When we last checked in with Wolverine and his team of X-Men at the newly opened Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, the representatives of New York's Department of Education.seemed poised to shutdown Headmaster Logan's operation before the end of its first day. And that was before the new Hellfire Club attacked them.
Issue two is pretty much wall-to-wall action with a few character moments interspersed throughout. This time around, Jason Aaron throws the bulk of the spotlight onto Iceman, a character who is usually depicted as either a loser/joker or an incredibly powerful omega level mutant, depending upon who's writing him. Aaron seems to be going for the later, as Bobby Drake does something with his mutant abilities that he's never tried before. And it's a fairly clever expansion of Iceman's powers on Aaron's part.
More notably, Iceman uses his moment of triumph to make a move on one of his female teammates, whom he has never previously expressed any romantic interest for. Bobby even says that he's acting on an impulse, but he could also be playing with fire. The woman in question is surprised, but she doesn't seem upset by the attention. However, someone close to her definitely takes offense and he takes some drastic action against Bobby.
There's another great moment between Idie and Broo, the young mutant Brood attending the school. It seems that Idie and Broo have an instant attraction despite coming from different species, and it's amusing when he assumes that the feelings she evokes in him are part of her mutant powers. This could be a really fun pairing.
Aaron also throws in some crazy ideas to throw up against the X-Men, including an army of Frankenstein monsters, a Sauron, a Wendigo and an old X-Men foe that hasn't been seen in years. But it was the Sauron in a business suit that I found to be really hilarious.
The downside of Aaron's script is that the main villains are still the Hellfire Club; who are still made up of crazy and homicidal genius kids, led by Kade Kilgore. The concept could have worked with less exposure. But between X-Men: Schism and their appearance in this book, the Bratfire Club needs to go away. I'm not rooting against them because they're great villains. I want Wolverine to slice them to pieces because they're beyond annoying.
I'm also less enthused about Chris Bachalo's artwork in this issue. Bachalo is capable of putting out some well rendered pages, but here some of his layouts are almost incomprehensible without several read throughs. Bachalo essentially sacrifices clarity for design and it doesn't work as often as it should.
Bachalo also has a tendency to give his characters a youthful appearance that makes almost everyone but Wolverine look like they're just getting out of puberty. If the girl kissed by Iceman was as young as she appears to be in this issue, he'd have to register as a sex offender in the state of New York.
Some of the quirkier characters like Broo and Kid Gladiator are well suited for Bachelo's sensibilities. But Rachel and Kitty should probably look a little older than Idie.
It's only the artwork that keeps me from giving Wolverine and the X-Men #2 a higher mark. This is one of the few X-Men books that's worthy of carrying on the tradtition of Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison. And with a more conventional artist, it could be unstoppable.
Crave Online Rating: 8/10