Wolverine and the X-Men 30-35
The Hellfire Saga
Author: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Hello true believers, I have a confession to make, I love the X-Men. The X-Men are the marvel family that I follow most closely, and have since Jim Lee and Chris Claremont released X-Men #1. I have been there for the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Wolverine and the X-Men launched when X-Men:Legacy (originally just X-Men) was canceled as a result of “Schism”. “Schism” felt forced like an editorial mandate that would shift the playing field. Wolverine and the X-Men is supposed to be one of the two twin pillars of the X-Men line, the other flagship title being Uncanny X-Men.
I am sad to say it is not. I have left these issues unread for months. There are always books you read first, and those that go to the bottom of the pile. I read these issues in preparation of “Battle of the Atom”. I even went so far as to marathon through these issues, hoping that there would be some redemptive qualities I could highlight. I haven’t been excited to read this title since the first ten issues, and have continued my patronage of this title out of a sense of duty rather than joy, an onerous obligation. Reading this arc has not made me rethink that assessment.
In a lot of ways this felt like stories Chuck Austen told during his run on Uncanny X-Men in the early 2000’s, take that as you will. Perhaps I am looking at this book in the wrong light, but after years of quality writing on the X-Titles across the board, the last few years have been disappointing with some of the auxiliary books. This now feels like an auxiliary book with X-Men, supplanted by All New X-Men. It is extremely disappointing because Jason Aaron has proven he can be a special writer in the past. I have no idea who his intended audience is. You can skew to a younger demographic without writing like this. See All New X-Men for a contemporary example.
The ingredients were all there for a great arc on paper; Hellfire Club, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Sauron, Sabretooth, Mystique, Dog Logan, the Siege Perilous. The end product was less than the sum of its parts.
Where are the X-Men? You barely see them, just the students, who aren’t particularly interesting. Mischaracterizations abound; Quentin Quire is a badass, he has always been written that way, here he is little more than fodder. He is written more like Hellion than Kid Omega.
Be forewarned as these books have been out for weeks to months, detailed spoilers follow.
Paige Guthrie being written like this is a crime. It seems since her Generation X days no one knows how to write her. First, Angel’s girlfriend way back when (she always worked better with Chamber), now as a someone who is crazy. The romance with Toad is cringeworthy, mostly because of the abuse he receives. She’s never been portrayed as mentally ill in the past other than in Aaron’s writing, and somehow repeatedly husking her makes her sane again, cures her molting problem, and Toad knew it would work the entire time? Sorry, this is beyond lazy, its stupid and is hardly the only time this happens. It is still unclear how Kid Omega’s formidable powers are being restrained.
Broo (mutant Brood who has a genius level intellect and is mild mannered/averse to violence) is “brain damaged”, after being shot in the face, and yet after surgery, he is physically fully recovered, yet still feral without his formerly endearing bookish personality. This is cured when he bites a Bampf. Yeah that makes sense. Also Nightcrawler’s return is foreshadowed, but poorly written. Somehow I doubt they have forgotten about you Kurt.
This isn’t really the Hellfire Club, this is the iteration created by Aaron in “Schism”. Kade Kilgore has never seemed like a credible threat. You want to see genius done right? Look at Amadeus Cho, it can be done. The new Hellfire Club comes across as little more than a joke or petty preteens. Kade’s infatuation with Idie seemed forced, as did her randomly deciding that she is going to date/hook up with Quentin. Her whole motivation for allegedly “defecting” was because she was in love with Broo. Yes, I didn’t get that either, but that was explicitly stated as the reason, so it makes perfect sense she hooks up with Quentin.
Snot is beyond obnoxious and a terrible sight gag, Maggot was a better character with more depth. Think about that for a second. Bampfs are used as hounds who are bribed with whiskey to track down the Hellfire Club. There are some cool moments, Bobby piloting a Voltron inspired Ice Monster, Krakoa’s fighting each other, but these moments are fleeting.
Save your time and read something else.
I give this storyline 1.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.