“Wolverine & The X-Men” #8 is less a story in its own right, but both a prelude and an epilogue combined in one comic. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo tie up a large dangling plot thread from “Wolverine & The X-Men” #4-7 here while a post-“Avengers vs. X-Men” story is begun even as it prepares to be set aside for a few months.
Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo tackle Wolverine’s twisted limbs from last month here; after all, if you’ve looked at all at “Avengers vs. X-Men” #1 you’ll know Wolverine no longer looks like an action figure that was microwaved and then promptly run over by a delivery truck — and with #9 being a tie-in to that big event comic, it’s not hard to connect the dots. That plot is entertaining enough with the core group of kids that Aaron is writing heading back to Planet Sin in search of a cure. It ends up standing out thanks to how Aaron is writing the reborn Angel. His self-assured nature that he is a real angel is turning out to have more bite than one would have originally thought; what seemed like it was just going to be a cheap joke is instead building towards something bigger.
We also get more scheming from the new Hellfire Club, whom Aaron is continuing to position as the major foe for “Wolverine & The X-Men.” The problem with that is that the new Black King isn’t that interesting; the concept of a 12-year old super-villain is much better than the actual execution. Aaron also feels like he’s giving his new bad guy too much too fast. The connections with other planets, long-time X-Men villains and every other attack on the team is a bit much. It’s too much of a hard sell and when we get the story of his latest assault on the team (which is presumably leading into more, post-crossover) it’s just not fun.
Bachalo’s pencils are, once more, all over the place. There are some fantastic drawings here; the opening splash of a returning villain, for instance, looks gorgeous with just the right level of detail on the clothes, the face, even the locks of hair sticking out in slightly different directions. Flip ahead two pages, though, and the scene with Beast and Wolverine feels cluttered and claustrophobic. There’s so much packed into those panels that it leaves impressive behind and just starts turning into a smear of the brown color that Bachalo decided to use for most of the page. It’s frustrating because I feel like when operating with a central image and clean backgrounds, Bachalo’s a natural. Angel dropping Wolverine is a great moment visually, one that sells the entire scene between Wolverine’s splayed limbs and his panicked expression — but turn the page and the assault on the space station quickly devolves into small panels that are tough at best to make out what’s going on. Sometimes, less is more.
“Wolverine & The X-Men” #8 ends up being the first “just all right” issue of the series; I can’t help but wonder if the timing of “Avengers vs. X-Men” ended up throwing off the issue a bit. It’s trying to accomplish a lot, but some pieces work better than others. Ultimately it’s not a bad issue, but the previous installments have made me (and I suspect most other readers) expect a lot more, that’s all.