What If... Spider-Man House of M? (Story 2)

Background

During the reality created by the Scarlet Witch known as the House of M, Spider-Man had an ideal life: rich, respected, and married to Gwen Stacy.

In this reality we find out what would have happened if Gwen had somehow been brought back into the Marvel 616 universe. Unlike the previous story, the world is not in jeopardy by her existence.

Story 'What If... Gwen and Richie Parker Existed Outside The House of M?'

  What If... Spider-Man House of M? (Story 2)
Summary: House of M Spider-Man appears
Writer: Frank Tieri
Illustrator: Brian Haberlin

Peter tells Mary Jane, and Aunt May that he's invited some people over for dinner but doesn't disclose their identity . May and MJ are shocked when Gwen alive again with her son Richie in tow. They are more shocked when Richie calls Peter "Daddy".

During dinner, Peter explains how reality was warped and for some reason Gwen and their son survived. Things progress well until MJ notices that Gwen is wearing a wedding ring and snaps. She lashes out at Gwen calling her a "photocopy". This leads to an argument that May breaks up.

Over the next few weeks Peter tries to strike a balance, splitting his time between two families. He remains married to MJ and tries to remain on good terms with Gwen and Richie. As in times past when tried to juggle two relationships, he fails.

While spending some time with Gwen and Richie in Central Park, May pulls her nephew aside. She tells him that while she understands how difficult this is, he has to make a choice: Gwen or Mary Jane.

At this point, MJ calls May on her phone in tears. She passes the phone to Peter and tells him that the Green Goblin attacked her in their apartment. He believes her, but he knows that Norman Osborn is in jail. When she finds out that Peter was unable to protect her because he was out with Gwen, she walks away in disgust. Later that night, Peter arrives at the Raft and confirms that Osborn is in his cell. He is confused how this could have happened.

Following her run-in with the Goblin, Peter severs ties with Gwen to rebuild his relationship with MJ. Over time they are able to save their marriage. On their anniversary, Peter surprises MJ with an unusual purchase: a cabin in the woods. He had Tony Stark buy it for him and will pay him back over time... say the next century.

MJ is thrilled and as they walk inside, Peter suggests that she open the present conspicuously left on the table. When she opens it, she finds his Spider-Man costume inside. When she turns around she finds Peter in a Green Goblin costume. It seems that the Goblin identity Peter fractured mind created in the other reality survived as well.

As he webs MJ to an outside wall, he explains that he wanted her to leave, but she wouldn't. Now she has to pay the price. From a secret compartment, Peter calls forth a glider and prepares to impale her. Just before impact, he comes to his senses and intercepts the glider, saving her from his other personality. Just before he dies, Peter tells MJ he loves her.

Years later, Richie is contemplating revealing this information as he has developed spider-powers similar to his father. As he stares at his father's mask, he is unsure if he wants to continue his father's legacy. While a noble cause, he questions if this is too much responsibility for one person to handle.

General Comments

Ok, this is closer to the type of story that should have been written. Gwen and Richie reappear and the world doesn't end. Bringing them into the "real" Marvel universe provides an opportunity to look at a classic Peter Parker scenario with new eyes. However very little happens with regard to Gwen's return.

The main complaint that I have is Gwen played a supporting role in a her own story . This was less about what would happen if Gwen returned and more about what would happen if Peter returned with his goblin identity. The emotional strain involved in forcing him to once again choose between Gwen and MJ in a very unique situation - such as this - would have made for a memorable story. It should not be the entire story, but they should have showcased these two strong women in a realistic argument over who should be "Mrs. Peter Parker".

I know that may sound bad, but let's face it, most fans want this. Done properly we would have a nice balance of pros and cons for both sides and give them additional depth. We could have gone so far as to round out Peter and have him make a choice. This would annoy fans who chose the "other" woman, but again, I'm going for a memorable What If? story. Since this is a rare opportunity for Gwen to come back into Peter's life without being a clone, why not do this? The point of this series is to explore alternate paths, so it would be fitting to grant Peter a shot at true happiness.

Unfortunately this was not explored. We were instead allowed to see someone with dissociative identity disorder remove himself from his alternate-world wife and son's life and try to kill his real-world wife. We're never sure if Peter planned to go back to Gwen after he killed MJ or not.

Overall Rating

2 webs. This has the makings of a decent story, but it is severely abridged and suffers as a result. I do wonder if this was the full story or if it was in fact compressed due to make room for the other stories in this issue. As I said in the other review, they should have left out the "Say What?" pages and divided the additional space between the other two features.