The death of Wolverine left a hole at the Jean Grey School’s hearts and in their staffing. Fortunately, your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is on the case! Your Major Spoilers review of Spider-Man And The X-Men #1 awaits!
Previously in Spider-Man And The X-Men: So, if you’ve been living under a rock, the mutant known as Wolverine is dead. His healing power was shut off by a Deus Ex Machina and now his various children and pretenders are trying to pick up his super-powered torch. Unfortunately, he was more than just a snappy dresser in yellow spandex and a super-spy samurai immortal soldier. No, Wolverine was also headmaster of the Jean Grey School, a haven for young mutants who want to learn how to survive in a world where they are hated and feared, and one of Logan’s last wishes was that his old friend Spider-Man come to the school and teach the kids a lesson about power and responsibility. Unfortunately, there’s another piece of unfinished business, as well…
A BAD IDEA
There are those who say that corporate-owned comics suck, and they definitely have their point. This issue, for instance, begins with a Spider-Man who is flighty, gabby and totally out-of-his element irritating Storm as they approach the Jean Grey School. She indicates that she doesn’t like him which, after decades of stories, seems to come out of nowhere. Showing up in the middle of a battle with Unus, Spider-Man continues to make an ass of himself, then easily defeats the villain while half a dozen X-Men stand by idly and watch. While his sparring with The Beast is nice, even his Iceman thinks that Spidey is a jerk in this issue, and their discussions of whether he has any right to try to teach mutant children becomes a sticking point early on. I get what the writers are going for here, and it makes for some funny dialogue, but it’s a plot that doesn’t feel like it belongs in either the modern Spider-Man or X-Men era. When he starts teaching his class (a group of hard-luck students including Rockslide and Hellion), Spider-Man is on the lookout for anything suspicious, and his teaching style is… just dumb. Given that Spider-Man held a job as a history teacher not that long ago, it feels awkward, and the students are handled as one-dimensional school-haters, which seems unusual for the likes of Ernst and Glob Herman. Of course, they’re in this class for a reason: Wolverine wanted Spider-Man to help him flush out a mutant mole in the school.
A REALLY BAD IDEA
Not an ACTUAL mutant mole. A metaphorical mole, who seems to have malicious-but-mysterious intent. It’s a weird plot point, as Wolverine doesn’t seem like the type to be sneaky when students lives might be at stake, but I can work with that. When he takes the kids on a field trip to the museum, Spider-Man encounters the team of Sauron (not THAT Sauron) and Stegron, dinosaur-men who want to bring the world to a new era of saurian dominance, and even though he has a small army of superhumans at his disposal, Spider-Man is still taken out by the bottom of his villain roster and a Neal Adams character. The art throughout this issue is inconsistent, sliding back and forth from “good Todd Nauck” to “lumpy Tom Grummet”, and while Stegron looks amazing, regular X-Men cast members like Ernst and The Beast are hard to recognize. The cliffhanger is telegraphed heavily, which isn’t a huge sin, but even as the story ends, the kids continue being overtly jerks to Spider-Man, which makes it hard for me not to think that the mutants are being big jerks to the nicest guy in the Marvel Universe. All in all, the story pushes hard to make ‘Spider-Man as teacher’ seem like a terrible idea, even to the point of absurdity, which again, wouldn’t be such a problem if teaching weren’t one of his actual JOBS. Wolverine And The X-Men was a quirky, quieter X-title, one which took a cast with personality and played with them in ways we hadn’t seen before. This book, as it’s replacement, feels like it WANTS to do that, but can’t get past the obvious bits and jokes that the creators want to make sure get play.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FUN-ISH BUT UTTERLY FLIPPANT
All in all, in a month where there are seven Spider-titles on sale, featuring dozens of Spider-characters, this will not be remembered as one of the Web-head’s cooler or more meaningful adventures. That said, there is still potential with the mole subplot, and seeing if Spider-Man can win the kids respect might make for a cool story for someone who’s really invested in either franchise. For me, as a casual reader of both properties, Spider-Man and The X-Men #1 is trying too hard, and the good bits (like Spider-Man’s amusing blase interaction with the Toad) get lumped in with a lot of loud and less-successful bits, and the inconsistent art makes even the natural team-up of dinosaur mean feel less awesome, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not entirely a bad comic book, but it’s certainly not a great one and it is not for me…