On the whole, Jason Aaron and David LÃ³pez's "Wolverine & The X-Men" 24 is a fun and attractive book, but like many quiet and more soap-opera like superhero books it lacks some gravitas until the end.
Quiet relationship books are some of my favorite kinds -- those small stories that develop character and show "insignificant" moments that happen between the big battles -- and in that way, "Wolverine & The X-Men" #24 should be right up my alley. It does hit some great (and hilarious) notes, but some of the core relationships felt forced in a way that left me frustrated and confused. The Kitty and Bobby relationship, though Aaron handled it well on the whole, just didn't really work. I was actually pleased for the sake of both characters to see that it wasn't going to work out, but that kiss suggests maybe it isn't over. I find myself conflicted about that. Similarly, the Storm and Wolverine relationship feels unnatural. So much of Aaron's writing feels so effortless, but Storm and Wolverine in this issue feel like editorial mandate that he's being forced to "make work." That awkwardness doesn't even include the utterly bizarre Quentin Quire/Jean Grey sequence.
In fact, given the strong humorous start to the issue, I found myself wishing that the book had focused what must have been a rollicking "teacher's night out" for Rachel, Warren, Warbird, Deathlok and Doop. A combination of that story and more time spent with Abigail Brand and Beast (who Aaron nailed in the span of one page -- probably the best page in the entire book) would have made a far more interesting (and funnier) book than the forced romantic connections between big guns Storm and Wolverine, Kitty and Iceman.
Still, Aaron is a truly enjoyable writer. He has an excellent sense of humor and pacing, and he's not afraid to take chances. They don't always pay off, but the book continues to feel risky and bold in a way too few marquee books do and it's impressive he's been able to maintain that for 24 issues (released in a very short period of time no less). I do wish I'd read this issue before I read "Uncanny X-Force" #1 so that Storm's physical (and emotional) transformation would have felt a bit more organic.
David LÃ³pez's art is lovely throughout this issue and he's well suited to a book like this as he excels at character acting and expressions. He's as good at the quiet moments as his in delivering Aaron's quick-witted humor. A few times Iceman looked a bit ridiculous, but that may have been deliberate given his personality and the storyline involved. LÃ³pez draws a stunning Storm and though I'm a huge fan of the mohawk look for her (and her new costume), LÃ³pez almost made me reconsider with his gorgeous depiction of her.
"Wolverine & The X-Men" has been a strong and interesting book throughout its run and I've been impressed time and again with where it has gone and how it's been handled. This is a good quiet issue, but not a great one. It's perhaps more disappointing because it hovers just on the edge of being utterly fantastic, but can't quite get there.