Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron Volume 5

Collecting Wolverine & The X-Men #19-24

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Steve Sanders, David Lopez

Marvel Comics, $17.99, color, 136 pages

I'm still enjoying Wolverine & The X-Men, but this collection is a low point so far.

First, the most glaring complaint: No Chris Bachalo. As I said in my previous reviews, I grin ear to ear when Bachalo does the comic -- and when he doesn't, I see the cracks in the concept more readily. The new artists (see above) are OK, but they're no Chris Bachalo.

As to the stories, Aaron continues to go out of his way for situational and verbal humor. But it's wearing a bit thin here. Two professors go on a date, but where I assume I was supposed to find it charming, I found it a bit dull. And Storm returns as a professor, and I think I was supposed to cheer, but again I kinda went "meh," as it's a step backward for the character -- especially since she returns to the Mohawk look that was inexplicable (and ugly) the first time she did it. And worst of all, there's a two-parter that essentially reworks Uncanny X-Men #111, when the team is hypnotized into being circus performers, without really adding anything new. Unless you count the ringmaster being Frankenstein's monster and not Mesmero as new, since it's a different Frankenstein's monster than the one the team fought in 1968 (The X-Men #40).

But, OK, it's still a pretty entertaining comic book. There's a nice set piece where Kitty interviews various characters to be professors, ranging from Blade to Dr. Nemesis ("How liberal is your policy on shooting children in the face with hypodermic needles?"). There's a throwaway bit where Swarm attacks, but instead of being the cover-featured villain of the month, Krakoa takes him out before the X-Men are even aware of him ("Why is the lawn hitting me? ... Sting the grass! Sting the grass!"). And so forth.

So, yes, the book can be utterly charming on occasion. Those occasions are few and far between in this collection, though, and I hope Aaron (and Bachalo!) rebound in the next one.

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