Back when Wolverine and the X-Men started, there was a humorous page teasing a number of events for the students. One of them was a football game between the Jean Grey School and the Avengers Academy. This issue finally brings us that game, and it’s the most entertaining comic I’ve read this week.
This issue doubles as an aftermath issue for the Final Exam story arc. Mettle and Hazmat’s relationship difficulties are touched on, while this issue also highlights how much they care for each other. X-23 is in denial that killing Jeremy Briggs while barely conscious didn’t bother her, and Finesse has to decide whether or not to admit she used X-23’s claws to kill Briggs. The staff also discusses how to move the Academy forward, considering everything the kids have accomplished. Despite all the different points touched upon, this issue doesn’t feel the least bit crowded and there’s still plenty of room for clever humour. Iceman and Hawkeye are particularly entertaining throughout the issue.
In some ways, this almost feels like a Wolverine and the X-Men issue. As much as the Academy kids are the primary focus, there’s still room for the WATXM kids to shine. Rockslide has several awesome moments, while Wolverine and Kitty Pryde each have meaningful conversations with the academy staff. Gambit has some good panel time as well. Christos Gage seems has a good grasp on all of these characters and how they might interact with each other.
For the most part, the art is great – much better than this series usually has. It’s easy to tell every character apart, even when some have similar uniforms. There’s more background detail than usual for this series, and there’s more visual storytelling as well. My only complaint is that, once again, X-23’s eyes are brown when they’re supposed to be green. It’s a minor complaint, but it’s also a common pet peeve among X-23 fans. She’s been in this series for 13 issues now (first appeared in issue 23 but didn’t appear in 27 or 28). You’d think by now someone would figure this out. Otherwise, I can’t think of any complaints about the art.
Whether you’re an Avengers Academy fan or a fan of Wolverine and the X-men, this is an easy recommendation. It’s a very entertaining issue that still finds room for character development. It’s a shame this series is ending, because this issue showcases what Christos Gage is capable of.
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This couldn’t be a WatXM issue, because this had both great comedy and great characterization.
This is one of the funniest comics of the year. So many great lines, and plenty of good visual gags. Like the frizzy hair after Jocasta’s “Charging taser” panels. I loved Mettle’s “Don’t tase me, Jo!” line. That was awesome. Rockslide trolling Mettle was brilliant. Tigra calling Wolverine a “Molson-drinking, aboot-saying troll” was priceless (and if you notice, when Wolverine breaks out the beer, it’s Molson – Gage confirmed that it’s the Marvel U. version of Molson). Iceman and Kitty joking about her first costume was really good, too. Even Reptil got in on the fun, with his, “Grow my hair long and talk like Pepe le Pew. Got it.”
And then it had the moment between Finesse and Laura. Which was a great moment that showed great insight into both characters. Though I do confess to being disappointed that their friendship was over, because I totally would’ve read a team-up book of those two. The panel a few issues ago of the two of them in the Savage Land was one of my favourite panels of the year. Oh, well.
But I’m even sadder, now, that half the characters (Mettle, Hazmat, Laura, Reptil) are being moved to Arena. Gage has said the first issue of Arena is really good, but he also said people who hate the premise aren’t going to have their mind changed by it. But what’s disappointing is that this has been, from the start, a really optimistic title, while Arena, going by what we know, is meant to be really cynical. So it really sucks seeing characters I love go from an optimistic title to a cynical one.
This issue did also make me think Gage should take over WatXM. He can clearly write the characters, and he can clearly do really fun stories. And Aaron’s been really, really bad on that book. Sadly, Gage is going to be stuck on minis for the time being, with no current plans for him to be given an ongoing. That’s a mistake on Marvel’s part, and one I hope they’ll correct soon.
I’m going to give Avengers Arena an honest chance, just like all the other Marvel Now books. Sure, it does make me nervous, but Dennis Hopeless (the writer) is at least capable of great character work. Besides, I’m sure Marvel is smart enough not to make an ongoing series based completely on shock deaths, seeing how badly that turned out for both DC’s Countdown and Marvel’s own Ultimatum.
Looks like you don’t enjoy WATXM as much as I do. Apart from the AVX tie-ins, I’ve been enjoying the majority of the title. I don’t necessarily like the pint-sized Hellfire Club, but they don’t make me angry either. And sure, the characterization is rarely deep in the book, but it’s not meant to be deep. I can understand why some people don’t enjoy it, and yes Avengers Academy has been a better book overall. Even so, at least it’s not insultingly bad like Chuck Austin’s X-Men run was.
There aren’t too many writers who can tightly pack character development, story development and entertainment into a single issue for a team book, especially one like WATXM with dozens of regular characters. I would know – I’m an on and off fiction writer myself.
Right now, I can name Gage with AA, Gillen with UXM, David with X-Factor, Fraction with Defenders, Hickman with Fantastic Four and FF, Parker with Dark Avengers, Abnett and Lanning with New Mutants, Remender with UXF, and Wood with X-Men. All of them do character development, story development, and entertainment, in each issue. They may not be using dozens of regular characters, but really, neither is Aaron in WatXM. He has a rotating core cast that gets different focus at different times. But the characterization is almost always shallow, and the humour falls flat. He’s trying to be zany, but what’s worse, he’s trying to say, “Hey! Look how zany this is!” Compare that to Incredible Hulk, where he had cyborg Russian bears, and he played it completely straight. WatXM is the guy mugging for the camera, as opposed to the guy who lets his jokes speak for themselves.
So, yeah. I want Aaron taken off WatXM, and Gage put on it.
I will agree with you to a point. Some of the characterization in WATXM is rather flat. Toad and Husk are barely more than comedic wallpaper so far. A number of kids haven’t had any focus yet, including Rockslide. Mercury hasn’t had any dialogue yet … at all. Ide’s search for happiness is nice in concept, but it feels like Aaron is skipping out on all of her important developments.
When Jason Aaron does focus on a character for an issue though, it’s generally well done. The issue that focused on Broo’s repressed violent nature did a good job at exploring the darkness he is capable of. He is a Brood after all. Iceman has finally learned how to control multiple Ice forms, and he’s matured a bit since WATXM began (although that could have had more panel time).
As for the zany humour, I like that kind of humour when it’s not over the top, and through my bad movie watching phase I’ve seen much worse.
I’m not trying to convince you to like something you obviously don’t like – we’re all entitled to our opinions and personal taste. Also, I’m sure Gage could do a good job on WATXM – Avengers Academy is proof of this. All of the faults in his legacy run stem from the book’s planned cancellation, and he had to rush things to finish Rogue’s story that Carey started.