Three issues into this series and it is already one of my favorite X-Men runs. Granted, the conclusion of this issue essentially closes out a twenty-four hour period in the comic, but it’s been quite an adventure, with everything from Frankenstein monsters to living islands (Krakoa for you longtime X-fans) descending upon the school at the behest of the new Hellfire Club. The club is now ruled over by feisty twelve-year-old Kade Kilgore, who has a major mad-on against the school that is only going to get more intense as this series continues, if this issue is any indication.
The issue is less an all-out battle and more of a character piece featuring Quentin Quire (Kid Omega), who is given a distinct place at the Jean Grey School and a strong voice to shout out with. Jason Aaron uses three pages to set the background for Quire’s appearance before giving him a healthy chunk of the spotlight -- but only a chunk.
Aaron does not forget that this book is titled “Wolverine & the X-Men.” Wolverine gets star treatment throughout this issue, but is showcased for his determination and leadership as opposed to his hack and slash fighting style. Wolverine gets a spin in the spotlight and Rachel Grey has a bit of panel time, too. Aaron definitely has roles defined for everyone in this cast.
The art in this issue is considerably more chaotic and scattered than it has been to this point. That is completely derived from the fact that Chris Bachalo has a pair of pencilers -- Duncan Rouleau and Matteo Scalera -- assisting him on the art. Both artists try to ape Bachalo’s style to a degree, but neither succeeds in capturing its essence. The patchwork art fits nicely into the story of this issue where Krakoa has literally uprooted the X-Men’s world. There are crazy panels, wild angles, and bold line work everywhere. Several pages appear jam-packed with imagery, but further scrutiny reveals there are only a handful (or fewer) panels on the page.
This issue neatly wraps up the debut story and the first day for the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, but it leaves more than a few plotlines available for future development. Aaron has done a great job re-building the world around the X-Men (or this gaggle of them, at least) in Westchester, New York. I’m happy I’ve enrolled at Jean Grey. I just wish I could find the bookstore. . .