Tag Archive: Wolverine and the X-Men

Review by C.J. Bunce
If you happened to miss this year’s X-Men event from Marvel Comics, X-Men: Schism, now is a good time to get caught up.  The mini-series was released in a compilation edition Wednesday at comic stores and is available elsewhere January 11.  It’s also available at a discount for pre-order online.  Noteworthy at a minimum for this limited series is that it serves as the lead-in to the current X-Men storyline and main ongoing Marvel X-Men titles Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men.  “Marvel Architect” writer Jason Aaron created the events that culminate in the break-up of the X-Men into two teams.  The new hardcover collected edition includes Schism Issues #1-5, Generation Hope Issues #10-11, and X-Men: Regenesis, the book where each mutant chooses sides.  Unique to this series, several top artists participated in the complete work, with Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Alan Davis and Adam Kubert each contributing an issue, among others.  Ultimately, like a lot of other series, it’s the lack of visual continuity that causes the entire work to slightly suffer, but ultimately Schism is a tight piece of storytelling and individual issues of the series are notable for the artwork, particularly Schism Issues #2 and 3, by Cho and Acuna.
The battle in the storyline at first appears to be between a growing sense of anti-mutant hatred around the world and the almost arrogant mutants led by Scott Summers aka Cyclops, who at first seems to be toting co-leader Logan aka Wolverine along for the ride.  Ultimately the battle turns to X-Man versus X-Man.  Writer Aaron fans the flames of discontent growing from the ongoing arguments over the years between the two leaders, prompting each to dig their heels in as they clash on how to respond to the anti-mutant sentiments by the non-mutant population.  But the surprising puppetmaster behind the demise of the X-Men unity is a mutant himself, young, annoying, too big and rich for his own good, Kade Kilgore.  Kilgore throws his own father from a plane and leads a group of psychopath children in his own strange arms deal, ensuring that he is the supplier to the world of 1980s-ish strategic defense initiative-type humanoid, robotic, giant automatons called sentinels.  These sentinels serve as the non-mutant population’s defensive shield against the mutants, now numbering only a few hundred, and living off the coast of San Francisco in an island called Utopia.  Kilgore creates the conflict, with the successful result of being able to benefit financially from it.
Ultimately the question the X-Men must face is whether to use children mutants to defend all mutants against the attack by the sentinels.  Wolverine says children should not be used as soldiers under any circumstance.  Cyclops believes the circumstances are too dire, and if he doesn’t use the children and their powers there may be no mutants left to defend.  Mirroring this storyline is the fact that Kilgore is leading his own band of children to attack and attempt to destroy the X-Men.
Although each of Summers and Logan gets ample time to lay out their positions, the reader can’t help but find it hard to support Summers, who comes off as arrogant, isolationist, and dangerous, versus Logan’s concern for not only mutants, but the rest of the planet and the overall big picture of Earth’s future.  Behind this Aaron hints at this result the culmination of the never-ending fallout from each X-Man’s care for the late Jane Grey aka Phoenix, and it seems these two will never be able to get along.  In the final panel Logan arrives at a destroyed Xavier School for the Gifted, and Summers remains at Utopia, paranoid, maybe rightly so, and locked into the idea that mutants need protected from the rest of the world.  In the last part, X-Men: Regenesis, a strange thing occurs, as Wolverine seems to get the short end of the stick, with the majority of the big name X-Men sticking with Scott Summers.  Yet, after Schism, the stronger and more entertaining series follows Wolverine in Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men title, and Summers’ ongoing storyline in Uncanny X-Men unfortunately just doesn’t carry the same spark.  Added plus to look for: the five-image cover gallery by Frank Cho, one of his best superhero works to date.  X-Men: Schism, the hardcover compilation, retails for $24.99.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Have you ever been handed something you weren’t immediately interested in, and then realized it was just what the doctor ordered?  For me this week it was Wolverine and the X-Men #1, written by Jason Aaron (actually Marvel Comics calls him a Marvel architect) and pencils and colors by Chris Bachalo.

Pencils and colors by the same guy?  What a good idea.  At least here it worked really well.  In fact I only picked up this book because I ran into the writer at a local Halloween party and I thought the cover art reminded me of Howard Chaykin and the color work was striking.

I also have been a DC Comics fan since high school and was always looking for a good entry point into the Marvel Universe characters.  My issue with picking up random issues over the years was the ongoing storyline and lack of standalone stories.  I understood there was this ongoing X-Men story that would sometimes intersect with an Avengers story, but if I didn’t read every issue I just couldn’t get involved and keep up.  Finally, Wolverine and the X-Men may be that entry point.

I am also a fan of the storytelling technique used by Joss Whedon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Use a close-knit group of the the younger set, put them in fantastical situations, keep the ongoing storyline to a minimum and focus on growing the key team of characters.  That technique works here, too.

Wolverine and the X-Men starts at a very appropriate beginning point, the first day of school at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, a school for mutants named after former X-Men member, Jean Grey/Phoenix.  Jason Aaron’s story reads like a teleplay, which really works for a TV watcher like me.  My only real exposure to the X-Men, aside from reading the Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in the aisle at Target when I was a kid, is in the X-Men movies.  What I glean from the backstory that is nicely tucked into this issue is that Jean Grey, killed in the movies, must be dead in this universe, too.  I assume from her character she’ll be back again someday.  Some recent event called the Schism was perpetrated by some genius brat 12-year-old kid named Kade Kilgore, and I take it that this Schism caused us to be in this new universe of stories starting us with this series at Issue #1.

Wolverine/Logan has started his own school for mutants, with key staff positions held by Kitty Pryde and the furry blue Beast.  He gets some advice from Professor Xavier, who founded the original, famous school for mutants.

The bulk of the story takes place on the first day of school, and Logan and Kitty must take representatives of the board of education on a tour, seeking their needed approval.  The auditor is a fairly stereotypical busybody and Logan and Kitty can do nothing right for her.  Murphy’s Law reins supreme here and the book is chock full of disaster after disaster.

Having recently emerged from New 52 DC Comics series like The Flash and Justice League where nothing really happens over the course of an issue, this book is full of several “different” scenes and you get the feel that you got your money’s worth here.  Part of that is the relation between writer and artist no doubt.  One page includes a quickly but well-told 12-panel conversation that packs in content.  Bachalo’s pencil style and color work is straight-forward yet he clearly has his own style.  His characters have a similar look, but it is a cool look.  Wolverine looks like a scruffy grump, the visitor from the board of education looks simultaneously annoyed and annoying.  Not being that familiar with Marvel Universe details of late, I scanned the Direct Current Previews and learned Aaron has done plenty of Wolverine work, including the Schism story that led to this new series.  His familiarity with Wolverine’s character comes across nicely in this issue.

One great scene involves a training room for mutants called the Danger Room, which at the old Xavier school was apparently a known, distinct room.  At the Jean Grey school apparently the Danger Room can be anywhere and in this issue that anywhere is the boys bathroom, where unsuspecting boys hanging out get to experience what that means, including an apparent toilet seat on fire.  The unlimited potential for future issues is evident, both with this Danger Room concept but also with an endless cast of mutants, including the janitor named Toad, who keeps complaining that he hasn’t been assigned a bed yet at the school.  Don’t miss out on the class list, faculty list and other extras at the end.  Good stuff.

We are also given a taste of the future, as an unexpected student arrives–Warbird–and his bodyguard, royalty who believes he is too good for everyone else.  This could be anyone’s junior high or high school, and you hope that this kind of story finds its wider audience as there is plenty of humor and good character development here to appeal to kids and adults.

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