Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #8

Wolverine and the X-Men #8 By Aaron / Bachalo

Lauded by most for its humerus properties, this weeks eighth issue sees Rick Remender's Wolverine and the X-Men take a decidedly darker tone. Given his status as arguably Wolverine's greatest foe it must have been a case of when, not if, Sabretooth would show up, relatively recent death notwithstanding. What is perhaps more of a surprise however, is that his appearance in this issue sees him pursuing the girlfriend of the Beast, at the behest of the revamped (and disturbingly youthful) Black King of the Hellfire Club, 12 year old Kade Killgore.

The shift in tone is surprising, and a little jarring, but not unsuccessful. Plotlines introduced in a comical manner are dealt with more seriously here - Angel's psychosis for example, and Aaron manages to fit in comedy too. Ultimately this proves to be the books downfall however. Aaron does not seem content with sticking to one main plot per issue, a tactic that works on occasion but only serves to detract from the two main plotlines here. The storytelling feels a little choppy, and neither is given the attention that it deserves. It would be unfair to label either as a failure however - the students raid is handled with the energy and dynamism typical of this series, and Beast's battle with Sabretooth is grim and tense. The problem is that both could probably have carried an issue in their own right.

Chris Bachalo's art is an enigma. He is capable of terrific work, and excels at times in this issue - his fantastic cover for example. He does, however, sometimes struggle to rein in the excesses of his jumbled style, and his storytelling capabilities often suffer as a result. This issue is typical of his work, beautiful on occasion but not quite clear enough to make for a wholly satisfying read.

Jason Aaron's attempt to bring a little more seriousness to this series has to go down as a success. The seeds have been sown for future conflicts, and Sabretooth works well as a menacing, unrelenting adversary, helping to bring out a side to Beast's character that is too often ignored. This issue is something of a missed opportunity however - it's individual elements work very well, but Aaron seems too eager to include them all, even when it is to their detriment. Sometimes less is more, an adage that is all too true here.


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