Or – “People Keep Telling Me This Is Good…”
I’m always fascinated by the weird things that comic fans say. I was recently told that I HAD to pick up this book because, and I quote, “It’s X-Men and it’s finally good again!” The thought process seemed to be that if I wasn’t reading X-Men, it was only because I didn’t REALIZE that the titles were in an upswing, and that there was no possible way that I wouldn’t want to jump onboard this title if it was in any way readable. ReGenesis has seemed to be just another sales gimmick to me, but I figured, at the very least, it was worth giving the new paradigm a look…
WOLVERINE & X-MEN #3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencilers: Chris Bachal0/Duncan Rouleau/Matteo Scalera
Inkers: Tim Townsend/Jaime Mendoze/Al Vey/Mark Irwin/Victor Olazaba/Duncan Rouleau/Matteo Scalera
Colorists: Chris Bachalo & Jason Keith
Letterer: Rob Steen
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Previously, in Wolverine & The X-Men: A rift in the X-Men has once again led to different teams of mutants with different agendas and different leadership. This branch of the team has returned to Westchester, the X-Men’s ancestral home, under the leadership of James “Wolverine” Howlett. With the assistance of some of the most tenured X-Men, Wolverine has chosen to return the concept to that of a school, and has named it for Jean Grey, the X-Men’s ceremonial martyr. Will the ultimate loner/samurai/ninja/biker hero be able to get it together and play headmaster, or are we just waiting for this new school to blow up like the last?(Actually, can’t it be both?)
AN ART TEAM THAT OUTNUMBERS THE SUPER-TEAM…
The cover art struck me as quite attractive, which is why the sight of the first page, with its not-quite-successful aping of the art of Chris Bachalo, bugged me so much. Bachalo himself has the ability to make anyone look like a pre-teen with a huge head, and the sight of Captain America and Wolverine in the prologue struck all the wrong notes for me (especially Cap’s bucket helmet and huge chinstrap.) Still, there’s a ray of hope here, as their discussion lampshades the fact that Quentin Quire is a hugely dangerous sociopath, and even advises that Captain America and the Avengers will be ready to step in should Wolverine’s stewardship of Kid Omega fall apart. Cut to the present, as the living island Krakoa has attacked the Jean Grey School and made mincemeat of the campus, while another villain has transformed the state inspectors into monsters. It’s a quick story, with some nice dialogue (Quire’s absolute dismay that his fellow students don’t already know and fear him is priceless) and even the presence of an alien called “Kid Gladiator” can’t kill the infectious fun.
…BUT THEN, THEY SURPRISE ME.
The Beast is here, Wolverine is here, Kitty Pryde is here, and there are myriad references to Claremont-era Shi’ar storylines, but all of this coalesces into something entirely different as the team struggles with their attackers just long enough for Quentin Quire to make his move. One telepathic conversation later, and Jason Aaron has turned the whole story on it’s head, and impressed the hell out of me. I’m not gonna ruin the fun for anybody who hasn’t read the issue, but it was a moment that makes perfect sense AND changes the nature of this X-Men team immediately. The rest of the issue proceeds organically from that moment, and even the inconsistent attempts to ape a single artist can’t torpedo it. There’s even a nice Maggott reference, which makes me think that this book is aimed at lapsed X-Men fans of Rodrigo’s vintage as much as lapsed fans of my own, and to tell the truth, it might successfully be able to serve both groups.
THE VERDICT: AN INTRIGUING START.
I expected that this book would be well-done after all the people I’ve had recommend it to me, but what I didn’t expect was to like Quentin Quire. Or, for that matter, to like Wolverine shoe-horned into a leadership role… But both decisions work well here, and Jason Aaron does great work with all the supporting cast, even in the quick-hits that come in and around the big battle. Had the art been more consistent (or, to be honest, had it been inconsistent in a different style), this one would have been a must-have issue for me. I’m not a particular fan of Chris Bachalo on superhero titles, though I loved him on Shade, The Changing Man, back in the day, and having half a dozen people ape his style takes a lot away from the storytelling in this issue. In the final analysis, though, Wolverine & The X-Men #3 does the trick for me, living up to the hype and earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Where is Professor X in all this ReGenesizing?