Friday, January 13, 2012

Wolverine & the X-Men #4

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Company: Marvel Comics

I fear that Wolverine & the X-Men may be one of those books that I go back and forth on. One moment I like it, the next there are beats and moments that make me want to shoot laser beams out of my eyes and destroy the Earth...Or maybe just Krakoa. That may be overstating the hatred a bit much, but it properly captures the mood swings that this book injects. This fourth issue however was just what the doctor ordered.

It seems to me that lately we have been seeing the occasional return to a more upbeat style of story. Not outright See No Evil, Hear No Evil, slapstick or anything, but it seems as if not every single issue has to be entirely about murder or the angst of being alive and the need to not be a superhero. Humor and comedy and stories that put a smile on your face aren't exactly commonplace yet, but they are out there. This is a good thing. Not everything needs to be about revenge or a hero falling from grace. This issue, which oddly enough feels like an addendum issue to what has been going on in Uncanny X-Force, skates a fine line between both humor and darkness in a way that really strikes a chord. The possibility of death and destruction of the world is touched on with the inclusion of Teenage Apocalypse to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, as well as in the situation with Warren Worthington's new status quo. What's interesting is that at the same time, the humor of both situations is explored, which makes the events pop even more.

Aaron may be another writer who may just excel at writing team books instead of one-off character titles, as I always found his Wolverine and Ghost Rider books to be lackluster. Here though, the camaraderie and teamwork that he displays in his very varied cast of characters is one of the book's strongest aspects, and more importantly, it feels very X-Men because he is taking the characters seriously. He's also making you give a damn about characters like Quentin Quire and Broo (a Brood student) and a whole host of other kids that could have easily been delegated to background fodder. That coupled with a keen handle on Kitty Pryde (better than what Whedon was doing with her) and many other teachers and guest professors, like Deathlok, that are there predicting the possible futures of the students, and you have a healthy amount of entertainment.

On the art side of things, Nick Bradshaw is a talented draftsman. The characters feel very animated and he has a great sense for clear storytelling. I can imagine that many people will prefer his take on the book to what Chris Bachalo had previously done, even though Bachalo's more frenetic stylings seem to fit the nature of the book a bit better. One thing about Bradshaw's style that is interesting, is that it is heavily influenced by Art Adams, almost to the point where when I first picked the book up, I had thought Adams was the one who drew it. I do like Bradshaw's ability to capture emotion in his character's faces and that he takes the time to focus on the backgrounds with as much detail as he does.

In reality, this outing of Wolverine and the X-Men feels a lot like an episode of the television show Community. There's obviously an ongoing story being told, what with the new Hellfire Club, but in a lot of ways it isn't the focus. What matters are the characters, and Aaron and Co. are treating them with respect and having fun. Not too shabby.

1 comment:

  1. Community reference sells me. I'd been avoiding both new X-Men relaunches, but I'll look at this one just because you say it reminds you of Community. Love that show!