Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar’s “Wolverine and the X-Men” #2, despite very pretty art, is a mishmash of ideas, characters and plot points that never gel. Everything, plus the kitchen sink, is thrown at readers in issue #2, but nothing sticks. There doesn’t seem to be a central character to focus on or plot point to grab onto. It feels a little like reading a book that was thrown in a blender.
Latour’s script suffers from serious overcomplications already, which is frustrating for a second issue. It feels dense in a way that’s not new reader friendly (at all) and yet the density doesn’t lead to additional emotional beats or a strengthening of character or heightened stakes. The book flashes to the past and also twice shows readers the future. It touches on several characters but truly lands on none, and fills page after page with seeming filler only to rush scenes that warrant further exploration and depth.
By the end of the book, Quentin Quire is in supposedly dire straights and, despite being generally interested in the character, I found I both didn’t care, and didn’t remotely buy the suggested peril. Additionally, while both Quire and Logan’s voices felt effortlessly on point, Storm was inconsistent, sometimes speaking in contractions, sometimes not and opening with a bizarre voice over narration only to never have it happen again, while Hisako’s whole personality felt off. Ultimately, these many deficiencies made for a disappointing issue, despite some beautiful art and a few solid jokes.
Asrar’s art is gorgeous on the whole, with sharp, crisp lines, and strong expressive acting and substantial storytelling choices. He excels at both Quentin Quire and Storm especially, and since they have a lot of panel time, the book mostly looks great (though it does leave one aching for an Asrar-drawn Storm series). Some of the later action scenes leave a bit to be desired as backgrounds drop away and some of the storytelling choices aren’t the strongest, and an early rendering of a cavewoman that looks like a supermodel is a distractingly odd. Still, the book has gorgeous style to spare, and tonally feels like exactly what Latour is going for visually to match the crazy freewheeling joke-drive vibe.
Asrar capitalizes on a few opportunities to create great moments — both emotionally and otherwise — and he especially makes strong visual choices for Latour’s jokes. More than anything however, it just feels like Asrar and Latour need a bit more time to get to know one another as creators in order to be working in optimum sync. Israel Silva’s coloring is similarly competent and functional but not quite the best it can be. It’s clean and bright in the way it probably should be, but it could use some nuance to up the stakes as scenes shift from comedy to tragedy. They’ve all got comedy down cold, but the other side of the coin could use some work.
I want to like the freewheeling unconventional nature of this book, especially since Asrar’s art is a huge draw, but so far inconsistent writing and plotting are making it kind of a mess. It feels like a runaway train headed for a brick wall, and that wouldn’t be bad if I had confidence that Latour had control and could pull us out of it before we hit the wall, but right now, it feels like nobody has control.