Friday, October 28, 2011

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

First of all, no, this is not a comic adaptation of the great (but sadly underrated) cartoon "Wolverine and the X-Men," in spite of the same name. Even though both deal with Wolverine in a position of leadership and authority he admits he's not suited for, that's about as far as the similarities go.  This comic is an entity in its own right, and a surprisingly good one.

Following the events of "Schism," the X-Men are split into two. You know how Civil War split the Marvel Universe right down the middle? This isn't like that, so don't start thinking about Civil War, even though it did divide the X-Men and all associated mutants apart. So we have Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine, and feel free to make your own jokes about the Twilight "teams" at this point, because that joke's old now. This comic covers Wolverine, and his attempt to make a new school for mutants, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

Now, I was a little skeptical of this comic at first, but I decided to pick it up anyways. I'm glad I did. The art, I admit, I'm not too fond of, at least not the way they draw people. Now, it's certainly not the worst art in an X-Men comic I've seen (that distinction goes to Kaare Andrews for "Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis," for its depiction of Emma Frost alone), but it's an acquired taste. However, I began appreciating it more as soon as I saw the two-page spread of Wolverine's school. Its design is very original, but only vaguely hinted at up until the reveal. I won't try to describe it, lest I spoil the surprise, but it certainly beats any of the schools I've gone to.

The first issue covers the two headmasters, Logan and Kitty Pryde, as they try desperately to have the new school pass inspections from a super cynical pair of inspectors. Suffice to say, Murphy's Law ensues. In doing so, we get to see the various students, classes, and faculty; this is as much a tour for the new readers as it is for the inspectors. It also lays on a nice dosage of well-hidden foreshadowing, which may or may not include the running gag of exploding toilets.

This is where we get to the best part of the comic: the characters. Each snapshot shows us the various students and teachers throughout their day, and the writing does a fine job at showing us their personalities and how the new school works. Some personal favorites are when Logan activates the Danger Room inside the boys' bathroom to punish a pair of bullies, and the one panel of Quire locked in detention and complaining to himself, with the words "I'm a political prisoner" scrawled across the ground. Beast's scene is equally great, and seeing Husk trying to get her class to sit down and shut up is a treat as well.

Now, Wolverine is not exactly the type to be a teacher, and he knows it. That's why he's got the rest of his staff to help him. A glance over the list of characters shows that some of my favorites will be in this comic. Gambit, Rogue, Iceman, Armor, and even Toad have a place in these comics, and I look forward to seeing how each of them contribute.

I think we can safely say that everything going wrong in this comic means everything goes right for the reader. You'll feel Wolverine's struggle as he tries to stop everything he's built from crashing around him, providing a new level of humanity for the character. There's no concern when you see him in battle, knowing he's a badass with a healing factor, but dealing with bureaucracy and responsibility? That's a whole new playing field for him, and it shows in the most entertaining way.

I don't know how Cyclops is doing with the half he got in the divorce, but going by this comic, I'm all for Team Wolverine. I wasn't expecting to follow this comic when I picked it up, but I think it just changed my mind.

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