Wolverine and the X-Men #1 is a good comic. It is in many ways close to the verge of being a great comic. But it isn’t great.
What works about the comic? The school as fantastical setting: the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning (a nice touch on the name, incidentally) is very plainly the Marvel Universe’ equivalent of Hogwarts in a way that the X-Men’s various schools have never really been: Jason Aaron really plays up the crazy nature of the place as he takes the Obsequious Norms (not their real name, but it might as well be) on a Logan-and-Kitty-guided-tour of the school grounds, and it is purely entertaining and light in a way that the X-books rarely are. In terms of voice, Aaron nails all of the X-characters (not unexpected). His new tweaks (like Kid Gladiator) are largely welcome.
What doesn’t work? Well, the Obsequious Norms, who are of course the human fuddy-duddies who are sort of bigoted towards mutants and all scowly and you know that after one or two issues of being frightened out of their wits that they’re just gonna come around or there will be some sort of plot twist. It’s like, after coming up with this fantastic setting, Aaron decided to go with something as conventional as was possible. Seriously, this was like something out of a bad sitcom. (“Starring Tim Allen as Wolverine!”)
What kind of works? Chris Bachalo’s art. Bachalo sells the fantastic setting and the fantastic characters, and his draftsmanship just keeps getting better (I swear I see more and more George Herriman in his pencils with each passing year). But he’s not good in this book at going small, at selling the small, conversational moments in the comic. (And he has done this well before, so it’s not something Bachalo can’t do.) Kitty Pryde – who spends the issue trying to convince the Obseqious Norms that really this is not a nuthouse on par with The Muppet Show – doesn’t look right at any point during the issue. Oya’s scene – which should be at least a little devastating, from the dialogue – comes across as purely comedic instead of dramedic because Oya spends the entire page with a Stepford grin on her face. And the final confrontation between Kade Kilgore and Wolverine loses much of its dramatic impact because Kilgore spends all of it striking silly, overdramatic facial expressions instead of just standing there and being a cool bastard like he’s been shown to be previously.
Don’t get me wrong: the good vastly outweighs the bad here, and the bad is mostly a matter of personal taste more than anything else. But it’s enough that I can’t say outright that it’s a great book. It’s good, and for now that’s enough.