Some may question the logic of turning Wolverine’s half-brother into a sort of time-travelling bounty hunter intent on proving himself to be a better man than his brother, but in a book this crazy, it’s a change that totally works. Loosely sequelizing Jason Aaron’s “Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine” story, “Wolverine and the X-Men” #27 by Aaron and Ramon Perez is about as out-there as modern X-titles get, and all the better for having such a distinct voice.
Aaron framed this arc as a field trip to the Savage Land for delinquent and remedial students, and while it started off chaotic and disjointed, this issue somehow manages to bring everything together. As readers approach the final page, it’s clear that this group of characters, all of whom are lumbered with ridiculous powers or visuals or attitude problems have somehow come together to act exactly the way a group of X-Men trapped in the Savage Land should.
Encouragingly, this issue allows Aaron to flesh out some of the newer students without ignoring the more popular or familiar cast members. Genesis and Quire get some good moments, but so do Shark-Girl and Eye-Boy. Even Wolverine, absent from the pages though he mostly is, gets shown in flashback as a mentor figure. It’s taken a while, but his position as a teacher is starting to make sense: imagine a whole team of characters as tenacious as Wolverine. Here, readers may see the beginnings of that.
As an artist, Perez’s most impressive skill lies in maintaining the delicate balance between the weirder character visuals and the genuine emotion they’re required to show. But he’s also a fantastic storyteller, cramming information into every panel. No one’s ever just standing around filling space, there’s always an emotion to read or an action to interpret (something masterfully displayed in the opening shot of the faculty).
Of course, even with an artist as strong as Perez, there are times when this book can feel a little too chaotic. This issue isn’t the worst for that, but it does pile on the action and character without spending a huge amount of time making its plot clear. It’s great fun while reading, but afterwards, it’s difficult to be sure what it was you were reading about.
Despite that, it remains a consistent and overall enjoyable read. Few writers could get away with what Aaron does in this book, but that’s part of what gives “Wolverine and the X-Men” its fiercely individualistic charm. Issue #27 isn’t a classic on its own terms (and in fairness, the middle parts of any story will struggle to be) but in the end, it is a good indication of everything that makes the book what it is.