After not reviewing any of the first run of Wolverine & the X-Men, I knew I had to start off the second volume right and take a look at the first arc before I missed my opportunity again. The first volume was something I enjoyed, although I never really kept up with it as much as I should have. I’m going to try not to make that mistake again.
Therefore, here’s the first six-issue arc in volume two, a little thing called “Tomorrow Never Learns.”
Now I think most people, even before taking a look at the second volume, are going to be thinking that there’s no way that this new series, penned by Jason Latour, could ever match the high water mark of Jason Aaron’s fantastic first volume run and you know something? You’d be right. A few things have changed at the school, now Quentin Quire is a teacher, although he certainly doesn’t want to be, but for some odd reason, almost all of the regular teachers are either on vacation for the summer or stuck in space with a load of other students. So we get Quentin, whining about how he doesn’t want to be a teacher, they’re only giving him responsibility because they found out that he’s destined to be the next Phoenix. When a mysterious stranger shows up who knows the future, everyone has to re-evaluate Quire and the Phoenix Force.
Unfortunately, I think everyone is really pretty tired of the Phoenix Force by now, it’s been severely overused of late and a large portion of these six issues is spent with people who knew Jean Grey just angsting about the Phoenix. Jean is the Phoenix and nobody can ever take that away from her, waaah! Not like five people didn’t use the Phoenix Force during AvX. Not like Rachel hasn’t been the Phoenix off and on for decades. Nope, this is all a personal affront to Jean! Come on guys, move on already. And this whole Phoenix Corporation nonsense just doesn’t work for me, they could have cut it out entirely and not missed anything.
That’s really the problem though, in the Marvel Universe, we haven’t really seen that many books that just showed us the students in their day-to-day life at either the Xavier School for the Gifted, or the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Seeing these “quieter” moments is a lot more interesting to me at times than the big battles and the endless mutant hatred that has defined the X-books. The original Wolverine and the X-Men gave us a fantastic look at that, with humor and interesting characters and after its 42 issue run, we knew that the story couldn’t end there. I guess we were all hoping for more of the same here and, at least in this first story arc, it isn’t. Jason Aaron knew the characters and knew how to make them humorous. The same isn’t really true of Jason Latour. Oh, he has a good handle on Quire but for the rest, they’ve all become pale shadows of their former glory. Throw in the absurd overuse of time travel and future knowledge that Marvel has fallen into, especially in recent years, and with everyone knowing their “destiny”, we spend more time whining about how horrible the future will be than we do actually moving into that future. That’s a complaint leveled at the entire Marvel Universe, not just this book.
As for the characters, most are pretty typical for the book, they add a new one, Nature Girl (dumb name, sorry), who has antlers and talks to animals. I understand that a lot of the students at the school aren’t combat-oriented, they have some pretty bizarre powers, including the one covered with eyes, who continually makes eye puns. I did notice in the artwork thought that he was shown with eyes on top of his hair, which makes no sense whatsoever. At least try to think about how things would be realistically, please?
The art, while I don’t think it’s as good a fit as the original series, Mamud Asrar, Matteo Lolli, and Israel Silva do a serviceable job that, as time went on, I got used to and started to enjoy. The penciling is dynamic and there’s a fight between Faithful John and Fantomex that is truly gorgeous. The art isn’t perfect but I think it’s improving as time goes on.
I guess we couldn’t expect this to be as great as the first volume but I had slightly higher expectations than what we got. I’m sure there are growing pains and over time, hopefully it will improve. I hope Jason Latour finds the humor that made the first volume so much fun because in the end, that’s really what makes Wolverine & the X-Men great, it is fun to read and the characters are honestly enjoyable. So far, I’ll keep watching, hoping that it gets better.