I like comic books. I would imagine that's something people who know me have figured out by now. I think Superheroes are cool, and there's potential for a lot of excellent stories to be told uniquely through the comic book format.

The thing is, while I like things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe a lot, I'm still relatively unfamiliar with the actual Marvel comic universe, so not long ago I asked for some suggestions on books to help me get caught up, and I got a bunch! So, between those, some arcs I've decided I want to read on my own, and some cheap stuff I picked up at a con a while back (mostly because Brian Michael Bendis name was on the cover and he's awesome), I've got a good chunk of Marvel stuff to jump into. And I thought, hey, why not chronicle my journey through the Marvel Universe?

So here's a new thing I'm going to be writing precisely whenever. I'm going to jot down some thoughts about whatever it is I've just read! This is going to be pretty informal, spoiler-laden, and will probably be stream-of-consciousness-esque, because I really just want to focus on getting my thoughts on each comic down and putting them out there.

The first thing which jumped out at me out of the huge pile I've got sitting in my bedroom right now is Wolverine and the X-Men, by Jason Aaron, because I remember liking the cartoon from a few years back quite a bit. I looked it up, this series actually started two years after the cartoon, so I can only assume the idea was popular enough to gain it's own ongoing comic. Basically the idea is that instead of Professor Xavier, Wolverine is leading the X-Men/The Xavier Academy (well, in this it's "Jean Grey Academy") of Higher Learning. It really worked well in cartoon format, though the show was unfortunately short lived.

The comic takes that idea and does a slightly different spin on it. This is basically the various older X-Men (Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Beast, Rogue... Rachel Grey? I don't know who that is.) teaching a younger generation of X-Men, including a bunch of characters who, based on comments in the story I'm assuming are characters which had already been established, but who I'm not familiar with. These include characters like Kid Gladiator, an alien prince, Broo, a nerdy alien whose species is apparently quite vicious, other than him, Kid Omega, who is apparently a bad guy? ...Uh, my point. Even though I wasn't familiar with these characters until reading these first four issues, they do a very good job of if not giving you a ton of character backstory, then at least giving you a good idea of what each character's personality is.


This felt like a pretty good leaping on point to more modern X-Men comics to me, because (due to something they keep referring to as the "schism,") the X-Men have broken up at the beginning of this, and Wolverine is reforming them. And the characters they've picked to focus on tend to be the X-Men I've always liked in their various films and cartoons: Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Rogue, Iceman, and the aforementioned Rachel Grey, who I'm assuming is related to Jean Grey.

The story for the first three issues involves around the opening of the school (and the inspection by the school board), and then the new King of the Hellfire Club, a twelve year old boy who apparently runs a massive arms corporation. The tone of the book seems to be more lighthearted than I expected, mostly focusing on comedy and school antics. I'm not totally sure if it works, to be honest, because while the tone seemed to be pretty goofy, most of the jokes fell pretty flat for me.

My major problem with the first three issues lies mostly with the artwork. It feels very disjointed and it tends to do extreme close-ups on everything, to the point where I can't tell what's happening. There were quite a few panels that I honestly just didn't know what it was supposed to be depicting, and in a comic book that's a pretty major flaw. It kind of felt like the comic book equivalent of Michael Bay cinematography. It might be showing the coolest stuff in the world, but you can't really tell if you can't see what's going on!


The reveal that the entire school has been built on an enormous living hunk of rock called Krakoa was pretty cool though, and the story seemed to function fine, it was just a major problem with the artwork really bogging my enjoyment of the comic down.

The fourth issue was much better. The art shifted to a more traditional style, and I could actually tell what was going on. This issue focused on the introduction of Angel, who has lost his memories during a battle with Apocalypse, and now believes himself to be an actual angel, as well as the introduction of another new student, "Genesis"/Evan, who turns out to be a clone of Apocalypse. I liked this issue for a couple reasons. First of all, there were actually some funny moments ("I found a gray hair [this morning]. The whole day I've been pretending it was an illusion and that we're secretly under attack by Mysterio."). Second of all, both the Angel stuff and the Genesis stuff seems like it's setting up some potentially very interesting plot lines (to say nothing of the actual final shot of a suddenly-pregnant Kitty Pryde).

So overall I wasn't totally sold on the first four issues of Wolverine and the X-Men, but I liked the last issue enough that I'll give the next trade a shot. I like the idea behind the series, the initial story seems like it has potential, and I'm very happy with their selection of characters to focus on, but I thought the humor fell pretty flat, and the artwork in the first three issues was pretty bad.


Crossposted from my personal blog.