Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool;
This month’s Wolverine and the X-men (#15 for those keeping score at home) is way better than it has any business being. Why is that you may wonder. It’s not that the book SHOULD be bad, no books should be bad (52 aside of course). It’s just that this is one of those issues between issues. As the Marvel Universe prepares to unclench following the end of AvX, there’s not a whole lot these characters can do except wait in the wings for whatever fiery, red-headed ending comes howling out of space.
Fans who dislike cross-over events (grown-ups) often cite issues exactly like this one as being part of the problem. Creator driven storylines have to take a back seat while the marketing men do their wild capitalist dance of victory at another successful property mashup. Then who the hell does Jason Aaron think he is writing a comic that really amounts to 20 pages (oh god, 20 pages? Really? I need to recount that) of characters walking around chatting in a way so well that we forget we’re supposed to be annoyed by comics like this.
Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine and the X-men has made me reexamine everything I believe about everything. For instance upon viewing the man’s person, (big, bald, bearded, the comic book writer hat trick) I assumed that he was a man’s man, in the Ennis mode of tough guys comics for tough guys who like tough guys. Reading his Scalped or PunisherMAX series also give the impression that he is a rough and tumble character who would probably put your head through a car window or come at you with the fury of an Amish hitman. If that’s true and he’s so scary then how come Wolverine and the X-men is so fun? And cute! How can this be?
Bachalo may be missing from the art on this issue but Jorge Molina is no slouch and is able to capture the myriad of emotions expressed by the myriad of different characters currently walking the halls of the Jean Grey School. Molina makes Krakoa into a big, cuddly sweetheart , Toad into a giddy schoolboy and Kid Gladiator the most internally confused, child of a bad ass since Damian Wayne came stabbing and taunting his way into existence.
Since this is a Marvel “event” issue there needs to be a scene with Iron Man looking at screens with his arms akimbo while formulating a battle plan, preferably with Reed Richards or Hank Pym, but in a pinch Hank McCoy will do. So that scene is gotten through right away in the beginning, but not before Broo cements his status as most adorable X-student in the mansion with his request to meet Nova, his favorite super hero, as a reward for doing the heavy mental lifting in a room full of big brains.
The rest of the issue feels almost like a tour of the grounds as we get to see essentially every character who’s graced the halls since the school opened and more, now that Utopia’s residents have arrived. We get bamfs, Krakoa, Deathlok, Evan, Quentin, Toad, Idie, Angel, and Kid Gladiator’s glowing tears of goodbye. Some scenes are brief little moments of fun like Dust meeting Krakoa or Detahlok, while others play out slightly longer like Husk’s subterranean date with Toad or Professor X squaring off with Quentin.
These scenes are brilliantly executed and done with such a sensitive, knowing, and genuinely funny voice it’s hard to believe that the same mind who made Bullseye scary again is behind it. This issue has all the hallmarks of a “things are going to change” precursor, right down to the sad photo of the old team on the wall. Kid Gladiator leaves, his Warbird stays, Angel graduates, students argue, Wolverine drinks and everyone heads off to whatever ending market analysts predict will engender the biggest fourth quarter sales bump. But leave such crass commercial thinking for the rest of your Wednesday haul because Wolverine and the X-men remains it’s own book, with enough charm, wit and wisdom to cool even a Phoenix flame. (No, probably not, but still it’s a nice image)