Husk fans are going to hate this comic, as will any lovers of subtlety and clever humour. Today’s Wolverine and the X-Men is a stark contrast to Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder 9 (which is simply awesome). This is probably the worst comic I’ve read since Sabertooth Reborn, and it pains me to say that considering how much I enjoyed this series when it first kicked off.
The biggest problem with the Hellfire Academy is that there is no subtlety whatsoever. In the very first class, Mystique flat out tells everyone that they’re being trained specifically to be super villains. Half the kids in the class obviously don’t want to be super villains, which begs the question, why aren’t they trying to escape? What kind of teenager going through significant physical changes would even want to be evil? The majority of the comic is just a running gag of different courses teaching these kids different aspects of being as evil as possible with the teachers threatening their lives in various ways. All the teachers have the same voice and personality. The gag isn’t funny; it feels like little more than self-parody and it gets old fast.
The only new character that’s given any kind of introduction is Snot, a young mutant whose sole power is shooting mucus out of his nose. This just feels childish, and he’s little more than the second running gag in this issue. His only personality traits are that he sucks at everything, and that he wants to be friends with Kid Omega. The other kids have somewhat interesting powers, but they each get one or two lines each.
The staff is probably the worst part of this comic though. First of all, why is Mystique here? She’s the kind of villain that just does what she wants – she’s not one to work for anyone else. It’s also been a long time since she’s cared about mutant affairs – her motivations are purely selfish these days.
And then there’s Husk, one of the main kids from Generation X. WATXM has done little to develop her character – she’s gone from someone who has been having trouble with her powers, but still believes in Xavier’s dream, to becoming fully supportive of the Hellfire Club despite not having any reason to hate Wolverine’s school or staff. She might be upset at being fired (well … she perceived it that way), but how does that elevate into verbally assaulting kids and handing out death threats when she’s had no history of domestic abuse?
The other teachers aren’t any better. How exactly is Windigo a teacher? Isn’t he supposed to be a feral monster of little intelligence? How did he even instruct the kids to duel each other? Come on Windigo, you’ve fought the Incredible Hulk – why are you fooling around with a bunch of kids?
What is with Mondo? Is it the original Mondo disguising himself as Mojo with boobs, or is this a new Mondo who’s just Mojo with boobs? If you’re going to go that route, why not just use the original Mojo? Who exactly is this Philistine guy and why is this apparently cosmic powerhouse working for kids? And don’t get me started on the dude with demon hands.
Some of the villains kind of work: Dog Logan I get, Sabertooth … kind of, and Dr. Xanto Starblood? Jason Aaron created him, so he can do whatever he wants. Still, I’m not sure why an intergalactic scientist who’s written several successful books cares about this little school on Earth.
The issue’s cliffhanger simply feels forced – nothing else to say without spoiling it. There’s also a little scene where Wolverine starts declaring that the Jean Grey School is finished. We all know it’s not, and Wolverine feels uncharacteristically weak minded in this scene. As with the very first issue of Wolverine and the X-men, there’s a class list after the last page, but it just further emphasizes this issue’s unfunny jokes.
As bad as this issue is though, there are a few things that work. The art is very good. The scene with Wolverine and Rachel Grey Summers hunting for the academy is alright. Kid Omega’s motivations for joining the school make sense, and his scene with Idie does elevate this issue a bit. While there’s a lot to hate in this issue, I still find myself rooting for Kid Omega and Idie. Aaron’s been doing both of these characters a lot of good since the start of this series. Too bad he’s completely ignoring the rest of the X-Men kids.
The sad part is that if written differently, this kind of storyline could have worked. If Jason Aaron was to write this in a more serious manner, and without the Hellfire Club kids, this could have been a delightfully dark comic. The contrasts between Wolverine’s school and the way a Mystique/Sabertooth would run school sounds like an intriguing concept. It’s just that, while Jason Aaron’s writing can be fun, he doesn’t seem to have the right kind of talent for the mood this comic is trying to set.
It doesn’t need to be said at this point, but I really don’t recommend this issue. There is way too much stupid contained in 20 pages found within. The new kids are dumb and most of the staff feel completely out of place. The whole comic is a poorly-written zany satire that feels more like Disaster Movie than an X-men comic.