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A few weeks ago, Comixology had a 99-cent sale on Wolverine and the X-Men. In November, I expressed my displeasure with the pussification of Wolverine, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first eight issues of the series. It’s full of charming characters, great humor, and thrilling action. In a modern twist, the world of Wolverine and the X-Men has been brought to life (or cleverly marketed, depending on your point of view) through social media. Here’s a rundown of why I’ve been enjoying the series and its social-media tie-ins.
The Wolverine: I’m still annoyed that the formerly bad-ass Wolverine is now a school headmaster that’s pushing the agenda of mutants peacefully coexisting with humans, while Cyclops is heading up the militant faction. While he’s definitely part of the book and gets his name on the cover, the book really isn’t about him…and I’m totally down with that.
The Staff: Reading the faculty’s adventures and mingling has been more fun that reading about the headmaster. I’ve been a fan of the modern version of Kitty Pryde since Astonishing X-Men. Beast is always a delightful mix of brains, brawn, and a complex vocabulary; he’s been my favorite teacher thus far. As the first person that Wolverine asked to accompany him to the new school, Iceman is arguably the heart of the staff. I love that the book acknowledges his background as an accountant, though it seems like the “not living up to the potential of his omega-level powers” angle has been going on for decades. The school even gets special guest lecturers like Deathlok, who dazzled the class with ominous predictions in Future History 101. While they’re the people that are guiding the next generation of Marvel mutants, this book isn’t really about the teachers either.
The Students: Now this is what the book is about! It’s been so much fun meeting new students and seeing new characterizations of other young mutants. The troublesome Quentin Quire (Kid Omega) was (literally) roped into attending the school. It’s fun reading lines from a student that doesn’t want to be there; he reminds me of the “I Hate School!!!” people I knew. Idie Okonkwo (Oya) was a great character in X-Men Schism and I’ve enjoyed her continued development in this book. Kid Gladiator is a fantastic alien version of the jocular bully you knew in high school. My favorite student is Broo, the smart and innocent broodling whose sweet and naive heart masks an enormous potential for violence.
The students have characteristics that make them seem like super-powered archetypes of people we all knew in high school. They’re just written so well. It’s fun reading about characters with amazing powers that are unsure of themselves and trying to form their identities. It’s like taking the flame that is typical high school insecurities and dousing it with the fire that is being a mutant in the Marvel Universe.
The Villains: Also from the pages of X-Men Schism, the new Hellfire Club returns. These guys (and gal) are a guilty pleasure. There’s just something funny about a quartet of brilliant, wealthy, and murderous children that hate mutants. There’s no way that this team should work, yet it does — delightfully so. These young psychopaths are every bit as charming as the young students they’re trying to scar (killing them would be counterproductive to the immensely profitable selling of Sentinel robots to mutant-hating governments).
The Writing: Jason Aaron has rocketed to the top of my list of favorite comic-book scribes. Like many of my other favorites (Michael Bendis, Mark Waid, Joss Whedon, Peter David, etc.), Aaron’s dialogue is snappy and humorous. His characters are deep and interesting. Unlike most writers that are known for great characterization, Aaron is also good at plotting out exciting action sequences. It’s rare that a writer excels at both.
The Social Media: To breath life into the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Marvel set up this nifty web site that has cute class descriptions and staff bios. Following the Twitter accounts of the staff and students adds to the fun of the comics. Here are some of the peeps you should follow.
- Official School Account (@JeanGreySchool): These are mostly updates from Headmistress Kitty Pryde, though other faculty members occasionally send out tweets. Stay up to date on Bamf-related damage and injuries (and a whole lot more) with this account.
- Quentin Quire (@QQuire): Get the latest on militant uprisings, like Quire’s movement against “the draconian dietary restrictions regarding tater-tots,” by following the school’s resident troublemaker.
- Broo (@_Broodling_): Cute and insightful tweets from the smartest kid at school…that doesn’t really have a clue.
- Idie Okonkwo (@idie_okonkwo): Like the girl in school that always told you how much she hated herself, these tweets are from a nice young girl that’s convinced she’s a monster.
Check out the entire listing of Jean Grey School-related Twitter accounts here.
The Conclusion: So yeah, to my surprise, I totally love this book. The writing is stellar, the art is fantastic, and the characters are wonderful. Even though it’s a marketing function, I love that the school and the characters are given additional development through social media. I highly recommend giving the comics and Twitter feeds a read. If you’re already a fan of the book, please leave a comment and let me know why you dig it. Lastly, Broo rules!