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Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #31

Wolvie and X-Men 31It’s off to school for Quentin Quire, Idie (Oya), and Broo, Hellfire Academy’s newest (but maybe not brightest) recruits. Wolverine and the X-Men #31 marks the start to Jason Aaron’s The Hellfire Saga, in which we get a first-hand look at how Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngster might have looked if Magneto and other badies had ever gotten control of it. And it’s sort of awesome, in a slap-on-the-wrist “I shouldn’t be thinking bad thoughts!” kind of way. After all, when feel of Harry Potter meets the X-Men in a satire soaked issue, things are bound to be exciting and hilarious.

Nick Bradshaw does great work bringing to life Aaron’s quirky script, and he draws a Mystique unlike any I’ve seen before (I think Quentin has it right when he labels it an attempt at the ‘sexy schoolteacher’ look). The issue constantly pits Omega Kid Quentin’s shim-sham antics and new-guy Snot’s laughable grossness (seriously, a mucus sneezing mutant?) against the classroom patience of some of the deadliest super-bads in the galaxy. Though as Quentin points out, why are they all learning from villains who always lose?

Quentin attempts to convince Idie to leave the Academy (she’s there to find out who shot and messed up Broo’s brain), and purposely fails classes from “Introduction to Evil” to “Public Relations for Psychopaths.” Meanwhile, Logan and the X-Men (I mean all of ‘em) are busy searching high and low for the runaways from the Jean Grey School. We learn that Logan is convinced he’s failed the students, a theme Aaron has carried throughout the Wolverine and the X-Men series thus far; I can only hope Quentin Quire—my new favorite up-and-comer, aside from Broo—shows Wolvie what he’s all about, because I don’t want to see an end to this series.

Bradshaw’s art brings a childlike (no, not an insult!) vibe to the comic, something between cartoony and fantastically-realist (it’s hard to pin down literal descriptions of this sort of mainstream Marvel art). Some pages are more detailed than others, and it’s hard to tell that a single artist has worked on the book, since the stylistic representation from character to character is so unnaturally dynamic. However, Aaron delivers a wonderfully written, lighthearted issue with grave underpinnings for the narrative whole. All of this comes wrapped up as a satire of superhero comics (and their archnemeses) in general, for example, mocking the absurd number of times villains fail but still think they’re tough sh*t.

Wolverine and the X-Men #31 is yet another reason why this series is a great addition to Marvel’s current X-Men books, a mixture of gravity and comedy that hearkens back to the Marvel heyday.

Story: Jason Aaron  Art: Nick Bradshaw
Story: 8.5  Art: 7  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Read