Review: WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1
Written by Jason Latour
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Israel Silva
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 5, 2014

WOLVXMEN2014001_DC11_LRThe Jean Grey School isn’t done teaching its students just because it’s the summer after some of them have graduated – or just because its headmaster is who-knows-where doing whatever it is that he does best. There are still plenty of lessons to be learned, even by those who are trying to do the educating. And with an all-new #1 and a fresh creative team, Marvel made sure they’d be sharing those revelations with the class.

This book has a big cast, but Latour does a good job at juggling the characters so that everyone gets their moment – if not a proper introduction – while fan favorites Eye Boy, Quentin Quire, Storm, and Wolverine carry the majority of the issue on their shoulders. He uses the age-old vehicle of a new student to help flesh out some of the school’s lesser-known aspects to new readers, but keeps it fresh by switching character perspectives and letting other conversations round out the establishing instead of relying too heavily on the new student crutch. This heavy amount of dialogue, however, puts Latour’s shortcomings under the spotlight: awkwardly structured sentences and uncomfortably forced humor, both of which make for a somewhat bumpy read. But despite the choppy, kinda cheesy quality of the dialogue, Latour manages to put genuine emotion in an exchange between Logan, a potential new teacher, and a student at the tail end of the issue, and keeps the chord for a few words between Quentin and Idie that gives the foreboding ending additional weight.

Latour is well-matched with Asrar, who tells a near-seamless story with a constant change-up of camera angles and panel placement that draws the reader into the story and holds their interest from page to page with ease. When a conversation between Storm and Beast takes place in two completely different places, Asrar balances both locations on one page without a hitch. But like Latour, there’s some occasional awkwardness to Asrar’s delivery: action panels and movement are clumsily delivered, poses coming off stiff and forced. And given Asrar’s skill in non-action body language poses, it’s an unfortunate artistic stumble. Everything else – from furniture to foliage – is tackled flawlessly in the background.

And giving rich life and texture to Latour’s artwork is Silva’s colors, which are so active on every page it puts other colorists’ efforts to shame. Silva is particularly brilliant with lighting, bringing readers to sprawl beneath the roving tree-cast shadows in the woods, stand in the warm glow of afternoon sun from corridor windows, and squint against that same sunlight in an open field. Everything is touchable, from mingling colors of characters’ skintones to their shaded clothing, from the harsh gleam of a phone screen to a haze of slowly dispersing dust. Silva’s colors are so mobile, in fact, they occasionally alienate the art – particularly when trying to mesh with the white-and-black costume of the school’s newest teacher, trying to add so much weight the result is uncomfortably over-shaped. Silva also struggles with adding movement, blockily filling in action sweeps with solid color. Still, it’s a gorgeous book.

For a first issue, Wolverine and the X-Men #1 does exactly what it’s asked to do: introduce a book to new readers, and introduce a new creative team’s collaborative ability to fans of the last volume still on for the ride. It does an excellent job with both, even if there’s a few things the team have to iron out as they move forward.

But the Jean Grey School’s classes are back in session.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

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