Wolverine & The X-Men #18
Written by Jason Aaron
Pencils by Jorge Molina
Inks by Norman Lee
Colors by Morry Hollowell & Rachel Rosenberg
Review by Joey Braccino
During the Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover, Wolverine & The X-Men lost its way a bit. When this series debuted, it was quickly evident that Jason Aaron was weaving a complicated in-book continuity that mixed together elements from Grant Morrison’s seminal New X-Men run, the dense Shi’Ar/Galactic Marvel mythos, and his own idiosyncratic creations (Kade Kilgore and the Young Hellfire Club). All the while, Aaron imbued the series with witty pop sensibilities and irony as well as a sense of reverence to the earlier “School Years” of the X-Universe.
Finally, Aaron has brought that tenor back to Wolverine & The X-Men with issue #18. Yes, last issue’s Doop-tastic adventure was funny and offbeat, but this issue really returns the series to its original mission of representing adolescence and seclusion metaphorically through the next generation of mutants.
This action of this issue runs concurrently with the final battle of Avengers Vs. X-Men. Nevertheless, the actual crossover between the action is tangential at best; instead, Aaron uses the battle with the Phoenix and the (::SPOILERS FOR AVX::) death of Professor X to lend emotional resonance to the Jean Grey School as it enters its second year. Ultimately, this issue shifts the focus of Wolverine & the X-Men back to the children (“Never let them close your school… Someday, those kids wills save us all”).
I won’t go into too much of the action here, because this issue is absolutely recommended reading. There’s the first ever Jean Grey Dance. There’s a riff on the now classic Hulk/Thor interaction from Marvel’s The Avengers. And there’s some of Jason Aaron’s trademark characterization for lead characters like Quentin Quire, Idie, and Broo. There are some insane developments that skew relationships and anticipate upcoming conflicts for the second year, especially regarding The Young Hellfire Club, Husk, and the aforementioned Quire, Idie, and Broo. Any of those “A-List” characters? Nope. And that’s why this book suddenly became exciting again!
Jorge Molina’s pencils have greatly improved since his first issue on Wolverine & The X-Men a few months ago. Where his figures were once slightly distorted in the more constricted panels, he now demonstrates a cinematic approach to lay-outs and designs similar to (dare I say) Olivier “Best in the World’ Coipel. Molina’s work isn’t as naturalistic as Coipel’s—there are still some anime eyes here and there—but it is just as kinetic and perfect in scope and feel. Inker Norman Lee’s fine lines accent Molina’s fine pencils rather than overwhelm them, and Hollowell and Rosenberg’s colors exude energy in every panel. Beautiful.
Buy this book. Period. This review is purposely plot-lite because there are far too many significant developments—regarding ongoing themes as well as the in-book continuity—to discuss in a comic book review. The art is great; the writing is superb—just get this book already! Second year starts next issue! Jump on now!