The Hellfire Saga kicks off properly in this issue, and what a blast it is. Jason Aaron focuses pretty much all of this issue on the Hellfire Academy (there’s one short scene showing Wolverine and some other X-Men searching for the school) and you could tell he was having a lot of fun writing this evil mirror of the Jean Grey School. Each of the classes was hilarious, each of the villains cast of teachers was a brilliant choice, and there were even a few great ‘meta’ jokes in there, like the mention of ‘fridging’.
It’s crazy how in the same week Aaron can write Thor, which is serious and epic and hardcore, and this book, which, whilst still having high stakes, has a lot of humour in it. He’s a really versatile writer. I loved the return of the Siege Perilous, and how it was used to swerve us as readers, we are led to believe that the weakling, Snot, has been killed by the Hellfire Club. But nope, he’s been put through the Siege and is now a bad-ass muscle-bound villain. It was also cool how the focus of this issue was on Quentin Quire, his arc throughout this whole series has been a sort of unwilling redemption, and whilst he’s probably only doing the right thing because he fancies Idie, it’s still good to see him be a hero.
And once again, Aaron’s use of the new, teenaged Hellfire Club was fantastic and logical. I love how, for Kade Kilgore, everything comes down to business. He wants to make money by selling Sentinels, so he has a school to train new mutant villains in order to increase the fear of mutants, and then sell more Sentinels. It’s very clever and it makes a hell of a lot more sense than most super-villain plots. Nick Bradshaw returns on art duties with this issue, and he does his usual fantastic job, his style is just an amazing fit for the stone of Wolverine & The X-Men, he can do the funny stuff and he can do the more serious elements too. This is the story that Aaron has been building up to for 30 issues now. We already knew who the heroes are, and now we have a full picture of the villains, let’s get to the showdown!