Comic Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza and Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Previously, in Wolverine and the X-Men: The formation of a new Hellfire Club, lead by twelve year old Kade Kilgore, was one of the sparks that ignited the schism throughout the ranks of the X-Men, sending half of them across the country back to their Westchester school with a newly instated headmaster in Wolverine, and leaving the other half on the island of Utopia under Cyclops’ command. The Hellfire Club mounted an assault on Wolverine’s school, but was unsuccessful in shaking the school spirit, although its foundations were a different story.
After some misunderstandings between the staff of the new Jean Grey School, Wolverine has formed a new team of X-Men to join the Avengers in battle with Cyclops and the Phoenix Force. But whilst all this has been going on, what has become of the new Hellfire Club?
What goes up must come down, and the review ratings for Wolverine and the X-Men are no exception, it seems. After two or three issues that got back to the core of this series and showed what tie-ins to this event could be if they tried, we’re back to a bit of an unnecessary (if not necessarily bad) issue that spotlights Kade Kilgore, the new head of the Hellfire Club that sparked the Schism between Wolverine and Cyclops, as well as unleashing monsters on the Jean Grey School in the earliest arc of this series.
What follows is a quick look back at Kade’s life as an evil child, growing up to be an evil tween, and taking out his revenge on his father. This slots nicely into his first appearances during Schism, and then progresses past this to see what he and the rest of the Hellfire Club have been up to since being defeated by Wolverine and friends in Wolverine and the X-Men #3. It’s a quirky little tale, interspersed with some clever dialogue that will make you laugh at how rotten Kade really is, but it all rings a little…unneeded.
Kade and the rest of the Hellfire Club haven’t really needed much origin up till now. Like Sebastian Shaw and the other previous members of the Inner Circle, their origins are fairly bland for supervillains, even if they are only twelve years old. It’s unnecessary exposition about characters that don’t really need it at all and almost serves to say “LOOK HOW EVIL MY CHARACTER IS” instead of actually giving some kind of reason to dislike the kids, other than because they’re evil.
The shining light in this issue is the confrontation between Kade and the Phoenix Five, which has some great snipes from the kid and Cyclops being put on the back foot for the first time since the Phoenix possessed him. Their discussion is short and sweet, but works nicely in the context of the crossover – Cyclops has bigger fish to fry than a twelve year old, even a twelve year old who makes Sentinels in his spare time and sells them. Cyke’s way of dealing with Kade is decent, but works about as well as you’d expect, and sets up another moment for Kade to show how evil he is, by which point we’ve already got the point and thankfully the issue ends soon after.
Chris Bachalo’s final issue of Wolverine and the X-Men is this one, and his huge swathes of colour do nothing to improve his usually murky storytelling. Whilst I do appreciate his style and downright enjoy it in certain places, this issue wasn’t it, with entire panels coloured in one colour for no apparent reason, detracting from the story by making me wonder what on earth was going on. As I’ve mentioned before, Bachalo’s pencils are great, but maybe he should get a colourist to make sure his work looks as good as possible, instead of drowning his own work in odd colouring choices. Bachalo has done much better than this on this series before, but it seems like a swift exit was a good idea.
This isn’t a particularly bad issue of Wolverine and the X-Men, but it feels like an unnecessary look at some characters that don’t really need the added backstory. It’s competent and decently told, but basically exists as a filler issue in order to bridge the gap between the final stages of Avengers Vs. X-Men. Thankfully next issue should be a bit more fun, as a certain Doop appears to brighten things up a bit.
GO Rating: 2.5/5