Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Nick Bradshaw
Inkers: Walden Wong, Nick Bradshaw and Cam Smith
Colourist: Guru eFX
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Previously, in Wolverine and the X-Men: Wolverine and the Avengers are now fugitives, fleeing the Phoenix Five whilst trying to come up with a counter-attack plan. Most of Wolverine’s fellow teachers have joined the Five, though some have their doubts as to their motives, such as Rachel Grey, former host of the Phoenix.
Also joining the Phoenix Five is Kid Gladiator, son of Gladiator, the Shi’ar Emperor. Ditching his protector, Shi’ar warrior Warbird, he is defeated after being stabbed in the stomach by Wolverine’s claws and dealt a humbling defeat. His father has finally arrived from the Shi’ar homeworld, and is set to attack the Phoenix Five’s home base of Pax Utopia.
I’ve not been looking forward to writing my Wolverine and the X-Men reviews recently. The title has been good, as I’ve said before, but not to the same level as before Avengers Vs. X-Men, and it was getting to the point where I’d almost dread buying the book, which is where I’d soon be thinking about dropping it. The gripe I’d been pulling at for the past few issues was the Shi’ar plot line that had been teased for about 5 issues, and nothing had been done with it at all, moving at a crawl between issues. Then along comes this issue, which makes everything before it seem worthwhile.
Making me cry is always a good way to make me remember your issue, and there are only a few comics that have fallen into that category, with most of them being Spider-Man titles. We can now add Wolverine and the X-Men #13 to that list. This issue is told almost entirely from the point of view of Warbird, the almost blank slate of a character that has been hovering around the peripheries of this title since it began, quipping here and there, and hitting stuff with a sword. Now she takes centre stage for an origin story that will destroy your heart.
It’s clear that there’s something different about her from the get-go, and as the issue goes along to tell you about how the Shi’ar working class live, and how Warbird got to where she was today, we slowly see just why. I was expecting a kind of origin similar to that of Brienne in Game of Thrones, but that isn’t the case, which is refreshing. Instead, we get right to the heart of this warrior who has dedicated her life to protecting the Shi’ar way of life, at the cost of her own, literally.
Nick Bradshaw’s bright and colourful pencils add the emotional impact that is needed for this storyline, where Chris Bachalo’s dark palette would have had the complete opposite effect. It’s almost an oxymoron that this bright issue tells such a heartbreaking story, but it works perfectly for it. This is the first time I’ve noticed the details around Warbird’s eyes, and the effect that they give here are exactly what you need and almost add to the character of Warbird herself, giving her a permanently sad expression which is entirely fitting once you read the entire issue.
Given that I’ve been annoyed at this Shi’ar storyline for the past 5 issues, I’m now almost sad to see it go. Warbird’s story is written to give just the right amount of emotional impact, and still manages to contribute to the Avengers Vs. X-Men storyline as Gladiator and his forces finally tackle the Phoenix Five, and we return to the Jean Grey School for the coda. If the past few issues had put this title on shaky ground, this one cements it right back at the top of my pull list.
GO Rating: 5/5