BiffBamPop is not without affection for Wolverine. Canadian, opinionated, possessed of undeniable magnetism — it’s safe to say we feel a kinship. And the X-Men always give readers lots to enjoy. And part of the X-Men’s appeal has always been how easy it is for high schoolers to relate to them.
Wolverine went back to school in the first collection of Wolverine and the X-Men, as the founder and headmaster of the newly-opened Jean Grey School for Exceptional Youngsters, on the site of the old Xavier School. With the undeniable resources of the cream of the X-Men as instructors and staff (Iceman the accountant, Kitty Pryde as Vice-Headmaster, Beast as science teacher, Rachel “Phoenix II” Summers/Gray as telepathic instructor), hundreds of years’ worth of his own life savings, and the “Angel” Worthington fortune, it looked like things might just go their way.
Writer Jason Aaron knows that he can’t let things get too easy, though.
In cahoots with the extraordinary writing of Rick Remender on Uncanny X-Force, Archangel has found himself reborn — and found unfit to administer his considerable family fortune. Wolverine’s cash is running low. And the Hellfire Club is not going to let them catch a break, setting the scene for get-rich-quick schemes, unexpected visits from mysterious threats, and the revisitation of one very personal vendetta.
As the last collection of Wolverine and the X-Men before the Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover kicked in and completely overwhelmed the plot of the series (though check out the phenomenal new issue 15 for an example of what the book does at its best!), this book lets the X-Men deal with some of the more random and zany threats they’ve faced over the years. And it’s smart, and easy on the eyes. Nick Bradshaw’s slightly friendlier pencils illustrate the “Kitty’s Pregnancy”/”Logan and Quire, Space Gamblers” arc at the beginning. But Chris Bachalo returns to illustrate issue 8, and if there’s ever been a better match in comics than Bachalo’s savage lines and Aaron’s penetrating prose, I’d like to see it.
(Okay, maybe Ellis and Immonen on NextWave.)
The only downside here is that, in Marvel Premiere hardcover format, you’re paying over 20 dollars for 4 issues of the series. Now, the title’s great, but five-dollars-per-issue isn’t a comment on quality: it’s just unsustainable for a collector. I like the book, but I can read it a lot cheaper as digital back-issues. So it’s hard to make the case here. Certainly the first four issues of the series make up an exceptional story arc on their own, and this set is similarly self-contained, so there’s some method in the madness, but it’s still madness.
So read it, and love it, but maybe wait for a more cost-effective way to keep up with it. Comic pricing strategies are what they are, but in all honesty, this wouldn’t have been out of place as a pocket-sized book along the lines of Runaways or X-Men: First Class. Wolverine and the X-Men is dark enough that it’s not a “Marvel Adventures” line. That’s fine; Jason Aaron is the writer of the recently-finished Scalped, after al. But these stories of high school and growing up are perfect for teenagers and younger readers, and it needs to be kept within their reach.