After the end of Wolverine & the X-Men, which I reviewed the end of recently, someone needs to fill the void and who better than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? He’s sent on a special mission by Wolverine, before Wolverine died, to root out a traitor in the midst of the worst class at the Jean Grey school by teaching them how to be responsible. With great power and all that.
But can he succeed? Can he survive? Because someone at the X-mansion is gunning for Spidey… no, pretty much everyone at the X-mansion is gunning for Spidey, who is going to get him first?
Here goes my review of the 6-issue series, Spider-Man & the X-Men.
Spidey ends up being teacher to the “special ed” squad, Hellion, Rockslide, Glob, Shark Girl, No-Girl and Ernst. However, these can hardly be called a team, they’re all very dysfunctional, they doubt themselves and, of course, one of them is a traitor, set to betray the entire school. As challenging as that may be, nobody else really wants him there, Storm hates him, Phoenix wants to mind-probe him and Beast thinks he just doesn’t belong. Can he whip his class into shape, find the traitor and save the day? Hey, it’s Spider-Man, of course he can!
This is a very light-hearted book, full of quips and in-jokes, much like the original Wolverine & the X-Men. There’s never any thought that someone might die or be seriously injured, they come back from space with Glob strapped to the front of their escape pod and he’s just fine. A few bandages and everyone is back on their feet in no time.
If there is a criticism to be had, the characterization of many long-running superheroes would be it. Now granted, a lot of it comes down to the particular take of the particular writer and all of these characters have been all over the place, but Spider-Man, especially when interacting with Beast, just doesn’t feel right, but Beast is just as bad. Storm, the experienced leader of the X-Men, feels petty in her abject hatred of Spider-Man from the very first page. The same with Rachel Summers. Granted, they’re all background characters in this tale but still, that’s not how they act.
The writing is a bit uneven, Elliott Kalan, a writer from the Daily Show, shows he doesn’t really get some of the characters, or he doesn’t really care if he needs them to act out of character to get the story he wants. Artwise, we start out with some great art from Marco Failla, but in issue #4, there’s a noticeable and not altogether positive change to R.B. Silva, who gives it a sillier take that I didn’t particularly like. I’d have been happier to remain with Failla throughout.
In the end, this is a tale of misfit heroes coming into their own and becoming the team they needed to be. They found their strengths, dealt with their weaknesses and in the end when we found the “traitor”, it wasn’t as bad as they had built it up to be, it was all about friendship, even though it was misguided. Over time, it might have flourished into something great, but Secret Wars, the spoiler of all things, put an end to that.