Comic Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, and Victor Olazaba
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Previously, in Wolverine and the X-Men: After being split in half by the Schism, the X-Men are facing another decision as the X-Men and Avengers are battling over the fate of Hope Summers, the so-called mutant messiah. Wolverine is approached by Captain America, and pledges to help Cap stop Cyclops’ plan to allow Hope to become the next host of the Phoenix Force.
Across the galaxy on the planet Sin, bets are being placed as to which planets will be destroyed by the oncoming Phoenix Force first. Shi’ar Emperor Gladiator has seen that the Phoenix is aiming for Earth, where his son, Kid Gladiator, goes to school at Wolverine’s school. Looks like it’s time for parental intervention.
When you promise one thing at the end of the last issue and deliver something totally different this time, we call it a fake-out ending. Also an annoying one. Wolverine and the X-Men #10 pulls this, by ignoring Gladiator and the Shi’ar for the entirety of this issue, until the last few pages where writer Jason Aaron uses almost the same cliffhanger again, and it’s considerably less effect this time around. It frustrates the reader and makes it seem as if nothing has happened of import, and gives the impression of playing for time. This is a shame, since the rest of this issue is excellent character work.
As shown from the cover, Cyclops and Emma Frost arrive at the Jean Grey School in order to speak to Wolverine. This issue is evidently set between issues 2 and 3 of Avengers Vs. X-Men, and helps set up some plot points in issue 3 itself whilst playing a more important role in the grand scheme of things. The majority of the issue deals with the fallout from Wolverine’s choice to fight alongside the Avengers against the X-Men – first, how this affects Logan himself, and later how it has affected those who teach at his school. The damage this conflict is causing to Wolverine is deep, and when you know just how much he has gone through over the years, to see him in a moment of true weakness is almost heartbreaking. Whilst he prides himself on being a loner, Wolverine has many friends, whether he admits it or not, and seeing them turn their back on him holds a lot of impact.
The middle of the issue is used to discuss the different viewpoints that Cyclops and Wolverine have over the current conflict, and to retread some of their arguments from the Schism that initially separated them. It’s nice to see that the pair don’t come to blows (though there’s a Krakoa involved), since it could easily have come to that, and shows that despite their differences, they both believe in their causes enough to know when discussion works better than fisticuffs. There’s a lot of text in the middle of this issue, but it all feels weighty and specially chosen.
This isn’t a Wolverine-centric issue either, with some spotlight shining on Genesis and Angel as they both go through their own crises that have been brewing for a while. It’s almost an aside compared to the rest of the book, but it does remind the reader that this book will operate on its own from the Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover, despite the big banner across the top of the book.
Chris Bachalo’s work is once again a mixed bag here. His art can be crisp and clean in bigger panels, and he excels with some of the crazier scenes – his Krakoa is a particular favourite of mine, but then other times you can stare at a panel for minutes before you realise what is going on. Like I mentioned previously, I think this is more because of his colour choices than his pencils. Scenes can be randomly coloured, with no real look at light sources, like an entire panel of orange for no reason, and it muddies the visual.
Despite some flaws, this issue is another consistent one. The ending is poor, and the art can be difficult, but at heart, this issue expands on the Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover to give some insight into Wolverine and his fellow teachers viewpoints on the conflict, plus some little teasers of some other plots that will continue to bubble below the surface. I’d have bumped this issue up above its predecessor, but those few niggling flaws drag it back down a little, unfortunately. Hopefully these will be ironed out by next issue.
GO Rating: 3.5