This issue continues the new adventures of Wolverine and the X-Men, or rather those who decided to follow him back to the East Coast, and rebuild the old school into the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters. Jason Aaron manages a rare feat here, in that although I absolutely hate the villains and don’t enjoy reading them at all, the actual fight sequences in the book are quite enjoyable and keep the issue moving briskly. It’s an intriguing situation.
Picking up where the last issue left off, the X-Men’s school is attacked on its opening day, interrupting an official visit by two Department of Education officials. As the new Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club orchestrates the attack from a position not far from the grounds of the school, the school’s faculty tries to protect the students while fighting off Frankenstein monsters, mutated Department of Education officials, and the school grounds itself. Jason Aaron gives fans of Iceman the moment they’ve been waiting for since the early `90s, when it was first shown that Iceman was barely tapping into his higher potential. Here, he does something new with his powers, which is actually pretty cool, although if the writers aren’t careful it could start feeling like watching Multiple Man with ice powers. I hope it isn’t going to be done all the time, and only in intense situations, like Human Torch’s Nova Blast: something that is incredibly effective but also takes a lot of energy and quite a toll on Johnny Storm.
Since the issue is essentially one long action sequence, the success or failure of the issue on the whole is left in the hands of Chris Bachalo, who does a brilliant job capturing the storytelling flow of the script. Now, some of the characters themselves do look a little weird, and reminds me of Bachalo`s artwork from a few years ago as opposed to some of his more recent stuff, particularly how he depicts Iceman. But the action sequences themselves are brilliantly put together, with some great panel composition. The manner in which he constructs his pages, with panels going sideways or diagonal and playing with perspective and shadows, makes this issue a visual feast for the eyes.
Despite my not liking the new Hellfire Club Inner Circle at all, this issue is still very enjoyable for telling a great action-oriented tale of Wolverine and his peers trying to save the new school they’ve just built, as well as the students currently in their charge.