Friday, August 23, 2013

Review # 35: "Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron Vol. 5"

While I appreciate Jason Aaron's ambition to make "Wolverine and the X-Men" a mixture of both whimsy and darkness (almost like Hogwarts with mutants,) there's always a line that can be crossed and things become too absurd. I think he may have done that here.

Volume four ended darkly with alien student Broo being shot in the head. Here, we find out he survived and is comatose as Beast tries desperately to bring him out of it. Meanwhile, after the events of AvX (review), new mutants are popping up all over the world and with Husk leaving they need a new teacher. After a hilarious series of interviews (including some classic panels featuring Dr. Nemesis and Deadpool), Kitty Pryde finds the perfect person: Storm, who returns to the X-Men fold on Logan's side.

Back to the subject of new students, there are two new notable additions (at least at first), Trevor aka "Eyeboy" whose mutation is exactly what his name would suggest and "Shark-Girl," a character that's a little too close to Wolfsbane for comfort. As Angel attempts to recruit the Brazilian, there's some competition in town in the form of Mystique and Silver Samurai. Quirky as this all may sound, it's par for the course for Aaron. Fun and light, with a tinge of darkness (one scene where Wolverine finds what's at the end of a false trail is particularly chilling.)

Then things kind of go off the rails.

The students wake up one day to find the teachers have disappeared. Kid Omega does some investigating and finds out they've been abducted and brainwashed into joining a circus. Novel concept, right? Too bad it was done by Chris Claremont 35 YEARS AGO in a storyline involving Mesmero. Aaron does make a few tweaks, however. The circus is stealing souls, though who they're stealing them for is absolutely ridiculous.

Now, variations on this monster have shown up in this series before. I'll also stand up for what was actually a really good story involving Vampires in the pages of "X-Men: Curse of the Mutants." But having the students and part of the Hellfire Club taking on the Frankenstein Monster? Please. This did not need to happen in the slightest. Frankly, having a member of the chilling new Hellfire Club linked with the works of Shelley is completely unnecessary. Yes, these books are very much about escapism. But you just had a young student shot in the head. With a gun. It doesn't mix.

Anyway, the X-Men are snapped out of it, Doop kicks monstrous amounts of ass and we get a "taking a break" issue. Bobby and Kitty go on a date, Quire hangs out with the out-of-time teenaged Jean Grey and... Storm kisses Wolverine? What? I can understand Storm working with Logan again and forgiving him for running a kill squad after having a taste of how dire the mutant problem was while working with Scott, but the end of "Second Coming" made it seem like they would have difficulty speaking with each other ever again.

Oh, and the mohawk is back.

Despite my qualms, though, this is far from terrible. It has some character and villain choices that raise my hackles but doesn't undermine the series. I'm looking forward to seeing where they go with the Hellfire Academy, and there's another great shocker to close this out.

Rating: 7/10

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