Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 10.26.2011 – Wolverine and the X-Men #1

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1183
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Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 44.2%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Bachalo
Cover by Chris Bachalo

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

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.

Conor Kilpatrick
Bobby Drake is the Tom Katers of the X-Men.
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. First we have a ‘New DCU’ sweep and now we start an X-Men sweep? Predictable! 🙂

    No it’s a really great review and while I’m not a fan of Aaron….Chris Bachelo is hard to pass up. Plus that is a really fantastic cover design by Bachelo. More comics should look like that.

    My POTW was FF #11 though. Great mix of humor, action, and a revelation that, while I don’t understand, really did surprise me. Now we go onto Fantastic Four #600 and Hickman taking on Galactus!

  2. My review is a carbon copy of your opinions, with the obvious exception of your superior writing skills Conor. Great write-up and you have to admit Toad really is just like Flycatcher, right?

  3. The whole Toad scene had me laughing for hours. Hilarious!

  4. Okay, this was a great issue, amazing art, awesomely zany writing, pure fun, et cetera, et cetera. But… Bobby Drake is the BOOKKEEPER? Not the Controller? Not the Accountant? Not the CFO? The guy’s a founding X-Man, with a degree in accounting. So come on, Wolverine! Give him a better title.

  5. Two X-men picks of the weeks in a row. When was the last time that happened?

  6. The xmen corner of marvel is at its best now it was a good week for aaron with this and hulk being my two fave books goid pick connor

  7. I loved this book. I’m not normally an Aaron fan. But this book was a joy to read. I hope the direction keeps up, because this could be an X-Renaissance in the making. And, my gods, Bachalo…. so, so good.

  8. I was very disappointed by this first issue. Wolverine was out of character (yeah I get that’s were the comedy comes from) and the art was a Huge turnoff for Me.

    Really I fell this got POTW just because it’s a first issue X-title, not because it stood out.

  9. DOOP!

  10. I like it when Conor likes X-comics. 🙂

  11. Great issue. It’s a good time to be an X-Fan. One thing keeps bugging me though. Where the heck is Wolverine getting all of this money? Xavier even touched on how expensive it is. Bobby must be a hell of a book keeper. Maybe he’s cooking them a bit. haha.

    • Wolverine is really old and has a lot of money.

    • and how come no-one realizes clark kent is superman?

    • My potw is Daredevil #5.

      So is there a new X comic w/ a “new” #1 coming out next week to get my potw radar ready for Josh.

      Matthew

    • Aaron’s actually dealing with that over in Wolverine at the moment. Wolverine has a huge stash of money from his time under the Chinatown gang lord alias Black Dragon. The next few issues focus on that stash being stolen and Wolverine getting it back. It’s a fun story and a clever way to explain the money issue. Also, it’s got Gorrilla Man, drug muling Dragons, and an actual tunnel through the center of the Earth. You should check it out.

  12. Lots of folks don’t seem to get that Wolverine’s ultimate objection to Cyclops was over the island of Utopia itself, not so much the students.
    To Scott, it represented an ideal that he’d built up in his head over years. It is a symbol of his break from Xavier as much as the new school is a symbol of Logan’s independence. In his head, it is nothing less than a new sovereign nation for mutants, and thus he was loath to give it up even if he was the last mutant standing on it.

    To Wolverine, when push came to shove, it was ultimately just a rock. He thought it was worth fighting for to an extent, but not enough to risk the kids when they could just evacuate. Cyclops thought it was worth making a stand over, Logan didn’t. There you go. If you get too hung up on the kids-should-remain-innocent angle it admittedly just doesn’t make all that much sense, given their long history of using kids to fight.

    • I think that makes perfect sense, though the problem with fully buying Logan’s motivation is that the aspect you mention was fully realized in the book itself.
      Still, I thought Schism did a good job in changing the status quo while still delivering a good story.
      Bloody hell, as soon as I type that I get Fear Itself flashbacks and cold sweats.

    • Well said!

  13. aw man. no more dc new 52?

  14. I’m geting old and cranky. I disliked this comic big time. It felt like reading one of those comics like Young Justice from DC that is aimed at kids. I didn’t find it at all funny. But like I say I’ve just got old and cranky and probably lost my sense of humour.

  15. I agree with the review. I thought it was pretty hysterical to see Wolverine and Kitty try so hard to please the inspectors. I also appreciated the weird positions Logan’s tie kept finding itself – funny touches in the art complimented the humor of the story so well.

  16. I really liked it. A testament to Aaron’s writing skills, that an issue walking around a school campus driven by dialog was a page turner and some good times. Yes get poor Toad a bed. Bachalo’s art is great….i don’t understand what some are complaining about. I hope the following issues can really build off this and be as accessible and fun.

  17. Nice review Conor, I loved the comic too. The only boring thing about it was the cover copy … ‘Brand-new ongoing’. Whee!

    And how about those two back-up features?

    • The course list at the end had me laughing outloud.

      Frankenstein in the fur vest.
      Please God let him join the team.
      I would do a happy dance if he worked with Toad on maintenance.

  18. Ok… I’ll say what some readers have to be thinking. I do not like the art, it is not a style I enjoy. Because it is so stylized, I do not see if growing on me. For all the detail in the backgrounds, the character designs are left looking non-humanoid, particularly Kitty in her first scenes. As for the book itself; it had some funny points and some nice character moments. I can not get past the art though.

    • That’s fair enough, Cubsmondano, I’ve had problems in the past with Bachalo on Spider-Man, when I just couldn’t follow the storytelling. It’s great that he has an instantly recognisable style but it’s not going to be for everyone. I think he suits this book more than many.

    • Thanks for speaking up for all those shy internet commenters too afraid to give an opinion on something. You’re doing God’s work.

    • That is the reason I didn’t pick up the book yesterday while browsing the art… It looked wonky to me so I put it back on the shelf and bought something else instead!

    • I get sick of seeing the same cookie cutter superhero art in my comics, so I love guys like Bachalo and Foreman.

    • Bacchalo is one of my favs. Him, Humberto Ramos, Skottie Young, Joe Mad…. Love the non-realistic stuff.

    • @mistershaw 10 years ago we would have called those artists manga influenced. Of course, that was before manga became as mainstream as it has.

  19. If you guys like fun and funny Jason Aaron please please please read Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine. It is VERY good.

    I just re-read it the other day and had my mind blown AGAIN.

    I feel like this book slipped past a lot of people.

  20. Those are my favorite pages in comics… EVER.

    Seriously though, they are. Sometimes I break out that issue just to let people marvel at the triple-page-spread.

    Nobody can deny EGODOOM!

  21. I cannot explain my love of this issue. so many things I’m loving about it

  22. I hated this comic. This was a bigger disappointment to me than anything in the Ultimate line from the last year.

  23. This was a hoot. I am normally just sick to damn death of Wolverine, but I loved this issue. Jason Aaron has some serious range, Bachalo’s art was great, and there were plenty of fun moments.

    I had an awesome stack of comics yesterday though, so this has some stiff competition for PoTW once I get to the rest of the stack.

  24. It’s nice to see Wolverine evolve. It’s a good new step for his character, not really an out-of-character thing. “Acting out of character” is the most annoying complaint I see all over this site and most comic sites. Characters, like people, change. Deal with it. Rants aside, I enjoyed this a lot, but my inner-Nightcrawler fanboy demands to know more about the little blue dudes all over.

  25. The percentage of number ones that get POTW and the sucess of the new 52 makes me wonder why the dark horse Hellboy model is not the norm, with each arc in an ongoing getting a number one.

  26. This was my PotW as well… Until I read Secret Avengers. Aja blew me away!

  27. I’m looking forward to getting this even more now. Speaking of the X-Men omnibus and those classic sixties issues (and Tom Katers), I’m co-hosting an x-men issue by issue commentary podcast starting from that #1 from 1963 (and presumably ending with last week’s #544. It should be checked out, and shared with friends, and yes, this comment is total self promotion:

    http://redcatproductions.com/dangerroom/
    http://www.facebook.com/DangerRoomPodcast

    • Are you going to redo the issues you already did with the numbered reprints from the 70s?

    • I imagine if there’s any new material we’ll cover that, and if there are any key appearances in other comics (we already did fantastic four #28) we’ll cover those too. And then jump forward to Giant Size X-men #1. But it’s unlikely we’ll redo anything. You can always go back and re-listen!

  28. Finally got a chance to read my comics this week. And this was awesome.

    I feel like they could do a mini just focused on the small stories like the Nation X mini and do a much better job of keeping me entertained

  29. Can’t wait to read this when I get back from Hawaii. The new wife would have killed me if I got my books this week!

  30. Loved this comic, Jason is my favorite writer going and I was delighted to see how well this turned out. However I just for some reason can never get into Bachalo’s style. I like the cover a lot but there are quite a few pages where I find it hard to grasp whats going on in the panel. Almost to much stuff or just to mashed together. I hated Acuna’s art when I first saw it and have now changed to enjoy his work as much as I do anyone elses. I’m hoping this will happen with Bachalo but I just don’t think it will.

  31. A lot of love for the story, not much love on the art department. That’s exactly how I felt too. During the late1980’s and early 1990’s, the X-books were gorgeous, drawn by Silvestri and Lee (and Liefeld too, but nothing’s perfect). Nowadays, not so much. Land can’t compare to those artists, and Bachalo’s style is just too different for most people. Readers just love it or hate it. Maybe if they had tapped someone else for the art the book’s reception would be better. I’m on for the ride, though, at least for the first arc.

  32. I really love this comic. More than any single issue in probably years. I’m not sure WHY, but I do. Is Marvel going day-and-date digital with X-books yet? I’d like this to be the first series I get directly on a Kindle Fire.

    • Yeah, the X-books are mostly same day digital. Along with Marvel’s stealth reboot, they are also doing a ‘stealth same-day digital’ initiative as well, by the look of it. 11 of their books last week were same-day. Of course they are concentrating on the 3.99 issues but what can you do.

  33. This was literally the X-men comic I’ve wanted my entire life. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Morrison run, but I did love that he fully played up the school angle.
    After that, when Harry Potter and Naruto were the biggest kids products in the world, I couldn’t fathom why the X-men abandoned the school aspect that they had pretty much invented. The wacky, Hogwarts-style aspect of the school being played to it’s fullest is awesome and exciting.

  34. Intense. Fucking. Dislike. That is how I would describe this book. Hated the art, no surprise there. Surprisingly, found the writing to be poor as well. The goofy, predictable humor was reminiscent of a Japanese kids show. Very poor showing ans I shan’t continue reading at all.

  35. This was my POTW as well, barely edging out Spaceman #1. But what I think I love the most is how divisive Wolverine and The X-Men seems to be.

    There are a lot of generic super-hero comics out there, so I find it very refreshing to see Marvel’s “flagship” X-Men title have a distinct tone and voice.

    We won’t know for sure until Uncanny X-Men #1 comes out this week, but I’m thinking it’s going to have a more serious tone, so I’m glad the fallout of the Schism is more than just geographical in nature.

  36. I loved Schism,but thought Wolverine & The X-men was very disappointing. I didn’t like the humor and like one post said he was out of character.I kept expecting Archie and Jughead to show up in the next panel.Wolverine is a savage fighter/killer…hard to imagine him as a Headmaster at a school. Doubt I’ll pick up issue 2 or any after that. Still looking foward to Uncanny X-Men # 1 though.

  37. I almost bucked my pledge to never buy a Bachalo drawn book. But all it took was a thumb through at the comic shop and I said “NO WAY”. I had a feeling this would win POTW but it’s just the same old hyper-stylized, distracting art from Bachalo. Not my thing at all.

  38. isn’t Wolverine’s name in the title redundant, or is he no longer part of the X-Men?

    or, in Wolverine’s words: “did I take this job for a quick buck?”

  39. Part of the reason I liked this book so much was exactly what Conor brought up – Jason Aaron’s sense of humor. I bought this and sat on it for a few days cuz I wasn’t in the mood for more sturm-und-drangy post Schism brooding. So I was totally surprised to find a light-hearted romp through the first day of school 🙂 I’m definitely in for the first arc at least!

  40. This was Bachalo? Hmm… I usually don’t dig his art but I liked this for some reason. AS for the words… there were a lot of words. Like, A LOT. I think I’ll need to read it again to see if it bugs me the second time…

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