The House of M comes to The Pulse, which is hardly surprising since they're both written by Brian Michael Bendis. For those of you not following the House of M story, the Scarlet Witch, daughter of Magneto, has suffered a mental breakdown and lost control of her powers which she (inadvertently?) uses to create a completely different reality, one in which mutants are in the majority and homo sapiens are oppressed. In this world, Hawkeye the archer, killed by the Scarlet Witch in "true" reality, is still alive. Now, thanks to Wolverine and a young mutant named Layla Miller, Hawkeye regains his memories, learns that this reality is false and that he should be dead.
Daily Bugle reporter Kat Farrell stumbles upon a crime scene at Stark Tower, complete with a big hole in the side of the building and the presence of the S.H.I.E.L.D Red Guard. S.H.I.E.L.D is now a mutant organization run by Sebastian Shaw and they don't take kindly to "sapiens" poking into their business. Kat manages to snap a photo of Shaw with her cell phone before disappearing into the crowd. She tries to bring the event to the attention of her editor (who is a blue-skinned mutant) only to be told that the Bugle will hold the story until it is cleared by S.H.I.E.L.D. When Kat questions this decision, she only gets herself in deeper. Ben Urich recommends she write "something truly inspired", newspeak for "something flattering about Magneto", to get back in the editor's good graces. Kat does her best to write a suck-up article only to be interrupted by Hawkeye who fires three arrows at her with such accuracy that he pins her to the wall by shooting through her blouse.
Thanks to Layla Miller, Hawkeye has seen the light. He remembers the true timeline and remembers that he should be dead. While he can see the newspaper headline that reads, "Avenger Hawkeye Dead", Kat sees a headline that reads, "Sentinel Memorial Landmark Declared." Hawkeye blurts out his whole story to Kat and then goes with her to Avengers Mansion, which is the New York City Botanical Gardens in this reality. Angered by it all, he uses an explosive arrow to destroy the Central Park memorial to Magneto. He tells Kat that he wanted her to know the truth even if she doesn't believe it and he hopes she will report it. Then he tells her that he plans to go to Magneto's stronghold in Genosha and take down his whole family. "I don't have the power to put the world back the way it was and I don't even know if it can be put back," he says, "but I damn well can kick the guy's ass who did it." After all, he tells Kat, "What's he going to do, kill me?"
Let me say right off the top that I don't care very much for this whole House of M business. I know that Marvel has promised that changes in regular continuity (whatever that is these days) will come out of this storyline but it still just looks like an overly-long "What If" tale to me. The whole idea of an alternate reality taking over from the true reality, which characters have to slowly figure out, is an old one and can be a lot of fun. (I can remember several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for instance, that used that theme and used it well.) But I can't go for it this time. Maybe it's because I have no interest in the whole mutant thing. I don't read X-Men anymore and I'd just as soon keep all of those endless numbers of mutants at arm's length. And the Spider-Man connections to this story seem empty and perfunctory. Peter Parker as a big-time celebrity with Uncle Ben still alive? I know we've seen that in a "What If?". And the trappings of Gwen as Pete's wife, Rhino as Pete's bodyguard, Crusher Hogan as Pete's wrestling foil, and Peter hiding the fact that he isn't a mutant are momentarily novel but have no staying power, losing their appeal after the first encounter.
All of which makes it difficult for me to get too excited about this issue of The Pulse. It's fun to see Hawkeye again. Bendis' dialogue (in the Bugle meeting, between Kat and Ben, between Kat and Hawkeye) is as rich and enjoyable as ever. The artwork by Lark and Guadiano is fine. And there are some nice touches like Hawkeye seeing one headline while Kat sees another. But as for the story as a whole...? Eh.