Halfway through "The Hellfire Saga," "Wolverine and the X-Men" #33 is at the big turning point courtesy Jason Aaron, Nick Bradshaw and Walden Wong. The parody that was so prevalent in the first chapter has been entirely tossed to one side, in favor of a big battle interspersed with some great little character moments. And you know what? It works.
Quentin Quire and Toad versus the entire Hellfire Club could have been a ridiculous sequence, and Aaron leaves the teasing and joking (mostly) behind in favor of playing it straight. None of their victories feel particularly out of left-field, and it's also a nice reminder that while Toad is mostly a joke these days, it is possible to take the character and turn him into a threat. In terms of a sheer physicality, this issue that's full of fight scenes moves at a good pace and entertains the whole way through.
More importantly, it's about the big decisions that several characters make. Idie's turning point comes this month, when she decides to what lengths she'll go in order to get revenge. It's well paced and it ultimately feels like the right choice for both Aaron and the character. Toad's moment of truth also comes this month, and while his story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, it's still one that possesses a great deal of dignity. There are also some fun little character moments that might sneak up, like Dog Logan's interactions with both Quentin and Sabretooth, or the carefully laid plot point with one character that's been around since the initial "Wolverine and the X-Men" storyline that's finally getting triggered.
Bradshaw's pencils look great as ever. His storytelling abilities are good; I like that he can go from a 12-panel page to one with a massive splash and an inset, and the flow feels natural and easy to follow. There's some good physical comedy handled by Bradshaw here, like the one panel of the Bamfs driving the car that sells the joke instantly, or even the placement of the little jaunty hats that the new Hellions are all wearing and how it's as much a retro fashion statement as it is a costume. Best of all, though, is that these are fight scenes that often have a jumble of characters piling on, and Bradshaw can handle it quite well. These are scenes that are supposed to come across as chaotic and crazy, and Bradshaw gets that across but in a way that the reader can still easily follow.
"Wolverine and the X-Men" #33 is another enjoyable installment in the series, which feels like it's starting to tie off a lot of plot threads since the series' inception. Aaron and company doing just that -- clearing the decks -- can mean a whole new set of stories and ideas to come in soon. All in all, a lot of fun.