REVIEW: Wolverine & The X-Men #1

Wolverine and The X-Men #1

Written by Jason Aaron
Art  & Colors by Chris Bachalo
Inks by Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey
Letters by Rob Steen

There is a long, rich history of “First Day of School” stories involving the X-Men. Most recently we’ve seen Joss Whedon and Grant Morrison do their takes, and before them Chris Claremont (the legendary X-Men #1 included) and Stan Lee helped build the foundation of the X-Men.  The X-Men are about the education of young mutants as much as they are about being super heroes. That education aspect has slipped away from the X-Men in recent years, with the move to San Francisco, and ultimately Utopia (an island off the coast of San Francisco).  In the wake of X-Men: Schism, Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo log their entry into X-Men lore with Wolverine and the X-Men #1, depicting the first day of school at the newly founded Jean Grey School of Higher Learning, built on the grounds of the former X-Mansion, the home of the Xavier School for the Gifted.

Clearly by the title, you can tell the book focuses on Wolverine, who coming out of X-Men: Schism, has identified a need to care for and educate the young mutants, much like Professor Xavier’s original dream. In this first issue, we are introduced to the new school that Wolverine, along with Kitty Pryde, Iceman and Beast have built.  Through the eyes of outsiders, we’re introduced to the school, the students, the teachers, the new building and many of the other intricacies that go along with establishing a new school.  At first, when I read the issue, my initial thought was, “Wow, this is wordy” as much of the “action” in the book takes places throughout the never ending commentary and discussion occurring between Wolverine, Kitty and many other characters.  But as I continued reading the issue, my opinion quickly changed and I said, “Oh man, Aaron’s got it” and my excitement level increased.

Jason Aaron has been able to tap into part of the magic that made the X-Men special to fans like me in the first place.  It’s no secret how big of an X-Men fan I am, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But if you were to ask me why I like the X-Men? My answer would be something along the lines of: The X-Men work because they’re relatable. They’re a family and a community and while they go on big adventures and fight bad guys, it’s the fact that they all come home to same place and live amongst each other, constantly learning from one another, that makes me want to come back and keep reading.  Somehow in the past few years, we’ve moved away from that. Sure, the X-Men lived together on Utopia, but there was always a level of danger and tension with that set up (Which I imagine will continue in the pages of Uncanny X-Men), but by re-establishing the X-Men in Westchester, paying homage to the past but at the same time moving forward into the future, Jason Aaron has been able to conjure up some more of that magic. Or it seems out of the gate at least.

Now, I can’t see an X-Men book set in a school with art by Chris Bachalo and not think of his initial, ground breaking work on Generation X back in the mid 1990s. It’s great to see Bachalo back drawing X-characters and in a school environment, but it’s clear just how far he’s come in these past 15 years.  When Bachalo drew some Avengers stories recently that included alot of talking heads, thanks to Bendis, I heard many complaints about that “wasting” Bachalo’s talents. I couldn’t have disagreed more. Sure, Bachalo draws some great action, but he’s become a fantastic storyteller and cartoonist in his own right and every page and every panel is one to marvel at.  Never before have I seen an artist be able to draw Wolverine putting a suit on and make it dynamic and flowing with energy.  Bachalo is able to translate the anxiety laid out by Aaron in the story and bring it to life visually, while at the same time set the look of the new school and the cast of characters in a way that completely drew me in.

As you would expect, this first issue contained alot of set up and exposition. This is a big concept and Aaron and Bachalo found a plot device that would allow us to be introduced to this new world of the X-Men at the new school. My initial thought about the story being wordy hasn’t changed. If you look at this issue, you’ll see alot of word balloons and at times, it does detract from the story and overwhelms some pages of art.  But that’s okay, because as I mentioned, there’s alot to get through and what words are being used are fantastic. Aaron has pulled in just the right amount of aspects of the X-Men history to create something new, which is no small feat. I don’t want to spoil the surprises within, but any fan of the X-Men will get excited at least 5 times as you read this issue, seeing little hints and nods to the past and pondering the potential for the future as Aaron lays the groundwork for what could be an epic conflict.

I’ve been on the edge of my seat these past few months as X-Men: Regenesis was hyped up, wondering what the future will hold. Now that it’s finally here and I held Wolverine & The X-Men #1 in my hands, I can honestly say that my excitement for the X-Men continues to build. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo have delivered a fantastic  first issue of the kind of X-Men book that I want to read for a very long time.  The future is indeed bright, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.

 Story: 4 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4

(Out of 5 stars)

Comments

  1. Great review, I’m so excited for this book! I’m fine with wordiness in a first issue as long as it’s well-written and I doubt I’ll be disappointed.

  2. As someone who has a very basic understanding of the X-Men characters, would this be a good jumping on point?

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      The storytelling is such that it ought to make sense. There’s a lot of implied history, but I think everything you need to know is on the page. Take it from a fair-weather X-Men fan.

    • i hope thats the case. I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to jump back in to X-men books for a few years now and i’ve found the pattern always the same..first arc is accessible, then they start getting a bit meta and i start to feel like they’re referring to things that i’ve never read so i just drop and move on.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      It should also be said that I’ve stopped caring if I don’t get every reference in a comic. It’s like Twitter. Understanding and context emerge out of persistence.

    • i agree with you, but for some reason Xmen is always very difficult for me to maintain any momentum with. Twitter might be the key…i don’t have the mutated genes for that either. =)

    • I used Schism to jump back into the X-Books. If you can do that, you should. It will provide a lot of context for the current split, as well as give you a great deal of insight into the current motivations of all the major players on both sides.

  3. I was bout 95% sure this was going to be good, but it’s nice to be reassured.

  4. As far as Marvel covers go, that’s a really nice one, illustration, design and everything. It looks modern.

  5. Such an amazing time to be an X-Fan. Aaron, Gillen and Remender are EXACTLY the people who you want writing these titles.

  6. I didn’t realize Bachalo was so popular. In contrast, he’s probably my least favorite artist. Like ever.

  7. Why does Bachalo always draw Wolverine so effing weird?

  8. The last time I read anything X-men…ish was when I read Ultimate X-men. I thought that I would give this a try because it’s a number 1 and I haven’t read anything X-men or Marvel in awhile. I get that they split up and stuff so hopefully I can understand it without having to do extra research or something.

  9. Of all the artists, I can’t believe they picked Bachalo to draw Wolverine & The X-Men. His Logan is probably the worst rendition ever–he looks meat-headed and squares shaped. Simply awful.

  10. Contrary to popular opinion here I like Bachalo’s work. It doesn’t hurt to be different every once in a while.

  11. Again so glad to hear you enjoyed this as well as Hulk Paul, I was looking forward to both these titles so to read good reviews gets me even more excited

  12. Was initially going to give this book a pass, but I’m curious if Regenesis can reenergize my interest in X-Men. I tried Aaron’s most recent issue of wolverine, which was a lot of fun, if very tangentially related to Regenesis. In talking to Kieron Gillen at NYCC, he seemed to imply that he and Aaron are trying to organize the books better then they had been. (Which has long been a critique of the X-Universe, despite creators being on twitter and the like; See Peter David) And he hinted at there being fun interplay across the board. I’m genuinely interested. I’m in for at least the first issue.

  13. Whedon’s run was awesome. Fraction made me want to claw my eyes out. Here’s hoping this is much more of the former than the latter.

  14. Bachalo had me at Death of the Endless.

  15. I feel like this book was tailor made for me. Iceman? check. Cannonball? check. Chamber? check. Jason Aaron? check. Chris Bachalo? double check.
    Absolutely cannot wait for this book

  16. I’m guessing this is going to be available digitally, right? I’m contemplating going all digital with X-Men regenesis and seeing how that plays out. I wish Marvel had a more… consistent digital sales presence (What are and aren’t available are sometimes mystifying.) and incentivized better (Price cut after a month like the other digital sales.)

  17. So, as to the whole dichotomy of Xavier and Magneto being the passive resistance and the militant resistance a la King vs. X or Eamon De Valera vs. Michael Collins, etc. (and, yes, I’m simplifying history) :

    Is Wolverine now Xavier and Cyclops is Magneto light? (Since Cyclops is even working with Magneto and Logan is running the school.)

    • I think that that is one way to look at it, though I think it might be a little simplified, as you point out. Especially given Logan’s continued involvement with X-Force.

    • @AlanRob – you’re right, Wolverine is a stone cold killer. So what are the guiding philosophy of these two “sects” post-schism? Wolverine’s is “kids don’t fight until… what? 14? 18? 21? And is X-Force under the JGSHL black ops unit?

    • Sorry, *now the JGSHL black ops unit?

  18. Was a little worried cause wolverine has been hit or miss for me. But.. my hopes have been lifted a bit with this review… I love scalped……………. speaking of scalping……. Oh my god.. Dont mess with Jimmy Darmody!!!!!!!!!

  19. I’m always a bit mystified when I see a book is “too wordy”. I don’t care how beautiful someone’s art is (and I love Bachalo, one of my favorites), but if there aren’t enough words for me to spend some time with the book, I’m not getting my money’s worth. IMO, the pictures are there to enhance the writing, not the other way around. That said though, the book was pretty good, enough that I’ll stick around for a bit to see how it goes. I’ve tried several different X-arcs over the past few years, but they always do something to mess it up within 2-3 issues… guess we’ll see how this one goes 🙂

  20. Question from someone who generally doesn’t care for the X-Men, has it been said if this story will focus more on Wolverine or the students? Would prefer not to read a comic that focuses on Wolverine being all super-awesome and B-A, but like the idea of a comic about a bunch of relatively unknown super-powered people.

    Also, has it been said if this will be a relatively drama filled book? Just wondering, since I had no interest before, but the art has me hooked a little.

  21. The art just wasn’t for me.

  22. Gotta skip it. Bachalo’s style…no thanks.

  23. I came for Aaron and I left because of Bachalo. Yikes.

    I’m out.

    • This is an immediate five-starrer for me, it’s just the bee’s knees. And I didn’t find it talky at all – Bendis’ Avengers I find too talky, because much of the dialogue goes nowhere, but this was a riveting read.

  24. No offense, but in the future I’d much rather if you guys gave advanced copies of issues like this to either Josh or Conor to review.

    I love you, Ron, but you’re too much of a homer. I actually agree with your opinions in a lot of cases, but a Ron Richards review of a big X-Men issue (or the first issue of a Marvel event) really tells me nothing. It’s guaranteed to be a 4 or a 5, and Ron is ALWAYS optimistic about the start of series like this. He’s preconditioned to love them no matter what.

    The advance review of something like this would just be WAY more interesting to me if it came from Josh or Conor’s perspective.

  25. Loved it. I’m a fan of Bachalo’s art, and Aaron gives us a lot of humor here. The book is not only going off in a different direction, we get a different tone than what we’re used to. I’m on board. It’s kind of funny how the idea of a huge mutant school hasn’t really been explroed much in X-Men history. Morrison was the only guy to touch on it. I’m looking forward to Aaron’s take.

    One little nit pick. Wolverine threatens to unleash the kids on Kilgore. Isn’t this completely contradicting his Schism stance? It was a throw away line, but it really should’ve been nixed.

    • Completely agree with you. Typical Wolvie hypocritical response
      Eh. Didn’t hate it. I mean the problem is I’m not a Wolverine, Kitty or Beast fan. Love Iceman and Gambit though. Strongest thing coming from this issue was art. However I was glad Aaron acknowledged that Wolvie is in way over his head
      What kinda put a dampner on the issue was the pamplet. While cute does anyone really think Wolverine can just go to the blue area of the moon and stroll through Genosha. They might as well have put Atlantis and Latveria. Wolvie may be popular, but the guy can’t do what he wants. And again Jean bloody Grey. Talking about beating a dead horse. Yes we love er and miss her but she wasn’t Ghandi so you dont need to bloody have a lecture on her!
      Last thoughts. If Beast sticks with Wolverine after he learns about X-Force, Beast is dead to me. He’s already stuck with cap in secret Avengers after he shot someone but this will be pushing a bit too far. Eh maybe blame editorial

  26. I just read this issue, it has some outstanding art and…. well thats about it. i will prolly only be picking up #2 to see if the book improves. Prolly in the minority here but just not a big fan of the writing, aaron doesnt hold my attention at all.

    • I’m with you. Maybe I’m just a moody boor, but I found the whole thing to be a bit too goofy and hokey. The education board characters wore thin after just a few panels, and the endless exposition from Kilgore at the end made my eyes roll out of my head. I guess is could have been helpful for people with no context, but surely there could have been a better way to barf out that info. Also, I’m not too crazy about this Hellfire Kids angle. Nonetheless, I’ll stick around. Hopefully, once the story gets cooking, Aaron will settle into his groove.

  27. This didn’t seem that wordy to me. Not like Swamp Thing #2 where it was basically a full double page spread of text.

  28. Read it in the store, had to buy it. Too much fun to skim and skip.

  29. Just curious … How does this book fit with Uncanny X-Force? How long can it work for Wolverine to run a school during the day while slaughtering bad guys at night?