Crossing the Aisle-Part 1

I’ve been a fan of super heroes of all kinds for a long time. From childhood I loved Batman: The Animated Series and the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons on Fox Kids. As I got older I fell in love with the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Superman film franchises. I even got hooked on Smallville. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started actually reading comic books. When I finally breached the daunting wall into comic-dom something interesting happened. While I had always been a fairly equal fan of DC and Marvel, I slowly became more and more a DC fanatic. Something about DC comics interested me in a way that Marvel didn’t and for the last 3 years I have become further and further entrenched in the DC camp. I’ve read a few Marvel books over the years, Civil War, Earth X, and some of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men to name a few, but it was usually at the recommendation of my friends who were avid Marvel Zombies. Recently I’ve been testing the Marvel waters on my own. I’ve started following Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four through trades, and I’ve read Planet Hulk and the first volume of Annihilation, both of which I picked up for cheap at C2E2. This week I took the next step, and a big step for me at that; I purchased my first Marvel monthly book.

In this piece, titled “Crossing the Aisle”, I will be chronicling my grand experiment with Marvel Comics. The Marvel books I read won’t get factored into the monthly power rankings as I would like to keep those strictly DC, at least for now. So I’m sure you’re wondering at this point what book could make me break my streak of only buying DC comics for 3 years? The answer is Wolverine and The X-Men #1, by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo.

For anyone not familiar with what’s currently happening in the X-books , an X-event called Schism just recently wrapped up. Also written by Aaron, this story saw the X-Men split in half. I haven’t actually read Schism so I can’t comment on the factors leading to the split, but the result is one group of X-Men siding with Cyclops on the island of Utopia, while the others side with Wolverine. Of the 8 X-books involved in the aftermath of Schism, dubbed Regenesis, 4 deal with Cyclops’ team and 4 deal with Wolverine’s. Here are the book/team breakdowns:

If you don’t recognize all the characters or teams don’t feel bad, neither do I. I’ve always been a casual X-Men fan, I know the major characters and some of the more well know story lines. I’ve always been interested in getting into X-Men comics but to me they’re some of the most intimidating books to get into, due to extremely large casts and continuity heavy stories. I saw this Regenesis event as an opportunity to try to jump on board. The two main books for each side are Uncanny X-Men for Cyclops and Wolverine and the X-Men for, well, Wolverine. These are the two that I’ll definitely be trying. Uncanny and Wolverine are both starting at #1, which is another great incentive for a new reader.

So how was Wolverine and the X-Men #1? In a word, refreshing. This book was just plain fun. Striking a tone very similar to what I’ve read of Morrison’s New X-Men, Aaron tosses crazy ideas out there and they all stick. The basic premise of the book is that Wolverine has taken over Xavier’s School, renaming it the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. That’s right, Wolverine is now the headmaster at a school for mutant children. Some might scoff at this idea, but it works out perfectly. Aaron uses a tour of the school by government officials as a way to introduce the reader to the characters and the school itself, which is a great idea in my opinion. While I didn’t recognize all the characters, they were all interesting and I can’t wait to find out more about them. The school itself is almost a living character, with fire-breathing toilets and buildings made of crystal. Artist Chris Bachalo handles all the diverse characters and spectacles wonderfully. I’ve never seen his art before, but in one issue he’s become one of my favorite artists. One of the things I loved about this comic was how full it felt. A common problem I see in the single comic book issue is that they just don’t have enough substance. After finishing this issue I was left wanting more, but not because of the brevity of the story. Some of my favorite books are those that know how to mix levity, humor, and serious super heroics, such as Keith Giffen’s recent run on Doom Patrol. Wolverine and the X-Men reminds me very much of that book, which makes me enjoy it all the more.

To me, Wolverine and the X-Men was a rousing success, and I’m definitely going to follow along. This week sees the release of Uncanny X-Men #1, and I hope that Cyclops’ team fares as well as Wolverine’s.

Wolverine and the X-Men #1 Rating-9.5/10

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