Three issues in, Wolverine and the X-Men still feels like it is on the cusp of carving out a new direction for the franchise. But there are just a few things holding it back from greatness.
I'm not the biggest Chris Bachalo fan, so thus far I haven't been very enamored with the art. Wolverine and the X-Men #3 is the worst looking issue of the series to date, with Duncan Rouleau and Matteo Scalera joining Bachalo as the primary pencilers. I believe that Bachalo is actually the artist behind the best pages of the issue, like the double page splash of Wolverine and the cast as well as the opening sequence with Quentin Quire encountering his fellow students for the first time.
The last page of the issue is particularly hideous and it looks nothing like Bachalo's usual work, so it must have been drawn by either Rouleau or Scalera. The flashback sequence with Captain America and Wolverine was also pretty underwhelming.
Even Jason Aaron is not immune to causing problems for this book. For whatever reason, Aaron has a strange fascination with his gang of psycho 12 year olds who comprise the current incarnation of the Hellfire Club. Despite two opportunities within this issue to write them out of the book, Aaron's ending seems to suggest that the Bratfire club is here to stay. In drama, there are usually two types of villains. The ones you love to hate and the ones that you hate because they're annoying as f***. The Hellfire kids fall into the latter category.
But Aaron is also the reason that the book works as well as it does. Although the new supporting cast don't seem to be very deep yet, I really like the focus on Idie, Broo and Kid Gladiator. Quentin Quire also has some hilarious moments riffing on "Good Will Hunting" with Wolverine and in his frustration about no one knowing who he is. There's also something inherently hilarious about a Sauron in a business suit that always gets me laughing.
Among the adult characters, Aaron only seems to be interested in using Wolverine, Rachel, Iceman and Kitty Pryde; with only occasional check-ins with Beast and Husk. It's not a bad lineup and used alongside the new student body, this book still has a boatload of potential. The mix of characters alone make Wolverine and the X-Men seem like a breath of fresh air compared to relative tameness of the Uncanny X-Men relaunch.
Most of this issue is built around the X-Men and their students attempting to fight Krakoa; whom long-time X-Men fans may remember from Giant Sized X-Men #1. There are some twists with this incarnation of Krakoa and the resolution of his threat is one of the more brilliant things about this series. I really want to see where Aaron takes that angle going forward.
Aaron also shines in some of the banter throughout the book (like Iceman's "Professor Snikt" line) and his use of a long-time Marvel character to cause trouble for the Bratfire club. Wolverine and the X-Men is just a really fun book to read and it may still be the beginning of the next great X-Men run.
However, until the artwork in this book is more consistently executed, I can't recommend it as highly as I would like to.
Crave Online Rating: 7/10