I just want to start off by saying that it's great to have artist Nick Bradshaw back on the title. His pencils are really fantastic and his artistic style meshes really well with the title. His style is a little bit cartoony and light hearted, and really manages to capture the tone of the book really well. The story opens with Quentin Quire who realizes pretty quickly that the school's teachers are missing. After feeling the exhilerating sense of freedom in having no one to tell him what to do, Quire opts to leave the school and see a circus that has just come into town. He and his peers realize pretty quickly just where their teachers have run off to, and it's definitely going to be interesting to see what happens with them. This issue serves as an introduction into this new story, but writer Jason Aaron doesn't cram the entire premise into one issue, so you are definitely left with some unanswered questions by the end of the issue.
This is not your typical X-Men story. You don't see a lot of the characters (Kitty, Storm and Wolverine) acting quite like themselves and it is an interesting angle to see. Although I am not crazy about the Hellfire Club characters I think that the way Aaron introduces and integrates them into this story isn't nearly as obnoxious as their appearances in previous issues.
This is another issue that deals heavily with the younger Hellfire Club members, which is a group of characters I personally don't find very entertaining. Aside from that, this issue is kind of strange. After the last issue of the series where readers are introduced to Shark-Girl (that one really felt like a filler), I was expecting the start of a new arc/story to be more exciting. I felt a little bit let down by the start of this issue. The concept of the X-Men at the circus is just not something I found really interesting, unfortunately.
It is unclear where in continuity this issue is supposed to be taking place. If you read this comic and then read ALL-NEW X-MEN #1, it's confusing as to when these events are supposed to be taking place.
So, I am not too crazy about the premise. I felt this issue, compared to previous issues just wasn't as good. Additionally, I think that although the comic is organized and well written, it does ignore where these events are taking place in the continuity of the X-Men universe. Some of the characters that appear in this issue (namely, Evan) shouldn't be here, at least not yet. Aside from the fact that it's hard to distinguish when these events are taking place, I do think the issue is structured well and is easy to understand, so it's perfect for new readers. It was also great to see Nick Bradshaw return to this title.