Wolverine & The X-Men #1 - 'Welcome To The X-Men! Now Die!' - Aaron, Bachalo and Townsend
Story - Surprising nobody, this book was awesome. Ever since this book was announced, I've been at the edge of my seat in anticipation. Jason Aaron, writing a X-Men book featuring a team led by Wolverine? How could it not be one of the best comics out there? I was expecting big things, and this issue didn't disappointed, and hell, it even exceeded my expectations in how fun and crazy it all was.
Of course, I did have some reservations, I think we all thought, in the back of our minds, that the idea of Wolverine being the headmaster of a School is a dumb idea. But Jason Aaron recognises that too. This is a crazy idea. Several characters comment on how this is pretty absurd. Aaron's response is to go; 'yeah, it's crazy, but crazy is good!'
This issue reminds me of some kind of perfect meld of the classic Claremont-era X-Men with the best of Morrison, Whedon and Fraction's runs, but of course with plenty of Aaron's own twist on things. This book at once feels like a return to the past of the X-Men, what with them being back at a School, yet also a leap to the future. The Jean Grey Academy is nothing like Xavier's, it's fresh, it's new and it's exciting. Reading this book I feel like literally anything could happen, and it does.
This issue is pretty much all set-up for the series to come, as Wolverine and Shadowcat take the Government Inspectors on a tour of the school, but that in no ways holds it back from being incredibly enjoyable. Aaron stuffs every page with cool stuff, whether it's an awesome conversation between Wolverine and Professor Xavier, or the sight of Doop as school secretary, or a Danger Room toilet or the introduction of new character Kid Gladiator or a bunch of weird Nightcrawler gremlins. This school really comes alive in the way it hasn't since Morrison's run, and throughout the whole issue I had such a grin on my face. After a few years of grim, species on the brink stories for the X-Men, this book has brought the fun back. Even the back-matter was hilarious, the list of classes was sublime, Sex Ed with Remy LeBeau!
That's not to say there isn't serious stuff going on, the behind-the-scenes-villain of Schism, Kade Kilgore shows up to threaten Wolverine. I imagine that this will be a running plot-line for the series, and I can't wait to see how it develops, and how it clashes with Wolverine's new ideology, how is he supposed to teach and raise kids to not be killers, when his current nemesis is a 12-year-old?
At the end of the issue, the sense of chaos bubbles up and the ground beneath the school explodes into some kind of rock monster. It's crazy, but it makes sense and it's the perfect way to end the issue. I can't wait to see how Wolverine and his team will take on this monster, and how the heck they're going to get permission to keep the school going. Simply put, this is one of the most fun comics I've read in a long time, Aaron has distilled the essence of everything that makes the X-Men great, spiked it with his own brand of southern genius Moonshine and served up a fantastic cocktail of comics awesomeness. Let's just hope Uncanny X-Men #1 is as good, because Wolverine & The X-Men has set the bar incredibly high.
Art - Chris Bachalo's art is one of those 'love it or hate it' kind of deals, but I like his work, and think he's a perfect fit for this book. His art has that same chaotic streak as Aaron's script, it's free-flowing and expressive. This is not your typical superhero team-book, and so it doesn't need your typical superhero artist, and for that Bachalo is a brilliant fit. I loved the two-page spread of the new school in particular, it just looked awesome.
Best Line - 'Wish me luck, Jeannie'