It’s the penultimate issue of Jason Aaron’s W&XM and the focus of the story is not Wolverine, or Idie, or Quentin Quire or Storm or even Doop, it’s on Toad. Freaking Toad! Toad has been the Janitor of the Jean Grey School since #1, and a reliable supporting comedic presence, but here he takes centre-stage, and it works surprisingly well, as Aaron gives poor old Mortimer Toynbee some dignity and sympathy… before ripping that away and making him a villain again.
This issue made me feel emotions about Toad, which means a) it was awesome and b) we should never speak of it again (I’m joking here). The issue begins with Toad being fired from his position as Janitor due to his betrayal of the school during the Hellfire Academy arc. The X-Men realise they are being harsh, because after all, he did turn back around to their side in the end, but still, it’s Toad, and he’s fired. On his way out, he is met by Husk. We find out that Husk’s swing into craziness is the result of a secondary mutation, and that every time she changes her body, her mind now changes as well. This means that she, unlike Toad, as been forgiven for her betrayal, and also that she has forgotten her romantic relationship with him, which is all kinds of tragic. Husk tells Toad that there must be some reason she fell for him, and that she still wants to get to know him, so they agree to meet for coffee later to talk.
But before this can happen, the X-Men are called into action when Max Frankenstein and Manuel Enrique, the two Hellfire Club kids they’ve enrolled in the school escape and send a bunch of robots to attack Westchester and cover their escape. I’m a big fan of these new (although they aren’t exactly that new any more) Hellfire Kids and I loved how their plans to escape were screwed because neither of them could drive yet. They might be evil geniuses, but they are still children. Toad shows up, and they think he’s there to stop them, but he isn’t. He challenges Manuel to shoot him, but when he can’t, Toad attacks him, leaves him for the X-Men to find and heads off with Max Frankenstein, missing his date with Husk, who even in the midst of robo-carnage, still goes to the coffee shop.
Toad’s reasons for leaving are also pretty darn sad, he’s afraid that if Husk gets to know him again, she’ll see him for what he truly is, a villain. Manuel is telling this to Husk, who is the new JGS Guidance Counselor, and whilst she starts crying, she soon rips off her skin and just… forgets. Man, it’s just sad all round. The issue ends with Iceman and Wolverine realising that it’s not easy being the Janitor, so to compound it all, they never should have fired Toad in the first place! I can’t believe this issue made me care about Toad, but it’s great that it did. I wonder where he’ll return? Amazing? Or in Latour’s run on this book? Hmm.
Pepe Larraz and Todd Nauck both deliver strong art here, but as usual, I’m not a fan of two different artists drawing the same comic without a good reason (like flashbacks or whatever). It is always awesome to get some Nauck are though, he should have been on this title sooner. Only 1 more issue of this title (which is Marvel’s highest-numbered book if you can believe that), I’m sad to see it go, but it is ending well for sure.