Last month’s issue of “Wolverine & The X-Men” was probably one of the best X-Men comics in a while, hitting all the right notes at just the right pace. This month’s follow-up is still good, but it’s hard to keep from feeling like the story is getting a tiny bit scattered.
I think the problem is that Jason Aaron is throwing a lot of different ideas at us, but never stopping to settle on one for too long. Sudden pregnancies, financial ruin, multiple alien attacks, the Hellfire Club, miniaturization tours of the mutant body… every time Aaron introduces another plot point, it feels like the previous one is being left behind before we’ve had time for it to fully register. And while some of them are clearly starting to connect as the issue nears its conclusion, it feels like it’s still not quite there. Kid Gladiator’s portion of the story, for instance, appears to be happening almost entirely in the background until it suddenly rears up and takes center stage. It’s something that has lost a lot of impact because it’s building off of a moment that I suspect a lot of readers missed the first time through, and not in a “we’ve secretly planted this plot thread and wanted you to not see it at first” manner.
When you take the long view for “Wolverine & The X-Men” #5, though, there is a lot to admire. The ideas behind Aaron’s story are big and crazy and slightly different, and on that level this issue is quite engaging. More importantly, even though the bits and pieces feel like they’re all over the place, Aaron instills a strong desire to see how this all plays out. So it might not be perfect, but you’re still hooked.
Nick Bradshaw’s pencils continue to look fantastic. I love the rich detail he packs into his pages; something as simple as Colossus’ knuckles look great here, and that’s before you get to moments like the invader in Kitty’s body being revealed, or Broo walking around with a suit and a pair of glasses. There’s a genuine joy in Bradshaw’s art, even when the material is grim, and I’ve quite quickly become a huge fan.
“Wolverine & The X-Men” #5 is really good, but after last month’s issue being fantastic, this issue feels like it’s stepped down a notch. Hopefully this is just “middle chapter syndrome” and the next issue will be up to the high bar set previously. There’s something nice about a comic where “really good” is a low point. Keep up the good work, all.