Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
- Pick of the Week - 04.17.2013 - Captain Marvel #12
Art by Chris Bachalo
Cover by Chris Bachalo
Size: 40 pages
There is always hope in a new beginning and I think that’s why number one issues seem to get made the Pick of the Week a lot around here.
With a new beginning anything is possible and that’s enticing. It’s a feeling of excitement that makes you want to be a part of something. Possibly something great. And you could be on the ground floor of that something great. Isn’t that a big part of why we read these comic books? To experience something great?
When I first started reading X-Men comics in the 1980s they were already well into that intricate soap opera being constructed mainly by writer Chris Claremont. In those comics the X-Men still lived at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center, NY but they weren’t really a school so much as a colorfully dressed band of heroes who had adventures all over the world (and sometimes off of it) and slept with each other. The school aspect was, for the most part, just a framing device.
Fast forward to recent years when I picked up The X-Men Omnibus that featured the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stories, combine that with Jeff Parker’s excellent X-Men: First Class series and the X-Men films and I’ve found that I really enjoy reading X-Men stories that focus on life at the school.
And that brings us to the Pick of the Week: Wolverine and the X-Men #1.
Despite having not regularly read any X-books in a while, I quite enjoyed X-Men: Schism, the latest big X-Men storyline, which ended with the team splitting into two factions, one based in San Francisco and lead by Cyclops, and one based in Salem Center and lead by Wolverine. (Sure, I found Wolverine’s motivation for breaking away kind of baffling but whatever, it got us to a good place.) Wolverine and the X-Men #1 brings us to Salem Center as we get a tour of the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning which now stands in the footprint of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. It’s a big day for the school and it’s headmaster Wolverine and headmistress Kitty Pryde. Not only is it the first day of class but the state education inspectors are on hand to certify everything.
As you might imagine at a school designed by Hank McCoy using the latest technology not only from Earth by from the Shi’ar and populated by extremely powerful mutants, nothing goes as planned.
Wolverine and the X-Men #1 was just tons of fun. Everything about it made me smile or made me laugh. It was fun watching Wolverine (the prototypical rebel) and Kitty (“Professor Xavier is a jerk!”) have to grow and and try to fit into their new roles as headmaster and mistress of a school. It was fun to watch them deal with snooty state bureaucrats. It was fun to watch them try to control the seemingly unending stream of problems and chaos that hey encountered while giving the tour of the school. It was fun to see all of the new technological advancements in place (the Danger Room being the entire school certainly has some possibilities). It was fun to see all the old X-Men taking on their roles in the new school.
This week if you read Wolverine and the X-Men #1 back-to-back with Scalped #53 (and hell, throw in Incredible Hulk #1) it becomes clear that there’s no writer in comic books right now with more range than Jason Aaron. Scalped is super serious and dreary and manages to both tug at your heart strings and punch you in the gut. With Wolverine and the X-Men, and especially in this first issue, I feel like Jason Aaron is really letting loose with the comedy and showing everyone just how funny he can be. (Which is something you find very quickly when you talk to him in person.) Wolverine and the X-Men #1 was consistently funny all the way through, and I have to say that I wasn’t expecting that when I sat down to read it. But it’s not just funny. It’s busting with all kinds of big and interesting ideas like the aforementioned updated Danger Room. Aaron has set up a lot of character dynamics in this school that should pay off in interesting storylines down the road.
What can I say about Chris Bachalo that I haven’t said already many times? He’s one of the best artists working in comics today. Bachalo’s known for his kinetic style and dynamic layouts, but lately he’s been showing that he can bring the same level of energy to stories that feature mostly talking heads and make them just as interesting and exciting as any pages long action sequence. There is so much going on in Wolverine and the X-Men #1, visually, that you almost forget that you’re mostly reading a tour of a school (with a few bits of action here and there). Bachalo’s style is such a visual feast for the eyes.
As I said above, I really like when the school aspect of the X-Men is played up and that I particularly enjoy reading the stories when the school is more than a mere lipserviced framing device for globetrotting superhero adventures. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that in Wolverine and the X-Men #2 we will spend most of our time with Bobby Drake as he stresses over balancing the school’s books–especially since at the end of this issue the school was set upon by a giant rock creature which was seemingly directed by the new Black King of the Hellfire Club–but I hope that we keep a bit of that in the background. I like the juxtaposition of these kids with fantastic abilities having to split time between saving the world and algebra.
Bobby Drake is the Tom Katers of the X-Men.