Spider-Man: House of M #4

Background

Peter Parker lives a life that other people can only dream about. He's a billionaire who's married to Gwen Stacy and has a seemingly ideal life. One he subconsciously knows is all a lie.

The truth that's unknown even to him is that he was part of a combined group of heroes that went to confront the insane Scarlet Witch in Genosha some time after she brought down the original Avengers. She has altered history and allowed mutants to become the dominant species on the planet. To keep the heroes occupied she has granted each of them their ideal life to keep them from discovering the truth.

Last issue, Rhino was approached by the mysterious Green Goblin who has provided J. Jonah Jameson with Peter's personal journal where a deep secret was revealed: he's not the mutant he has claimed to be all these years. He received his powers in a lab accident with a spider.

The Goblin approached Rhino, Parker's bodyguard, for some additional assistance brining him down. The Rhino agreed to meet him in a hanger at the Parker estate only to double cross the Goblin by calling in a favor with his pals the Ox, Vulture, and Electro (who died capturing the Goblin).

When the managed to subdue the Goblin, Gwen Parker discovers the fight and investigates. When asked, she removes the mask and discovers that the Green Goblin is Peter Parker.

Story Details

After a few awkward seconds, Peter tries to explain himself while wriggling out of Rhino's grip. He makes up excuses for being in the Goblin costume that nobody believes, including Gwen.

When Peter finally breaks free of Rhino's grip, he webs Gwen's neck and takes her as a hostage in order to get away from them. Gwen is now terrified of her husband. He announces to the four of them that "the Goblin already killed [you]. It's in my journal." While he backs away he whispers to Gwen he's sorry and that he'd never actually hurt her. He simply has to get away. As he removes the webbing from her neck, he tearfully begs Gwen to keep him away from their son Richie and flies away on the glider.

The Vulture flies after him but stops when a Sentinel spots Peter flying away and orders him to halt. While Peter draws the Sentinel's attention, Vulture returns to the ground. His decision to let him go is challenged, but he flatly informs them that they've brought out every human control law since his secret was disclosed. He sympathizes with Gwen, but he's not going to a prison camp for him.

Jameson continues to parade his discovery to every news outlet he can. On one program, the interviewer reminds him that the fallout from this has been responsible for much anti-human sentiment and asks the question if he's a gene-traitor. Jameson dodges the question and reminds the viewers that Parker's lied to banks and governments about his status, which earned him billions. Despite the interviewer's best efforts, he can't get Jameson to answer any question. At this point they cut away for a breaking news story. A sentinel-cam has taken a picture of the Green Goblin unmasked. Jameson is stunned.

At the Parker estate, Gwen calms her father George Stacy down after she explains what happened. She knows that he is confused but believes that would never intentionally hurt her. When they begin to decide their next course of action, Ben Parker enters the room and informs them that by decree from the House of M, the Parker assets will be seized. By the end of the month, nothing will remain of their fortune. Ben sits down and sobs, stating that he just wants to bring Peter back. Gwen has an plan.

Gwen gathers up some spider-tracers tuned to his spider-sense and increases the signal on them. She, George, and Ben will wear them while looking for him in the hopes that he'll find them just to stop the constant buzzing. In the meantime, they agree that they have to get Peter's journal back from Jameson to prevent any more anti-human fallout and hopefully determine the cause of Peter's breakdown. They each take a pair of web-shooters with each of them and plan to steal the book from Jameson's house.

Jameson contacts Norman Osborn and asks for protection against Parker. Jonah is now forced to admit that he's out of his mind and wonders what he'll do next. He wants to use Osborn's unofficial connections to secure this protection. Osborn directs him to a man named Smythe who will help him.

Later that night, Gwen, George,and Ben break into Jameson's house and are attacked by his new bodyguard: Smythe's robot, controlled by none other than Jonah himself. Gwen and Ben distract the spider-slayer while George looks for the journal. Jonah gets too caught up in his delusion and knocks Gwen to the ground. At this point Spider-Man appears, having followed the signals of the spider-tracers, and destroys the robot. He takes the journal from George, tells Gwen he loves her, and leaves.

Gwen is beside herself with grief since she'll this was all for nothing; she'll never be able to help her husband. George thinks otherwise and reveals that he used the web-shooter to steal the journal back just as Peter left.

General Comments

Everything in this mini-series moved along with absolute precision. Having the Parker family break into Jameson's house is unusual but it still works. Gwen is shown to be a very competent and resourceful young woman determined to save her husband.

What really stands out to me is that May is underused. This makes sense when you think about it. Out of the entire supporting cast, only May and Mary Jane will remain after the series ends. Might want to use the resurrected characters while you can. Ben, George, and Gwen are shown a three-dimensional characters, which makes the series that much more entertaining. Readers are subconsciously aware that they'll miss these characters when the proper reality is restored.

Overall Rating

4 webs. Great story with great art. I'm enjoying this series primarily because I know it's temporary, the characterizations are dead-on, and this is topped off with a well constructed story.