After the previous issue’s gripping conclusion (with Broo being shot in the head even as mutant kind returned in full force to the Marvel Universe), it’s perhaps not too surprising that Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw open “Wolverine & the X-Men” #19 on a lighter note. There’s no other way to describe an attack by Swarm (who really is a collective of Nazi bees, and yes, he really did exist prior to now), and watching him getting taken down by a combination of Krakoa and a legion of Bamfs; it is as ludicrous as it sounds.
“Wolverine & the X-Men” #19 mixes humor and drama. The scenes with Kitty Pryde interviewing various superheroes to replace Husk as a teacher at the school are as silly as the idea sounds; when Blade, Hellstorm and Dr. Nemesis are three early candidates, you know that Aaron isn’t taking this too seriously. It works well in balance with some of the other scenes, from Beast struggling to save Broo to Wolverine and Rachel hunting down those responsible. It’s a good pairing on those last two characters; both due to their powers (plus Rachel’s time as a Hound from her timeline) as well as their shared history in both “Avengers Vs. X-Men” and the circumstances that had her originally depart “Uncanny X-Men” some 300 issues ago. I want to see more of them working together, and hopefully this story will give us just that.
Even the little sub-storylines, like Toad and Husk’s bizarre relationship, gets some traction here. I appreciate that I have no idea where it’s going just yet, but it’s turned into more than just a strange side note or joke and into something that’s gained real traction. With a little nod to departed character Kid Gladiator and the introduction of two new students, it feels like there’s something for everyone in this issue, and that’s no small feat.
As for the storyline with the Hellfire Club and their attack on Broo, it’s still clearly not over, and Aaron ups the ante this issue with a glimpse into the Hellfire’s Club next targets. For all the enjoyment out of little moments like Angel squaring off against his Board of Directors, Aaron isn’t afraid to remind us that grim things also happen in “Wolverine & the X-Men,” and that the bad times aren’t entirely gone.
Bradshaw returning to pencil more issues of this title is always a reason to celebrate. From the very first page he’s doing a great job here. Kitty’s disdainful look at Swarm through the window is fun, and her expressions just get better and better as they sell Aaron’s comedic side. His attention to detail here is strong; not just from all of the various main characters (Idie’s look of despair, Genesis’s big smile, Quentin’s above-it-all nature) but even the myriad of guest stars. And when we see Husk’s latest status, he manages to make it both off-putting and entrancing; you can’t look away even as all of the warning signs are going off. Bradshaw’s a talented artist and I’d love to see him as the regular artist on “Wolverine & the X-Men.”
“Wolverine & the X-Men” #19 is not only a fun new installment, it’s also clearly marking out the path forward for the series now that “Avengers vs. X-Men” is over. Based on this issue? Well, if there was only one X-Men title that I could read, I think it would be this one. Aaron’s brought this comic in an interesting direction for 19 issues now, and I suspect that going forward that’s not going to change. As always, a pleasure.