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    Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #31

    By | June 13th, 2013
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    The “Hellfire Saga” begins as Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw begin to tie the entire “Wolverine and the X-Men” run together! Is it as awesome as it sounds? Find out under the cut!

    Written by Jason Aaron

    Illustrated by Nick Bradshaw

    HELLFIRE SAGA PART 1! • Welcome to the Hellfire Academy, there’s little chance you’ll survive the experience. • The most villainous school you’ve ever seen has its grand opening. With teachers like Mystique, Sauron, Mojo, Wendigo and Master Pandemonium there’s no limit to the terrible things you’ll learn. • Can Wolverine and the X-Men find the school before their kidnapped students are turned into villains?

    We’ve done it. After years of waiting and build-up, the comic industry has finally reached it’s Apex.

    Jason Aaron is basically writing Quentin Quire as a lead character.

    Well, Kid Omega steps up as our point-of-view character in the first entry of “Wolverine and the X-Men’s” long awaited “Hellfire Saga” and he is really needed as Aaron introduces the Jean Grey School’s twisted sister. This issue essentially serves as a twisted mirror to “Wolverine and the X-Men’s” inaugural issue with snippets showing what the classes and campus life at the Hellfire Academy is like. With a demonic name like that it’d be natural to  assume that this issue is all doom and gloom, but Aaron uses his trademark wit to make the Hellfire Academy threatening but also completely hilarious. This has always been a funny title but with classes taught by Mystique and the best of the X-Men’s C-List villains, Aaron really outshines himself as a funny writer.

    All of that humor is sold thanks to Nick Bradshaw who, in a perfect world, would be the consistent artist for the entirety of “Wolverine and the X-Men’s” run. The lines are cartoonish enough to really sell the funnier moments but not too deformed to take away any impact from the heavier scenes. Bradshaw’s faux-retro style tricks readers into thinking the series is a throwback to the Claremont era when in reality it’s just taking elements from that period of X-Men to blaze a new trail forward. I won’t bring up the big last page reveal but if you grew up reading X-Men during that period with Australia and the Reavers (those words are the only two I understood from the Wikipedia research I did about this reveal) then you’ll be incredibly satisfied with the big twist.

    There is a bit of discrepancy in this title, as Wolverine hardly shows up. Granted, he appears in tons of other books like “Wolverine”, “Savage Wolverine”, and “Aquaman”, but this backseat for Logan actually works incredibly effectively. Putting an emphasis on the younger generation of mutants helps set this title apart from the two dozen other X-Men titles and a spotlight on Quentin Quire in particular makes this the best X-Men title by sheer virtue of being about Kid Omega. Aaron does a great job of making Quire an utter bastard while not going to overboard in the snotty brat department. Plus, Quire’s different t-shirts in each issue are just one of those little things that make the heart go warm.

    Of course, the entire title isn’t just big twists, humor, and Quentin Quire doing his best impression of If… Toad’s emotional journey continues to take him into some dark places that make the reader question his stability in the forthcoming issues. That is a sentence I never thought I would type. Though, as silly as it seems, Aaron is incredibly adept at taking laughable characters like Toad and giving them a layer or two of depth. And as funny as the Hellfire Academy can get, there is this sense of dread to show that, while they may have some jokes, the Academy is still the biggest threat the Jean Grey school has yet to face and that in teh end, this arc will actually change the rest of the title for a long time.

    Overall, Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw’s work on “Wolverine and the X-Men” is the most energetic book in the X-Men line right now. It’s funny, it’s tragic, and it perfectly complements its high stakes and dire situations with a bittersweet light-hearted tone that keeps the title from falling into the typical X-Men pitfall of coming off too strongly. “Wolverine and the X-Men” is one of the funnest comics out right now and where it goes will be incredibly exciting.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: – 8.8  Buy! Buy! Buy!

    James Johnston

    James Johnston is a grizzled post-millenial. Follow him on Twitter to challenge him to a fight.