Green Globs and Popped Claws

For decades, Marvel has spun enough comics out of the X-Men concept to wallpaper Charles Xavier’s Westchester mansion, several times over. This includes student teams like Generation X, and alternate takes like X-Factor. At the moment however, five titles are actually called some variation of X-Men, and feature overlapping combinations of characters. As a reader with limited time and money, this should enrage me. But darn it if more than half of these comics aren’t addictive, solid reads.

Marvel’s only problem now is a balanced schedule. The week of September 26, 2012 sees Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men Legacy, Astonishing X-Men and plain old X-Men hit the stands. I’m frankly obsessed with writer Jason Aaron’s Wolverine-led book, so I’ll focus my full-frontal nerdity on his work.

I can’t meet this comic with enough gleeful anticipation, and definitely should have discussed it by now. Aaron, like kindred spirit Grant Morrison before him, has packed every cupboard and cranny of Xavier’s with personality. Except now, the mansion is called the “Jean Grey School for Higher Learning,” with Wolverine and Kitty Pryde running the show. On art detail, the writer’s been joined by walking legend Chris Bachalo, who helped establish that the school’s grounds are a living (and ferociously toothy) landscape known as Krakoa.

There’s also the hyper-talented Nick Bradshaw, who I’d say is possessed by the ghost of Arthur Adams- if the classic X-Men artist weren’t still alive. He brings a passion for riotous detail to Aaron’s table, and is by far the best interpreter of the writer’s freewheeling imagination. The motley batch of students aren’t easily forgotten, springing from every page in their bratty multitude: Broo (a young member of the vicious alien species the Brood), Quentin Quire (authority-hating hipster doofus), Kid Gladiator and Warbird (alien Shi-ar youths, restless for battle), and Idie (ingenue hauled in to make Kitty feel old).

Today’s issue is guest-drawn by Madman creator Mike Allred. It also stars Doop, the floating green glob that Allred conceived with Peter Milligan for the 2001 relaunch of X-Force. This creature’s gimmick (to not mince words) is that we can’t understand its hieroglyphic speech, and psychotropic mayhem follows in its wake. Since the start of this series, Doop’s been found staring creepily from behind a reception desk in the school’s lobby. At the insistence of murderous cyborg/philosopher Deathlock (Aaron’s kitchen sink, as it were), Wolverine explains that the pudgy green floater isn’t useless (despite being smeared at its station like a frat pledge), but utterly essential to the school’s success.

A series of flashbacks prove that Doop is quite the multifaceted…whatever it is. In trying to ditch Wolverine, who won’t stop asking for a commitment to the X-Men, Doop takes Canada’s hairiest export diving in icy water. Then they make headcheese, or {ahem} meat jelly, from the head of a pig. Tag team Mexican wrestling and an Andy Warhol film marathon follow. Still, Wolverine won’t quit the big green bean. What finally gets Doop to join the school is, well… I’d feel dirty typing it.

The issue, brightly colored by Allred’s wife Laura, is well worth your four bucks. Especially the fight against the League of Nazi Bowlers, the sexual bribing of school board members, and the charge with Howard the Duck against Robo-Barbarians. To be kept firmly in mind, however, is that this is a fill-in issue. Elsewhere in the series, when Kitty and the Phoenix-empowered Colossus have a “hot-date”, Aaron proves his heart is bigger than his brain. Someday, this run will stand alongside the early 80s work of Chris Claremont and Paul Smith, who made “Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” feel like a favorite fall sweater. Like a transporting comfort that might just be yours alone.

2 Comments to Green Globs and Popped Claws

  1. March 25, 2014 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Superb blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping
    to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..

    Any tips? Thanks!

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