(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Jason Aaron
ARTWORK BY: Ramon Perez
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Laura Martin
LETTERING BY: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Time travel seems to be playing a very significant role in the Marvel Now universe and although this is not a time travel story in the way that say Age of Ultron is, this issue of Wolverine and the X-Men does rely at least in part on time travel. Written as an epilogue to the last arc, this story begins with Wolverine delivering a soul-baring speech to his students of the Jean Grey School. Heavy on self-criticism he takes the opportunity to thank his students for sticking it out with him especially in light of his perceived failure in the Savage Lands. He then goes on to illuminate his feelings toward the X-Men as his family. You can almost hear Wolverine’s gruff exterior crack along with his voice as he chokes back a tear when referring to his students as his children. This is a side of Wolverine that we rarely see and Jason Aaron is so good at showing us this softer side of Logan.
In a flashback to recent events we see Wolverine and Beast somewhere in the Canadian Rockies inside the cabin of Dog Logan, Wolverine’s time traveling half- brother. Though deserted they recover several items of interest particularly a locked box made of an unidentified metal that is far stronger and denser than any they have encountered. Beast deduces that the container must be the product of an advanced future technology. Frustrated by their many failed attempts to open the box Wolverine gives up but implores his friend, Dr. Henry McCoy, Beast to continue trying until he opens it.
Back to the present, Wolverine is wrapping up his speech which is to conclude with the burial of a time capsule. The students are placing objects into the capsule that is to be dug up in twenty-five years. Wolverine expresses his pride at being a part of the school before taking the shovel from Toad and doing the digging himself.
Twenty-five years later an old white haired and bearded Logan accompanied by four Night Crawler-like imps returns to the burial site of the time capsule, apparently a beeping has alerted them that it is time to retrieve the buried artifacts.
The Jean Grey School of the future is bustling with activity; crowds of exotic looking mutants make their way to various classes while the morning announcements are heard over the din of chattering students. The candidates for Homecoming King include Barry the Wendigo, C’vrrrk Bludskuul of The Brood, Warren Worthington IV and Kubrick Quire. The Homecoming Queen candidates include Charlene Xavier, Rose Logan, She-Sentinel 17 and Summer Grey. Some of these familiar names as well as the appearance of a very Ice Man looking Carmen Drake phasing through a wall are a rather fun glimpse into the future. Meanwhile Old Man Logan having excavated the time capsule and taken it to his office begins to unpack the contents within. He finds a t-shirt with the slogan “Cyclops Was Right” emblazoned across the front of it placed there by Kid Omega as well as a bible deposited by Idie Okonkwo among other items. The strange thing is that Logan has no memory whatsoever of bury the time capsule.
Now aboard Space Station X, a giant Sentinel head that has been convert to an orbiting space station, we find a forty year old Eye-Boy who rightly wants to be called Eye-Man. He is disturbed from his daily activities by an incoming teleportation from the Jean Grey School, Wolverine has come seeking answers. However this relatively simple tasks ends up in Wolverine and Eye-Man battling a rather expensive cadre of Archangel Bots. After the two X-Men have made a pricey pile of debris of the Bots Wolverine asks Eye-Man if he remembers burying a time capsule. Upon finding out that he does not in fact remember Wolverine informs Eye-Man of his plan to warn himself about “everything” including; The Hellfire Academy, Azazel, The Black Order, Mondo, Sabretooth, The New Brotherhood, The Apocalypse Crusade and Jean. Eye-Man cautions his friend and teacher that he can’t change the past without risking everything they’ve built. At this point Eye-Man is called a way to deal with some Science Vampires but before departing he tells Wolverine that his younger self doesn’t need any help from his future self. Wolverine considers these sage words before he retrieves a tube containing the key to unlock Dog’s box back in the present day. Once he returns he opens the box to find a pair of toy boats that he and Dog used to race against one another as children.
In the epilogue we see Idie bid farewell to Broo as she leaves with a shadowy figure to join the Hellfire Academy. Thus the die is cast.
This book is so different from Jason Aaron’s other work which is truly a testament to his versatility. He is more likely to lighten the mood here than in Thor or Thanos. The dialogue is crisp and well written the only thing close to a complaint I would have is that the cast is so big in this book that sometimes a great character is given a single line or overlooked entirely. Aaron is so familiar with Wolverine as a character that he has mastered his voice. When he writes dialogue for Logan it rings true. There is a lot going on in this title but it does not get bogged down under the weight of endless sub plots destined to never be brought to any kind of resolution. Jason Aaron is concise without being ambiguous and detailed without being needlessly pedantic. He is complex without being complicated. I think some people have a tendency to overlook Wolverine and the X-Men because they think of the Bendis books as the definitive X books but I believe they are missing out on some great stories by doing this. I suggest that you make room on your pull list for this book.
Ramon Perez is outstanding. Page after page his artwork brings these stories to life, even the mundane act of delivering a speech is enlivened by Wolverine’s facial expressions which Perez has mastered. The action sequences are dynamic bristling with a kinetic energy. He brings vivacity to this book that is enhanced by Laura Martin’s colors to the point of true vibrancy. The pages move.
In the end I would very highly recommend that you add Wolverine and the X-Men to your list right beside Thor: God of Thunder and Thanos Rising and if Jason Aaron starts writing anything else I feel confident that you should give that a try as well. Not only is he a gifted writer but he is a true story teller and that’s what separates the leaders from the pack.
So until next week, see you at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629