The Schism occurred, splitting the X-Men in half–some stayed in Utopia, an island off the coast of San Francisco with Cyclops, while others went back to Westchester, NY with Wolverine to re-open Xavier’s old school. It’s an all new beginning in Marvel’s latest ongoing series Wolverine and the X-Men and if you want to find out if Wolverine and friends have what it takes you should keep reading.
Wolverine and the X-Men #01; Aaron, Bachalo, Townsend; MARVEL; $3.99
“Welcome to the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning”
We begin this issue with the grand-opening of the new mutant academy and it is indeed “grand.” There’s a really awesome two-page spread (pages 5 and 6?) at the beginning of the book showing an overwhelmingly complicated and awkward chimera of a school (yeah, Beast got a bit carried away), and while it may be a bit comical, you really have to appreciate the amount of detail the artist put into the design of this place–it’s pretty unbelievable. Sometimes the greatest challenge for a comic book lacking depth doesn’t boil down to the writer’s character development, doesn’t boil down to the plot, it’s apparent in the atmosphere. It takes a lot to immerse the reader in the environment of the book (even with illustrations), and I think this is what we get here. Like the artwork or not, we get a real grasp for what the tone of this school will be like, and it features the exotic mixed with some chaos.
As for the writing, my only real complaint is that not much really happened in terms of progression. We get a nostalgic exchange between Xavier and Wolverine where Xavier gives Wolverine his blessings as wells as some comedic dialogue between Kitty and Wolverine (headmistress and headmaster) as they deal with the bureaucrats inspecting their school; and I think the actual storyline progression here is supposed to feel slow as they deal with the inspectors–bureaucracy is slow, after-all, and it’s only fitting then that school won’t be approved (if at all) in the first issue. So if we are supposed to feel frustrated with the way the inspectors get in the way of the actual storyline progression, then I think Aaron did a great job. We also get an appearance from the new Black King of the Hellfire Club, child genius Kade Kilgore, as well as a giant monster (both seem bent on destroying the school and the mutants). I’m excited to see where the conflict between Wolverine’s team and the new Hellfire Club goes as the children of the Club are giving me a real Umbrella Academy vibe and that is one of my favorite books. This is also echoed in Bachalo’s zany artwork, so if this is where the future of the series is heading, I’m pretty excited.
I clearly just described a lot going on this book so it may seem contradictory when I say “not much really happened.” The book DOES stay quite busy and there’s chaos everywhere. The fact that Wolverine faces three separate conflicts by the end of this issue proves that (Bureaucrats, Kilgore, and Monsters, oh my!). So there is a lot going on in that sense, but not a lot actually driving the plot forward (I hope you see what I mean here). Still, we do get introduced to some pretty cool new characters like Broo (his name ironically seems to match that of this blog) who is a peaceful alien who’s mutation lies in his passive nature (his species on the norm are a violent, savage bunch), as well as some other new mutants.
All in all, the multiple conflicts leaving us hanging at the end leaves me really excited to see where Aaron and Bachalo take this new series. Hopefully we don’t get three more issues of bureaucrats and some actual plot instead, but we will see.
Probably the biggest controversy in this book is Bachalo’s artwork. It is pretty crazy and out there, but man you really have to appreciate the amount of detail he puts into it–you’d think that there would be less detail with less realistic artwork, but that is simply not the case here. And again, yes his panels are pretty chaotic, but like I said before, that’s what’s going on in this issue, chaos! So I’m also looking forward to seeing where the art takes this series as well.
I don’t know if the school inspectors will approve of Wolverine’s new academy, but I certainly do. It’s fun, it’s crazy, and it’s pretty light-hearted–something I feel we haven’t seen in the X-Men for a while. The additional student roster and class schedule at the back of the book are the cherry on top. It may be difficult to justify buying a $3.99 book, but I will say that I feel like I’m getting more for my money here compared to DC’s new JLA books which are also running at the same price. Wolverine and the X-Men was a bit of a slow read for sure, but I enjoyed just about every panel and felt pretty satisfied (and hooked) by the end.
Wolverine, Aaron and Bachalo get
4 out of 5 cups of coffee.