Wolverine & The X-Men #14
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jorge Molina
Inks & Color by Norman Lee & Morry Hollowell
Review by Joey Braccino
As the cover suggests, in this issue of Wolverine & The X-Men, Kitty Pryde goes on a date with a Phoenixed-up Colossus! And, as is often the case with any four-colored-foray in to super-spandex romance, hilarity ensues. Still, much like last issue, this week’s entry in Jason Aaron’s W&tXM series merely satisfies, rather than dazzles. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem if the stretch of issues prior to the Avengers Vs. X-Men tie-ins weren’t as creative and engaging as they were.
Jason Aaron puts together an entertaining issue, framing the entire story around a dinner date between Headmistress Kitty Pryde and Phoenix Five powerhouse Colossus. Personally, I’m a huge Kitty-Colossus ‘shipper. Their relationship was the emotional core of Joss Whedon’s classic run on Astonishing X-Men, and I was hoping that this issue would perhaps bring the two back together after X-Men: Schism (also by Jason Aaron) abruptly tore the two apart.
(Spoilers: I was wrong)
There are also some great moments with the Jean Grey school faculty. Jason Aaron infuses the book with humor and high stakes—mainly through characters like Doop, Toad, and Deathlok—but overall it seems like Aaron and his AvX co-writers are fumbling the ball when it comes to painting the Phoenix Five (and the greater X-Men) as the misguided bad guys of the crossover. I understand that the Five are ticking time-bombs of Fire-Incarnate-Super-Destruction, but their current efforts to remake the world into a peaceful place for humans and mutants alike seems to be working out for everyone except for the Avengers. In fact, in the context of the crossover itself, everyone in the world is getting ample food, power, and shelter, but the Avengers are still picking fights with the X-Men anyway because… well, because they’re the Avengers and they have to be right all the time, right?
In this issue of W&tXM, Iceman tries to chat with Cyclops about their treatment of the Avengers. Cyclops interrupts him and rattles off his To-Do List, which includes saving an endangered species of Tiger, curing children of birth defects, and halting global warming. In response, Iceman returns to the Jean Grey School and says he realized how terribly wrong they were to help Cyclops in the first place. It just seems imbalanced, and X-Fans—myself included—are getting the short end of the stick here. Why aren’t we questioning the Avengers and their “Our Way or the Highway” understanding of super-justice? Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men is doing a great job of depicting the nuances of the Phoenix Five and their struggle with their newfound power, while also maintaining that they are, inherently, heroic people. X-Fans are better off reading that series than Wolverine & The X-Men or X-Men Legacy, both of which feature the X-Men slowly crumbling from inside out for poorly-developed reasons…
Jorge Molina takes over art duties this issue, and he’ll remain on the series through the end of the AvX tie-ins. Aside from the very first panel of the issue, the artwork in this issue is superb. It’s not as stylized as Chris Bachalo or Nick Bradshaw’s work on the series, but in it juggles the multiple scenes and volatile emotions in a realistic, clear manner. There are a couple of expansive spreads that are really beautiful, including the last panel of the issue and a sequence in which Colossus parts the sea for Kitty.
Read it if you’ve been following along, but it’s becoming harder and harder to call this series a must-read since the Avengers Vs. X-Men series entered Act II. The characterization is erratic regarding the Phoenix Five, and the overall mission of the book (re-imagining the School for Gifted Youngsters premise) has been all but lost in recent issues. Aaron characterizes Kitty and Colossus’ relationship well, and it evokes an emotional response by the end, but the arc of the issue is muddled by the need to paint the Phoenix Five (Colossus included) as slow-burning villains. Disappointing. I hope that Wolverine & The X-Men finds its footing again once this crossover ends, because it was once one of the best books on the stands.