Thursday, 31 May 2012

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #11

Wolverine and the X-Men #11 By Aaron / Bradshaw 

Perhaps more than anything else, the best way of judging a series on the up is in the way that it handles a crossover. Far from shying away from slotting this title into a much bigger conflict, Jason Aaron has managed to deliver yet another solid instalment in its tie in with Avengers Vs X-Men. After a couple of months of umming and aahing, this issue finally sees Wolverine and the X-Men joining the conflict proper, the X-Men team taking on the Avengers while Wolverine helps Hope to escape from Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Although the issue's dramatic conclusion has already been played out in the core Avengers Vs X-Men series, this issue does an admirable job of revealing the thinking behind Wolverine's decision.

While the core series, at times comes across as a somewhat slapdash, unsubstantial read, it is issues like this that do a better job of sketching out the character beats behind the - admittedly somewhat sluggish - action sequences that have punctuated the crossover so far. It is the sequences that pander to the main series that come across as weakest though, and even a writer as talented as Jason Aaron struggles to make the superhero brawls of this issue particularly interesting. What appears to be the crossover's selling point - The Avengers taking on the X-Men - has become diluted and fails to grab the imagination at roughly the story's halfway point.

It is predictably in the characterisation that Aaron really shines, and as with the rest of the series he manages to balance out the cast relatively evenly. Wolverine takes centre stage, but that is to be expected and Aaron does manage to put a newish spin on a character who is all too often reduced to little more than a poorly fleshed out caricature. Even if his decision at the end of the issue has already been spoiled, by providing the logic behind it Aaron manages to make it feel fresh and interesting.

Nick Bradshaw takes over from Chris Bachalo on art duties once more, and impresses more than in his previous stints on the series. His style lacks the abstract qualities of Bachalo's work, but is much clearer and easier to follow. His layouts are more strictly regimented too, but once again this makes for an plot that is simpler to read than some of Bachalo's more obtrusive efforts.

When left to its own devices this is an issue that shines and it is only when it gets too bogged down in the wider mechanics of the crossover that it becomes a little tiresome. Even when taken simply as a regular issue in this series though this issue manages to work surprisingly well, and even benefits from the weighty, epic nature that the storyline has been given. Solid work.


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