By Jason Latour, Mamud Asrar, Matteo Lolli & Israel Silva
The opening arc of the re-launched Wolverine and the X-Men, with new writer Jason Latour, has had a bit less of a focus on the students at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning, which was to be expected based on Jason Aaron’s ending of the previous volume. Aaron’s last issue primarily focused on Quentin Quire and what might be happening next for him. Latour has picked up this thread, along with expanding on some minor details from last fall’s Battle of the Atom. While Latour has moved away from some of the tertiary students we grew accustomed to, his story has not abandoned all of the students. The opening arc, in addition to Quentin Quire, has also heavily featured Evan Abahnsur, a.k.a. Genesis, a.k.a. the child clone of Apocolypse.
A key strength (one of many) in this book is the plotting. Latour has finely crafted an opening arc that will no doubt have lasting implications, and has done so in a magnificent way. Latour has picked up on threads from several writers before him, weaving them together to tell an action-packed and dramatic story. He’s picking up pieces from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, and the previously mentioned work Jason Aaron did on Wolverine and the X-Men.
Furthermore, Latour’s dialogue is crisp, witty, and damn funny. His interpretation of Quentin Quire is quickly elevating him in my personal X-Men rankings. On a side note, I’d totally wear some of the t-shirts Quire chooses to wear. Quire’s actions in this issue, teaming up with Cyclops of all people, show some early bricks in the foundation of Cyclops and Wolverine possibly fixing the schism (sorry, had to) between them. And this is yet another strong point in this issue. Not only does Latour excel at witty banter, but he hits those small character beats out of the park as well.
The artwork by Mamud Asrar, Matteo Lolli, and Israel Silva is mostly superior as well. At times, backgrounds are left vacant, but that’s just a minor quibble. The opening pages, featuring fan-favorite Doop, are deftly done and will no doubt leave a smile on readers’ faces. The fight scenes in this issue are drawn to near perfection. Fantomex versus Faithful John is one of the better drawn fights in recent memory. Both characters were dynamically penciled by Asrar and Lolli, and the lines capture the chaos and violence of each punch. It’s also easy to follow. Today, so many fight scenes seem to be a blur and difficult to read. Here, that is never an issue. Silva’s color work is spectacular as well. His details when Cyclops makes his entrance and when Nature Girl unleashes an attack add a touch of grandiosity to each scene.
While this book seems to have a bit more focus on some of the teachers at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning, it is expanding on Quentin Quire and Evan Sabahnur. Latour has written each in a way where we can easily see how they are important, and even implicit, in any future developments of mutankind. Initially we were led to believe we were heading toward an Apocolypse versus Phoenix throwdown, but the creative team wisely curbed those expectations. This issue is dense with development, emotion, and action, all while toying with notions we expect in an X-Men book. All respect to the excellent tales Bendis is crafting over in All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, but Wolverine and the X-Men might be the best mutant book going at the moment.