Though the philosophical differences that drove “Schism” ultimately did not compel me, I still remained interested in what the after effects would bring in the form of a splintered X-Men on opposite coasts. The first offering comes this week with Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s “Wolverine & The X-Men.” Though the book’s name leaves much to be desired (does Wolverine really have to be splashed across everything?) everything else here is pretty damn interesting.
This is a hefty first issue with 28 pages of story and three pages of really fun bonus material, plus three more pages of “what’s coming up” and yet all that really happens is a tour of the school for Xavier and then the New York Department of Education. But it’s one hell of a tour.
Jason Aaron has a lot of fun playing with Logan in his new role of headmaster, and it’s an ill-fitting role in a rather delicious way. The dynamic between Logan and Kitty is natural and works nicely as the base on which to build a whole lot of chaos, which it’s clear Aaron intends to build on intensely from here. While it’s hard to tell what characters Aaron is going to focus on beyond Logan and Kitty at this point -- there are a ton of students but we spend very little time with any of them -- it’s clear that wherever he goes with this it will be balls to the wall and take no prisoners in the best of ways.
Chris Bachalo, coloring his own pencils and being inked by a small army, is at his bold best here, playing on all his strengths and vacillating between gorgeously detailed double page spreads and intimate nine panel grids with equal skill. Bachalo draws the best Wolverine I’ve ever seen and it’s absolutely evident here as Logan hustles around the school equal parts excited and worried to death. Bachalo’s Wolverine is the same height as Kitty but twice as wide, which is exactly how it should be. Bachalo’s work with expression and body language is only matched by his insane detail work, all of it combining into a kinetic freewheeling insanity that is just controlled enough to make perfect sense. Bachalo’s risky unbridled style isn’t for everyone, but for those of us that love it, it’s a religion.
The pairing of Aaron and Bachalo is rather inspired and they prove to be a great match, each bold and seemingly unafraid to take risks and go new places. The result is something that feels like a modern and fresh blend of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's “New X-men” run and Scott Lobdell and Bachalo's “Generation X” run, which is not a bad thing. This books feels like it’s going to be a little weird, and that definitely is not a bad thing.
If I have to offer up a criticism, it’s that the book doesn’t feel in this first issue like it actually knows where it’s going. However, with creators like Aaron and Bachalo at the helm, I find myself oddly unconcerned. It’s nice to feel taken by the hand and led into a world that you already know intimately only to find it has been given a serious upgrade that could very well drive it into the future most excellently. I’m in.