Wolverine and the X-Men 30 is the official prelude to the Hellfire Saga, which is supposed to introduce the Hellfire Academy. This comic has several good ideas running through it. Idie’s motivations for joining the Hellfire club are not only well explained, but they work very well for her character. Kid Omega’s actions and motivations are also well done, as well as others’ reactions to what he’s up to. His scenes are the real highlight in this issue, and fans of his character will most likely enjoy today’s entry.
Beast’s continued search to find a way to help Broo is also a good read, even if it takes up too much panel time. The art isn’t bad, although it’s not flawless. The pencils and shading is great. There’s a lot of detail, character expressions are good and the backgrounds look great at times. The colouring feels a bit lazy on some panels though. Some characters appear a bit washed out, and sometimes the colours blend together a bit too much (especially with close-ups on people with brown eyes). Sometimes you can see Quentin Quire’s eyes through his glasses while other times they’re just a big white circle, and the same goes for Beast. Still, this is better art then we’ve seen at times in this series.
And then the issue’s problems arise. This comic is overcrowded with all these little plot details that distract from the main story. There’s a bizarre single panel about the bamfs gleefully drinking blood from Azazel’s arm that’s neither expanded on nor explained. There’s the slightly misleading intro featuring Wolverine and Rachel Grey Summers hunting for the Hellfire club, made worse by the fact that this scene was the comic’s entire preview yet it doesn’t show up again for the rest of the comic.
What bothers me the most about WATXM 30 is how several staff members of the Jean Grey School switch over to the Hellfire Club with little or no explanation. I can understand why Toad would move over, considering how much of the staff mistreated him since this title’s beginning, but why is Husk upset toward the Jean Grey School? She’s had all these leaps in characterization without rhyme or reason. She’s had virtually no character focus in this series, and the last time her character was explored elsewhere, she was still rather fond of the X-Men. I know little of her character, but I’m pretty sure she has a stronger will than this.
This series has a problem with this in general, trying to have all these major changes in characterization without showing actual characterization. It’s holding back a number of characters, and there are very few X-Men characters that don’t have their own fan bases. For a while Kitty Pryde was just kind of there, even if Jason Aaron wrote her fairly well. Most of the students are little more than wallpaper, including Glob, who has also left for the Hellfire Academy by the way. None of the new X-kids have had any serious character development, as they were thrown into the school and promptly forgotten about in favour of Wolverine’s bitter brother.
Another problematic aspect of this series is the strong focus on the pint-sized Hellfire Club. Sure, there are those who enjoy the Hellfire kids, but this is probably the most polarizing aspect about this series. I know of those who personally detest them, both in real life and through the internet. Even if you do like them though, you still have to admit they are inferior to the former Hellfire Club, as lead by the likes of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and Selene, among other famous X-Men villains. Now we’re about to name a Saga after the Hellfire kids, in hopes to compare itself to The Dark Phoenix Saga (which featured the debut of the original Hellfire Club) and the Dark Angel Saga. So far, this series is not worthy of being compared to those storylines – Jason Aaron has some hefty shoes to fill.
I want to like this series, I really do. There are a lot of great teenage X-Men characters that deserve to be in a teen book. Some of the best titles in the franchise are based on these young characters, including the original New Mutants series, Generation X (which I haven’t read much of yet), and even Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s New X-Men series was pretty good. I liked the first few arcs of WATXM, but lately it’s just been going downhill. The only good issues since AVX were the two that focused solely on one character each.
This issue has its ups and downs. The good parts of this issue represent Jason Aaron’s genuine talent as a writer. Kid Omega’s storyline is intriguing, and it saves this issue. WATXM 30’s problems represent the greater problems with this series as a whole. This is a great representation of what this entire series has been so far, but it’s a mediocre issue at best. Consider that a slight step up over some of the more recent storylines, but I know Jason Aaron can write better than this. If you’ve been enjoying WATXM so far, you’ll probably enjoy this one. As for myself, I’m going to read the Hellfire Saga, but there’s a strong possibility I’m dropping this title after that.