Things are not looking good for the newly formed team of the Jean Grey Institute, but readers get to reap the pleasure from their pain. Jason Aaron certainly proves with this issue that he’s not pulling any punches. With the school already torn apart by the Hellfire Club, the less-than-genial pairing of Wolverine and Quentin Quire travel to a galactic casino to gamble for the future of the school. Meanwhile, the school comes under attack (again) from two different angles: a microscopic Brood invasion of Kitty Pryde’s stomach, and an outward attack on the school itself from a mysterious Brood wrangler.
This all sounds wild and convoluted in concept, yet Aaron manages to meld all three plot lines splendidly. The team-up between Quire and Wolverine is unsurprisingly great. Their relationship is quickly becoming one of the best parts of the book . It should be interesting to see how Quire evolves as a character under Aaron’s pen.
The Brood invasion was unexpected but certainly welcomed as a fresh take on the vicious aliens. Personally, the Brood have always been a great threat to the X-Men. There’s something inherently awesome about seeing the X-Men desperately use all their power to destroy the mindless and massive swarms. Aaron manages to give the Brood the same overwhelming feeling in the story while making the idea even more threatening by placing part of the attack in Kitty Pryde herself.
Of course, this is all leading up to the inevitable encounter between the Brood and the lovable and innocent Broo. Like his schoolmates Quentin Quire and Genesis, Broo runs the risk of turning towards the darker aspect of his nature. Aaron is making these characters easy to fall in love with but it’s hard not to feel like he’s eventually going to pull the trap door under one of them.
Nick Bradshaw’s pencils fits the style of the story well. It may seem overly cartoonish at times but within the extravagance of the plot itself it’s appropriate. When dealing with a story that involves a space casino and a bodily alien invasion, it’s best to have an artist who can easily adapt to those parameters and Bradshaw pulls it off. The fight scene in Kitty Pryde’s stomach is evidence enough.
Wolverine & the X-Men is a wonderful book for those who like the more fantastical elements of X-Men. It’s an eclectic mix of all the best elements of X-Men. At its best it reminds me the most of Claremont’s heyday with its wide scope of storytelling and its unpredictability. After the endless barrage of game-changing events of the last few years it’s exciting to see an X book that has a life of its own.