After taking a huge hit in the previous issue, the Human Resistance Movement is on its heels in Dennis Hopeless, Cullen Bunn and Marco Failla's "House of M" #2. The co-writers balance time between a variety of fronts, however, giving Failla plenty to draw. Matt Wilson colors the art and Joe Caramagna brings the letters to round out the issue, which opens with Magneto playing a game of chess to keep his mind sharp. A shadowy figure harasses the ruler of Genosha, but the master of magnetism remains cool and confident.
"House of M" #2 does not run the risk of growing stale, as the story checks in with the Human Resistance Movement, introduces Magneto's grandsons (Wiccan and Speed) and expands on the plot Namor and Quicksilver are constructing. Hopeless and Bunn waste no time whatsoever on backstories or exposition that cannot be covered conversationally and keep the story moving, gaining momentum with each page turn. They manage to inject personality and individualism into every character in the pages of this comic, giving readers an assortment to choose from or cheer for.
However, Magneto is central to this issue. Ruling his kingdom and guarding against attack, Magneto isn't the most social, but his shadowy antagonist affords Hopeless and Bunn enough space to define Magneto's personality, bolstering his arrogance and self-importance. Both literally and figuratively, Hopeless and Bunn use Magneto's arrogance as the root cause of his kingdom's downfall, which is when the story really gets interesting.
The pairing of Namor and Quicksilver is smartly played to make them almost sympathetic characters, though still treacherous. Both characters have enough history in comics as antagonists to truly sell their roles in "House of M" #2, but Hopeless and Bunn magnify those personalities to great effect. Keeping things close to the throne, the writers also define Wanda, breaking her into Mama Bear mode and pitting her against Wolverine.
Marco Failla latches onto the fun inherent in this "Secret Wars" tie-in and brings that through to the characters on the page. His style is a little Olivier Coipel, a little Doc Shaner, a little Paco Medina and a bit Mahmud Asrar, all of which comes together for intricately detailed art. His characters express themselves through their body language and the way they move through the panels on the page, with each one maintaining his or her own visual identity. Wilson's colors are bold and fun, matching the exploratory aspects of Failla's art while also enhancing this tale. The settings are vibrant and lively, colored to pop off the page and to amplify the characters living in those settings. Caramagna's letters maximize the space they are assigned and bounce nicely throughout the issue; it almost seems as though a unique style is appearing in the proximity he uses between the speech bubbles and the characters, the relation between conversation participants and the flow of captions through panels and across pages.
"Secret Wars" has taken readers back to some beloved storylines and served up some updated/modified versions of fan-favorite alternate realities. The most enjoyable of those haven't slogged through exposition nor did they mire themselves too deeply in the minutiae of "Secret Wars." The more entertaining tie-in titles, like "House of M" #2, presume intelligence in the reader, offer a hook for their interest and move the story along, adding in fan favorite characters and fun adventures along the way. I'm not sure where my allegiance lies at the end of this issue, but Hopeless, Bunn, Failla, Wilson and Caramagna ensured it was a fun read and have given me more than enough incentive to return for the next issue.