“Wolverine and The X-Men” #12 is a very pretty comic thanks to Chris Bachalo and his team of inkers, and it’s a good thing, because this issue of “Wolverine and The X-Men” really suffers by continuing to be drawn into the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” event. While Jason Aaron does his best with the material, there’s just not much of interest here.
The art, in typical Bachalo fashion, is full of energy and enthusiasm. It pops with color and the detail work is sublime. The acting is top notch, and divinely present in every single panel. Nothing ever looks lazy or rushed, unfinished or under-considered. Bachalo’s panel layout is a striking combination of highly structured and then wildly unfettered and it draws a wonderful contrast. There are a couple places where the action is unclear — especially a scene between Beast and Iceman that I really wanted to understand — but on the whole the occasional lack of clarity is a small price to pay for how gorgeous it is throughout.
The story, like all the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” event tie-ins I’ve read, is the primary problem. Aaron does what he can, and as usual the writing is solid, but there’s just absolutely nobody to root for. At least before the Phoenix Five debuted it was easier to try to root for the X-Men, since the Avengers were all acting like super cops drunk on power. But now the Avengers still seem like that and the X-Men are acting like cult leaders. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right Cyclops? How are we supposed to care about anyone in this mess? I don’t even recognize most of them as characters I’ve been reading for the bulk of my life.
In fact, one of the few characters that shines in this issue is Kid Gladiator, likely because Aaron is able to move him more freely. We don’t know him well enough yet to not recognize him in this game. And unlike all the other characters that seem to be in this “fight of the century” with overly earnest intentions and delusional moral ideals, Kid Gladiator does just seem there to punch crap. Which better fits the “grand idea” of this crossover anyway, by which I mean there does not seem to be a “grand idea” at all.
Aaron and Bachalo have delivered one of the best new series of the last year with “Wolverine and The X-Men” and Aaron has time and again proven himself to be an incredibly smart writer. Seeing them deliver such a mediocre book here despite their best efforts it’s easy to conclude there’s a serious and much deeper problem with this event. Aaron and Bachalo do their best and the result is one of the better “AvX” tie-in issues I’ve read, but it will still be a huge relief to see them get back to business as usual in this title.