Bendis has shown me nothing to prove that he can do that.

BUZZ: Right. This is supposed to be realism. But I always have to ask, if people want reality, why are they reading comics?

BUG: Bendis is a good writer of prose and dialog, but you have to be more than that in comics. You have to consider that this is a visual medium and you can't have a bunch of guys in gaudy costumes sitting around and talking all of the time. It looks ridiculous. My problem with Bendis is that he can't see past his word processor as to how this is going to look visually. It’s the same way in most of his books. The art and words are segregated so extremely.

BUZZ: Bendis is a good writer who needs to be edited. The main problem is that clearly no one at Marvel has the stones to say, "Tighten it up." Also, Bendis would be fine if he'd throw away McKee and pick up Marshall McCluhan.

PROF: Don't know who "McKee" is, but McCluhan can't write worth crap and NOBODY should pick him up.

SLEAZY: Robert McKee is the guy who wrote the book STORY about screenplay writing. Bendis uses it as a reference all the time. He's also the basis for the guy in the movie ADAPTATION who conducted the screenwriting seminar (which he does all the time to substantial profit). He's got a pretty strict breakdown of what format and style all screenplays should be written in.

The problem w/Bendis is he misses two crucial facts: first, comics aren't movies, and second, even if you wanted to write comics following McKee's formula, his formula would have to be applied to *each issue*, not to a six-part (or longer) story. Each issue should stand on its own, with an A and B plot, character arc, beginning, middle, and end. If he applied these rules to *each issue* of HOUSE OF M, instead of to an 8-part mini with literally 42 connected issues, it would have half a chance of working. Which it doesn't right now.

BUZZ: Marvel is big on their comics being like movies. But which movies are they looking at? Michael Bay's? Probably. They need to look at the work of James Cameron or George Miller or even Spielberg on INDIANA JONES to see how story and character can be progressed through action. Bug or Sleazy or somebody (I can't tell you guys apart) said that Bendis doesn't know that comics aren't movies. No, he doesn't know that comics aren't plays...on a limited stage, with live people in the cast occupying a venue with the audience. That makes for a big difference. At best, some of these comics come across as independent films with limited budgets and shooting time. Ridiculous when anything an artist can draw can be in a comic.

SLEAZY: It was me! It was me! You can tell us apart because I can spell. And I'm not bald.

I see what you're saying, though. Since it's 85% talk, it could be done with a few set changes in a theater no problem. Which, by the way, is just fine. I like talk--perhaps too much. I like plays. I like movies. I like plays that become movies. But dammit, save that shit for your own comic that isn't about superheroes doing amazing things that make you wish you could do something that cool. Publish it through Oni or Vertigo or Kitchen Sink, and I can totally get behind it. If you want to do some of that stuff to flesh out the four-color characters, by all means, do so — they need all the help and added depth they can get. It just shouldn't be at the expense of the only things that make them interesting.

HUMPH: To me it seems like a lack of focus. Sometimes I think the big writers these days are taking on way too much and somewhere quality falters. Here I think we're seeing Bendis having good ideas for character moments, especially the ones you mentioned, but then we got "Oh hell, I need to wrap this issue up because I have to get New Avengers in."

BUZZ: I agree to an extent. Part of the problem is that guys who are prolific by today's standards, like Bendis, write full scripts. Stan Lee never wrote a full script in his life. He wrote Marvel style and probably didn't know what the hell each comic would be about until the artist delivered the pencils. That's how he was able to write up to 35 comics a month.

BUG: I don't see Bendis as being overstretched as far as working on multiple titles. His stories are very singular in focus. Bendis' stories ARE overstretched. An idea to him is stretched out into a four to six issue arc, be it worthy of four to six issues or not.

BUZZ: Aw, c'mon. The issue had a beginning, middle and ending. Things happened. It moved. The Marvel heroes had to meet to decide to do something about Wanda. That was important.

PROF: It's only important because Marvel decided they wanted a huge honkin' crossover monster and Bendis thought "You know? I DO have to use the bathroom again. Might as well go crap on Wanda some more."

BUZZ: Granted, their meeting got repetitive and could have been trimmed. Similarly, Quicksilver's scene with Magneto, the best in the book, soon started repeating itself. Finally, the scene of wandering through Genosha ... also started going around in circles.

PROF: The main problem is that clearly no one at Marvel has the stones to say, "Bendis, this ain't the frickin' GILMORE GIRLS, it's superhero comics, get these characters DOING something!"

SLEAZY: I *wish* this stuff was as good as "Gilmore Girls".

MODERATOR: Okay, we've talked a lot about the writing, but what about the art? How'd this comic look?

VROOM: I've got to say, Bendis has a knack for working with the best damn artists around. Maleev, Bagley, Gaydos, Oeming... each of these guys is uniquely suited to the book Bendis is making with them. And Coipel is certainly an ideal artist for an action-packed superhero explosion featuring the X-Men and Avengers.

BUG: Now, if only that’s what we got with this issue.

PROF: Magneto looked like a husky, barefoot, sweat-pantsed ex-con Wal-Mart greeter. Not very imposing.

There were a lot of talking heads and few of them looked good to me. Hairstyles were particularly awful. It seems like this latest batch of new artists have a common problem, nobody knows how to draw hair so everybody looks like they have spikey crap flopping around their faces instead of hair. Somebody get these kids' heads out of their dang manga books and look at the real world sometimes to see how hair really looks on human beings. Can't even tell if the guy's a good storyteller because nothing but people walking and talking happened. If they were going to make this a comic all about faces and body language, they should've hired Adam Hughes to do it.

The cover was awful washed out watercolor. If I hadn't felt like I needed to pick this comic up to be able to comment on, it would not have even garnered a "thumb-through" based on the cover.

Just then, another flaming bird flies in through the window with another note.

JQ: It’s another note from Dave.

HUMPH: That poor bird.

BUG: Has that guy ever heard of a cell phone?

DAVE FARABEE: Okay, Prof, I think you're overboard here. Olivier Coipel's a talented guy, best known for art on THE AVENGERS during runs by Geoff Johns and Chuck Austen and LEGION (just prior to the current reboot). I'd say his visuals fall somewhere between '70s/'80s-style superhero art and the qualities of those few Image artists who actually evolved (Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell). It's a crisp look with detail and slight exaggeration that even call to mind Michael Golden's work (though it ain't there just yet). I can see the beef with the talking heads, but that I attribute to Bendis's layouts. Bendis might not be credited as such, but I've yet to read a comic from him that isn't laid out in his own very specific, very controlled style (dating back to GOLDFISH and JINX).

HUMPH: How the hell did he know what we were talking about?

SLEAZY: Dave’s powers of observation know no limits.

DAVE: On a few specifics: I thought Magneto looked fine. His beefiness was a little odd, but seemingly just another way to depict the strong physicality of the character - not so different from Cockrum drawing him built like a bodybuilder back in the day. As for him not looking imposing, I think that was part of the point. Like it or not, Magneto's supposed to be a broken man right now, not just because of the Scarlet Witch kookiness but because he's been hangin' with Xavier on Genosha, land of the ultimate mutant massacre.

Hairstyles "awful"? Not at all. Coipel's got similar quirks of depicting hair to, say, Walt Simonson, and a quick gander at the splash page of heroes showcases a wide variety of styles. Wasp's got her bob, Warbird's sporting the modern equivalent of her old "Farrah," Wonder Man's got the slicked-back look Byrne gave him...pretty distinct I think. Worst I see are touches of shorthand to his renderings of hair, but not so's I'm bothered. As for Adam Hughes, I actually find his glossy renderings of hair almost distracting - like every character just stepped out of a Clairol ad.

In general I was pretty happy with the art. 'Bout the only problem with it is that Coipel just didn't have much to work with, and okay, his expressions are a little bland and repetitive. All told, though, he's an artist I'd be happy to see on just about any book with lots of costumed heroes.

BUZZ: Coipel is good at buildings, cities, rubble and single dramatic shots.

PROF: Okay, I’ll admit the artist drew some darn good destroyed buildings.

BUZZ: For instance, the scene with Wanda in the bed, drawn from above, as Pietro approaches her is well done. (Unfortunately, that page is ruined because they are going for the concept of a camera MOVING in and PULLING back. No cameras here. This isn't a storyboard, which provides a blueprint for something that takes seconds. This is a page in a comic book which makes it a significant portion of the whole story and nothing that was revealed there needed a whole page).

PROF: I just think his unfortunate lackluster ability to draw the human figure and face made that scene stand out to me more like an amateur's attempt at drama. A lot of the shadowing and wrinkles looked more to me like the classic amateur's trick of overshadowing to cover up lapses in proper anatomical rendering.

BUZZ: What Coipel is terrible at is drawing people. They all look squatty and kind of fat and constipated. Everyone looks puffy, especially around the face. The close ups of Emma Frost make her look like the best looking real estate agent in the office who has gone soft from too many margaritas and too much sitting.

HUMPH: Good but not great, that's how I'd describe the interiors. The attention to detail in the backgrounds, especially the ruins of Genosha, is really quite amazing. But I'm in agreement with mostly everyone here when I say the way Coipel draws his superheroes is off. I think the females in all of this come out rather unscathed as far as their builds and proportions, though their facial features all looking way too alike when not in a close up panel. But they don't have that "bloated" look as Buzz put it for their bodies like the majority of the males do. Between that and chins of almost Bart Sears proportions they, for the majority, look rather silly. But to be honest, it seems that body type only shows up in the splash pages. Looking through the book again, if there's a page that has five or so panels on it, then the smaller drawing space seemed to have forced him back to drawing everyone "normally."

BUZZ: The best thing about the art is the color by Frank D'Armata. He really captures the mood here. It's too bad the mood is dour and pouty, but it does fit what's going on in the story.

MODERATOR: Okay, guys we’re running out of time. Any last words on HOUSE OF M?

PROF: I find it astounding how badly conceived this whole thing turned out to be. Especially coming off DC's recent ID CRISIS miniseries also dealing with a "crisis" of conscience among the bulk of the superheroes, it makes this series appear to be little more than a Marvel knock-off attempt at the same -- of course, minus the rape but including the former sane female character now utterly insane and dangerous. No way will I be reading the rest of this crossover. And any series that I already read that might find themselves crossing over with M will lose my $$$ for that month.

SLEAZY: It was exactly what I expected: a mediocre story buried under a years' worth of pointless hype.

I can't speak for the rest of you, but by golly I just can't wait to find out who the Claremontian ultra-powered young mutant girl you've never heard of that will change the face of the Marvel U. forever really isread the exciting (but totally rushed) one-issue finale in Spring of '07!”

Shit, I dunno. Maybe I'm being a jerk here. Maybe I'm judging the whole series too roughly based on the first issue. Then again, if there's nothing in the first issue to make me think otherwise, what does that say about the first issue?

BUZZ: I'd like to say that before Mr. Bendis says otherwise himself, we're not stating these opinions to get attention for ourselves. We don't get paid by the hit here. It is possible to have negative or (Gawd forbid) mixed impressions of a Bendis comic just because...well, you feel it deserves them.

Overall, it'd say that both the writing and the art are fine for what they are but the comic as a whole is hampered by so many of Bendis' self imposed limitations, which are fueled by the low expectations of his fans. We've come to expect too little. No one is pushing this guy. We are but he won't listen to us.

VROOM: I dunno. I really can't bring myself to recommend this book either way until I actually get to the actual story. I have Bendis' personal guarantee, so I'll definitely be buying up through issue #4. Maybe then I'll have an idea of what this book is really about.

BUG: I didn’t hate HOUSE OF M as much as most. Maybe it’s because it’s what I have come to expect from Bendis. There were enough interesting moments to get me through the issue without tearing it to shreds in frustration. But that doesn’t mean I’d recommend it. All of the stuff that irks me about Bendis’ writing is still there. The guy is utterly stuck in his ways. I have to commend him on his hard-headedness and dedication to tell one type of story over and over and over again. It’s all overwritten inaction and overlong extrapolation. He’s got moxy, I’ll give the guy that, but it still doesn’t make for a good comic book.

Yet another flaming bird flies through the window dropping another note from DAVE F. in the middle of the table.

HUMPH: Okay seriously, what’s with the flaming birds?

JQ: We all pitched in and bought him a bird hatchery at the last @$$hole Christmas party. All except Buzz…Buzz got him a blowtorch.

DAVE F.: There can be little doubt: HOUSE OF M is a flop as a first issue enticement. Had it been double-sized - the first half the talky-talk and the second half being some sort of actual story in Wanda World - well, then I probably wouldn't be so critical of the whole "prologue" feel. Bendis's stuff is always an easy read for me, even as I might be inwardly groaning at his inability to go up-tempo or produce anything concise. I liked watching his characters interact. I liked seeing Cap's philosophy counter Wolverine's. But as others have's not a story, not really. It feels self-aggrandizing, too, spinning off as it does from Bendis's "Avengers Disassembled" arc, increasingly acknowledged among fandom to be a mess. I swear, if I read that opening recap of "Disassembled" in one more friggin' book - you know, the one that begins "It was the worst day in Avengers history..." - I'm gonna have to assume that Bendis just has no respect for the writers who came before him. "Worst day in Avengers history"? I know it's just a tagline, but that's something for the readership to decide, godammit!

MODERATOR: Well, that just about sums it all up. You guys have rambled enough. Time to bring this Roundtable to a close. Now…uhm…anyone have a fire extinguisher? Someone’s got to put out all of these birds. It’s starting to stink worse than usual around here.

No actual birds were harmed in the making of this Roundtable – except for the ones Dave F. set on fire…and the ones Buzz shot…and that one that the Prof ate raw (but that twirpy little bastard had it coming).

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