Double Take Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #1
- Published on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 01:00
- Written by Kevin
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The latest X-Event, X-Men: Schism, is over and in its wake the X-Men have been split into two groups: The militaristic X-Men on Utopia lead by Cyclops and a new Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters lead by Wolverine. With this aftermath Wolverine and Schism scribe Jason Aaron is now taking on Wolverine and the X-Men.
This is the first ongoing team book Aaron is getting to write at Marvel. I’ve mostly known Aaron as a solo book writer so I am a bit nervous to see how his first big team book turns out since it is a different monster compared to solo books. Hopefully Aaron delivers some big surprises with Wolverine and the X-Men #1. Let’s find out.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza and Al Vey
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The reconstruction of the mutant school is underway as Wolverine asks Professor X if he has any advice for him. After some snarky comments Professor X says that he is proud of Wolverine for re-opening the school and that he should prepare to lose his hair.
The next day Wolverine puts on a suit and welcomes the Board of Education’s inspectors, along with fellow Headmaster Kitty Pryde, to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. With the two board members already having a negative attitude for the school they walk through various classes. None of these classes put Wolverine’s school in a good light with the board.
Things only get worse as Wolverine notice Hellion picking on a fellow student and decides to teach him a lesson by using the new Danger Room functions. All the while the two board members watch.
Wolverine introduces the two board members to Idie who is blunt about mutants being monsters and that she rather be cured but is fine with being at the school.
Wolverine and Kitty decide to take both board members to Hank’s lab hoping that Hank will spin things in their favor. Unfortunately they find Hank working without having his pot of coffee yet
Just then two members of the Shi’ar Empire arrive and quickly talk about how unimpressed with the school.
Wolverine goes to meet him and finds out it is none other than Kade Kilgore, the new Black King of the Hellfire Club. Kade introduces himself as the new King and tells Wolverine that he was responsible for the split in the X-Men. He goes on to say that he did not expect Wolverine to open up the school and that he will make it his mission to destroy the school.
Just then some little Nightcrawler-type creatures run amok while Kitty tries to bring them in. Things get worse when a huge earthquake-type attack hits the school much to Wolverine’s frustration. End of issue.
The Good: As mixed as I was with Jason Aaron’s work during X-Men: Schism I have to say that he impressed me with Wolverine and the X-Men #1. Aaron continued everything I loved about Schism and corrected the parts of the story he got wrong. The issue was well fleshed out with characters that are all well developed.
The biggest strength of this issue by far was all of the fun quick dialogue. Where this issue lacked in action it more than made up for in great character work from start to finish. Unlike his work on Schism Jason Aaron displayed a great handle of the entire X-Men cast, not just a pair of them. In using the story device of Wolverine and Kitty trying to do their best in making the new school for mutants an official New York school it gave us a chance to look at the various cast of characters that will be part of this book.
This issue really showed that one of the things that has been missing from the X-Men franchise has been a use of the entire X-Men universe. For too long it seems like we have been seeing the same seven characters headlining the main X-Men books. From promotion to content material we have gotten it has never felt as though the writers where using the all the story opportunities that the X-Men universe provides.
But finally that is what we seem to be getting in Wolverine and the X-Men as Aaron quickly establishes a bunch of various sub-plots from the establishment of the new school, the Shi’ar re-emergence to the X-Universe, Kade’s new Hellfire Club and Wolverine leading a new team of X-Men. There is a lot accomplished in this single issue that leaves me with a lot of hope.
Keeping with the strength of his X-Men work thus far Jason Aaron nails Wolverine’s character. Aaron gives us a Wolverine that continues to evolve with each issue he writes him in. The character is showing that overtime he has changed because of those around him. His relationships with characters such as Kitty Pride and Beast have helped him become who he is.
Aaron does a good job showing this through the conversation Wolverine has with Professor Xavier. Even though as the reader and Prof X know that Wolverine will never be able to rid himself of his killer instincts he is now seen as a leader within the X-Men. Just like Prof X and Cyclops, the rest of the characters look up to Wolverine. They know that he isn’t just the best at what he does but will do anything for the team.
This also made Wolverine’s interaction with Kade Kilgore more entertaining because you could see that Wolverine was doing his best to not pop a couple claws in the kid. Kade is quickly proving to be a great foil for Wolverine who now has officially taken a leadership position in the X-Men. Aaron portrays the kid as someone who does not give two cents for anyone.
And it is great to see Kitty Pryde getting some of the spotlight in this issue. Aaron does a good job showing that she is just as nervous as Wolverine and that she is still able to defend herself and the school. As still the youngest among the core X-Men I like that she has the Headmistress role as it could lead to some fun interactions with the new students at the school. From the looks of it she will be one of the stars of this book which is great because Aaron really knows how to write Kitty’s character, which is great news for this Kitty Pryde fan.
I also liked seeing how Aaron continues Idie’s character. As a new character to the X-Men universe Idie is providing to be a nice change to the typical main teenage mutant we see in every new X-Men book. She is npt like Kitty or Jubilee when they started as she has much more of an edge and darker side to her with her actions in Schism. It’ll be interesting to see where Aaron goes with the character and how he has Wolverine handle her.
Though Aaron is not known for delivering funny dialogue he did a good job here showing his lighter side by having Toad as the schools janitor. I won’t hesitate to admit that when I saw that I didn’t laugh a bit having known the character for a while. It added some nice humor in this dialogue heavy issue.
One of the things that I will be keeping a close eye on in future issues is how Aaron handles the Shi’ar return to the X-Men universe. DnA did a fantastic job reestablishing the Shi’ar Empire as one of the powers of the Marvel Universe. With everything the Shi’ar Empire has been through with Gladiator as the new leader I want to see how Aaron handles this change to them.
The Bad: On the downside of things, I am not a big fan of Chris Bachalo’s artwork in this issue. Bachalo has always been a hit-or-miss artist for me as he needs to be given the right story for his art to shine. Unfortunately this isn’t it. Bachalo’s art is all over the place with characters being drawn inconsistently, wide angles that look awkward and panels that look cluttered.
Overall: Wolverine and the X-Men #1 is a strong start for the new status quo of Wolverine’s squad of X-Men. The strong focus on the characters that make up this book made it so that we did not need action to be entertained. Jason Aaron made sure to keep this issue moving at a quick pace and never felt slow. With the ending we got at the end we are sure to get plenty of action in the next issue. If you are a fan of the franchise and are looking to get your X-Men fix look no further than Wolverine and the X-Men #1. This is just a fun issue that brings back all the fun elements of the X-Men franchise.
Kandou Erik's Take:Story Rating: 9
Art Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 8.5
I have enough books on my pull-list. In addition, it seems every time I try to reduce the number of books I get each month - I somehow end up with even more books on my list. I was planning on leaving Wolverine after issue #16, but have since decided to keep reading the series. Jason Aaron is that good - and that's the reason I'm signing up, although cautiously, to Aaron's new series "Wolverine and the X-Men". It turned out to be very good. In fact, this is a must-read series for all comics fans; not just X-Men fans. Like I said, Aaron is that good.
Wolverine, having split off from Cyclops' more militant-leaning X-Group, has decided to open up his own school for mutant kids -- The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Right off the bat this seems like a different school - even though it's build on the same grounds of the Xavier Institute, with the same mission statement as Xaviers. Wolverine wants to give mutant children a place for them to be safe and be educated - instead of being so often relied on as soldiers, as Cyclops has been of late. The obvious dichotomy of a ruthless killer like Wolverine trying to be a teacher is not lost on him - but after the recent tragedies and horrors he's recently faced (unknowingly being tricked into killing his own children) - the move to scale back, and try something new in his life, makes sense.
The school, to say the least, is a mess. Wolverine has put all of his money into just building the school, and doesn't quite know how he's going to keep the place going. He has a lot going for him, though. Half the X-Men also walked out on Cyclops, and are helping to staff the school. It's such a treat to see so many obscure characters popping up out of the woodwork, from Generation X alumni Husk and Chamber, to former New Mutants Cannonball and Karma, to X-Men regulars Rogue, Gambit, Rachel Grey, and Iceman, with Toad as the janitor - and even Doop as receptionist. Wolverine shares Headmaster duties with Kitty Pryde, immediately making this feel like a nice revisit to Joss Whedon's X-Men run. Beast is the Vice Principal; though he seems more busy keeping the place from falling apart. A ton of experimental Shi'ar tech has been brought in to make the school less dependent on resources, making the school completely self-sufficient (as long as it doesn't explode).
It immediately becomes clear, though, that the stars of the book are going to be the students. Old Xavier students litter the halls, with a few characters being focused on in this issue. Hellion and Glob Herman are taking on the roles of school bullies. Inherent troublemaker Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega, is locked in detention already - with a hilarious shot of him having scrawled "I'm a political prisoner" on the floor. Idie Okonkwo, the student most wronged by Cyclops, as under his orders Idie violently killed numerous Hellion Soldiers, stands out as the kind of child Wolverine is trying his hardest to do right by. Toss in some extra-terrestrial students, like Broo (an intelligent and thoughtful Brood), and Kid Gladiator, troublemaker son of the Shi'ar Emperor -- it's an eclectic cast if ever I've seen one. Yet it has potential to be a very entertaining cast of characters!
The main plot of this issue is pretty simple, and works as a device to show readers what the school is all about -- as Wolverine and Kitty are forced to justify the school's existence to the New York State Department of Education. They are snooty elitist snobs from the get-go, but a lot of humor comes from the strained interaction between them and the off-the-walls insane atmosphere. They seem sure to shut the place down, and matters only get worse when a young rich boy stops by to confront Wolverine. I didn't actually read the Schism story arc (where Wolverine and Cyclops parted ways), but suffice to say all you really need to know from that story is that the Hellfire Club is now run by children. Don't ask me why; they just are! And Kade Kilgore, the new Black King of the Hellfire Club, has come just ensure Wolverine's day goes from bad to worse - as he has somehow turned the ground beneath the estate into a giant monster, to swallow the entire school whole! The title revealed at the end of the issue is decidedly appropriate "Welcome to the X-Men! Now Die!"
The issue ends there - with issue #2 promising to have a big monster fight against the living land mass Krakoa. This simply was one of the most entertaining and smartly written comics I've read, outside of Grant Morrison's talents. Chris Bachalo, a long-time X-Men artist, delivers some stellar work - perfectly fitting the plot and style of the story. I know not everyone loves his art, as it's very cartoony and abstract -- but it comes off well here. This just seems like a such a refreshing return-to-form for the X-Men. It all seems reminiscent of the teen-friendly weirdness of Generation X, the intelligent style of Grant Morrison, and the classic-nature of Joss Whedon's X-Men run. Aaron has taken the style and inspiration from all of X-Men history to carve out a new path, which has been desperately needed ever since the self-isolation the X-Books have experienced in recent years.
So, long story short, I've yet another book on my pull list.