Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, and Al Vey
I’m not a believer in Jason Aaron. I haven’t read Scalped, I don’t like Ghost Rider, and the Wolverine runs of his I’ve read I haven’t been able to stay with after the first arc. There’s just something about him that always makes me feel as if he has a really good story in him when he takes over a book, but then he gets dragged out to doing three or four when he’s only got the one. That’s how Wolverine felt after he went to hell, and then the book went to hell. Now, couple this with the hot mess I found Schism to be, and the fact that Kieron Gillen is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers at Marvel, and this book actually lost a lot of hype with me as we got closer and closer to it.
Now, here’s the thing. It’s a lot of fun. Really, this book is entertaining as hell, and despite my hating of Jason Aaron’s characterization of Logan lately (hi Schism!) I absolutely love how he’s handled here. He had been such an out of character chore of a plot device lately that I really was prepared to give up on this title rather then risk seeing more of that same crap, so the fact that I enjoyed this book is just one giant sigh of relief. The book is fun, there’s banter, there’s jokes, characters who play well off of each other, and above all else, it features an INCREDIBLY well handled Kitty Pryde in a lead role. In fact, her presence alone makes this book that much better.
The premise of the first issue is that Logan and Kitty, the headmaster and headmistress of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, have to deal with two member of the New York State Department of Education in order to get the school inspected and accredited. Of course, the school is still a work in progress and Hank has completely gone into mad scientist mode, so this is one of the hardest sells they’ve ever had to make. Whether it be the history of the school being blown up, Logan’s public identity as a fight loving super hero, or the fact that any room in the school can now turn into a Danger room; there is absolutely no shortage of things to blow up in the X-Men’s faces here.
We get to see some classes in action, like Rachel teaching kids how to put up mind defenses, or Husk trying to deal with obnoxious kids for her Mutant Lit class. We meet Toad the janitor, and Idie who has no problem telling these inspectors how they’re all monsters and she hopes one day they can be cured before she kills again. Hellion falls back into his role as a schoolyard bully not seen since before M-Day, and we get some alien characters introduced like Kid Gladiator, son of Shi’ar Majestor Gladiator. Really, the abundance of characters serves Aaron well as he actually seems to do a better job juggling a cast than placing too much focus on one (by my experiences), and I adore the dynamic he’s creating here.
As for the art? Well, it’s Chris Bachalo. Chris Freaking Bachalo! The book is gorgeous and quite literally everything I’d hoped for since he was announced for this. Everything about this book looks phenomenal, and maybe it’s my 90’s nostalgia speaking, but few artists truly capture the feel of X-Men quite like Chris Bachalo. I no longer have regrets about his limited run on Avengers because it means we get to see him here. Now, there are some issues, like Kitty looking asian in some panels, but then you see his take on Beast and you can forget all the problems. This is one of the best issues I’ve seen out of Chris in a long time, and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t appreciate his work.
A funny thing is that I just watched Wolverine and the X-Men on Netflix with my cousin last week, and while it wasn’t preparation for this series, it did get me in the right mindset. Logan in a leadership role is not something I have a problem with, but the show made it easier to accept. Kitty as the headmistress proves to be a perfect use for the character, and that’s not my bias to the character speaking, she has been through the program since she was younger than these kids and is really the best sort of proof that there’s success. This is some of the best written X-Men I’ve seen in a while, and I say this as someone who loves the X-Men line at Marvel. Really, if Jason Aaron can keep this up, I have no doubts in my mind that the X-Men books will be the premier titles at Marvel going forward.
Tags: Chris Bachalo, Jason Aaron, Reviews, Wolverine, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men, X-Men: Regenesis