This was one of the more unsure reboots of the All New Marvel Now line as I had been a huge fan of Jason Aaron’s “Wolverine and the X-Men line,” but Jason Latour very, very quickly established himself as a writer to be reckoned with. Last issue gave us intense, sometimes hilarious, looks at where all the characters were to this point, and great insight into their characters and senses of humor. We even got glimpses of new, strange students, all of whom appeared to fit right in with the rest of the school. Which is to say they didn’t fit in well at all. The issue ended with a strange, horrible text message that tapped directly into one of the Battle of the Atom storylines I hoped wasn’t forgotten: Quentin Quire as the next possessor of the Phoenix Force. Latour’s done an amazing job of establishing his voice for these characters, while never betraying the voices that previous authors established, even if it is a little more playful than previously realized, even in serious moments. I particularly enjoy Storm not allowing Wolverine to leave on his own, giving him a litany of reasons why it’s a crappy thing to do to his students, and to himself. Wolverine’s interaction with his own, personal Bamf also bears special mention for humor, but I’d be remiss to not mention Evan questioning his role in all this as a surprisingly poignant moment amidst the more lighthearted humor.
Mahmud Asrar made a stellar debut last issue and continues his incredible work on the lines of this one. The action is always crisp and well-defined without question, even with liberal use of teleporters, and the characters all stand out wonderfully, defined by strong, thick lines. Israel Silva’s colors are vibrant, bright and extremely detailed with a lot of emphasis on the juxtaposition of light and dark. The fact that Quentin Quire’s t-shirt literally changes from page to page, and then someone makes a joke about how frequently he changes shirts, was also not lost on me.
This is a very insidery issue, especially considering its status as the second after a renumbering. While I appreciate how it picks up what I thought was the most interesting part of Battle of the Atom, it’s a little difficult to remember who is in what situation. While the characters are great, the story seems rote. A student is afraid of their destiny and runs away from the campus, only to be ensnared in a trap and needing rescue from the faculty. Obviously there are only so many stories to be told, but even the smaller details of this one seem like well-worn territory, particularly for this title, so I’m hoping a few wrinkles are introduced to set it apart.
Last issue was an amazing debut from a stellar creative team and this continues a lot of that momentum. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but they’re producing a consistently great product and have brought the focus squarely back on the students with the teachers as more of a support staff role, which feels like a step in the right direction. With so many X-books on the shelf, it’s critical to make each title’s focus justify its existence, and this book is so far two for two on that.