Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol. 1 (comic)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Chris Bachalo, Nick Bradshaw
Collects: Wolverine and the X-Men #1-4

You'll recall in my review of Schism that I named this the book I was looking forward to the most out of anything. Funnily enough, I ended up reading the Uncanny X-Men relaunch first. I didn't review it - I've yet to decide if I want to - and in case I don't bother the short version is Cyclops and his not-so-merry band of X-Men continue to be stuck too far up their own asses. This comic is the exact opposite; it's funny, visually interesting, packed with great characters and never dull.

It's the X-Men book I've been waiting a long time for.

The setup will be familiar to almost anyone; we're back on the school grounds again, arguably where the X-Men belong. Schism surprisingly plays more of a role here than it did in Uncanny. The Kid Helfire Club - who you'll recall orchestrated everything that happened in Schism - decide it would be pretty funny if Logans new school blew up on the first day. So they blow it up on the day the board of education is visiting the school to evaluate. Hilarity ensues. Also Krakoa is involved. This all takes place in the first three issues, I remind you. The fourth issue is a standalone bridging our introductory arc and what comes next.

At first I felt Jason Aaron got the raw deal out of the split, with most of the power players sticking with boring Scott and his sinking island, but as it turns out he got the better end of the bargain. His eclectic group of mutants immediately proves themselves an engaging group, even as it becomes clear they're way out of their depth. The new kids are endearing and the old favorites are just as great. Everything simply works right from the first issue.

You can probably imagine my delight when I found out Chris Bachalo was on art duties. Turns out, he manages three issues before we need a fill in. But they are three stylish, visually striking issues. His exagerrated, animated style works perfect for a book like this; there are a couple of panels that aren't entirely clear in their storytelling, but they end up being minor issues in an otherwise beautiful book. Nick Bradshaw is also a strong artist in his own right and if he's the guy they have in mind for trading off art duties with Bachalo I'll have no complaints.

But there's just one other problem that has nothing to do with the contents themselves. The issue count. They want fifteen dollars SRP for four issues. This is quickly becoming standard at Marvel and it's starting to work on my last nerve. Once in a while is fine, but deliberately splitting stories or putting in a low issue count just to get more money out of the consumer is just low. I'm even more annoyed this time, because this is a series I'm buying rather than borrowing from the library.

The Score: 9 out of 10

If you are an X-Men fan and you don't like this book, I can only conclude that you either hate fun or are one of those odd souls that prefer King Cyclops and his team of villains.

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