Wolverine and the X-Men 25

FIELD TRIP!!!

1st Period: Math

Welcome to the Savage Land. Professor Pryde will be instructing you why that is a classist, xenophobic, anglo-centric name, but while I’ve got you, we’ll be talking about Wolverine and the X-Men #25.

Let’s get to it:

A = (I+D) + (Broo – LOGic)

B = Shark + Eye + Sprite

B = Karma + Mirage +Sunspot + Wolfsbane + Cannonball

C = Quire + 1

C = President

D = Logan * 2

A + B + (C – 1) + D = (W + X25)

Let Professor Drake know if you understood any of that.

2nd Period: Ethics

Today we’ll be considering what it takes to be a teacher. The word often conjures up images of a nurturing middle aged woman, a harsh old schoolmarm, or a tweed clad academic, lost in his books. But obviously none of this is essential to the teaching profession; look at Headmaster Logan.

Last issue we saw our beloved headmaster (no, no, headmaster. Good enough) recruit a new Headmistress and renew his commitment to the cause of educating the next generation of mutants. As this issue’s recap page reminds us, though the X-Men remain divided, Wolverine is no longer one of two programs trying to provide safety to the world’s remaining mutants. Indeed, the Utopia students have returned to Westchester, joined by a number of newly emerging mutants.

To this end Logan provides a kind of remedial class, meant to whip even the most unwilling, naïve, or untrained mutant into shape. Logan’s teaching methods leave something to be desired, but his strength as an educator is evident. We see his concern for his pupils and his understanding of how to motivate them. Indeed, what made the founding of the Jean Grey School seem like a good idea was the realization that for all his gruffness, Logan is more in touch with his feelings and the notion of a happy childhood than Ol’ Slim Summers. Perhaps that’s because Headmaster Logan had his childhood snatched from him loudly, while Scott found his childhood happiness in being a soldier.

But the best of intentions are never sufficient. Logan acknowledges that he’s not a natural fit to teaching. In fact this short arc of Logan coming back to properly teaching nearly comes to an abrupt end when the Canucklehead decides that he’d be better off leaving “the teaching to people like Hank and Ororo”. It looks however, that Logan will be dealing with some family matters next month, and that can often help in getting perspective on problems in one’s career.

Nonetheless, Logan makes some good points. He’s committed patricide and filicide about as many times as he’s had the chance and any man who founds a school based on the notion that children shouldn’t have to kill while working side by side with Deadpool on a wetworks squad clearly has issues, perhaps too many to be offering advice and guidance to troubled mutant teens. And then there are the complicating factors. Does it make a difference that Logan was unaware of his relations’ identities when he killed them? Is it better or worse to assassinate someone believing that killing is wrong and polluting? Are some lives worth more than others and if so, what degrades the value of a human life? And who is it worse to kill, someone important to many loved ones or someone important to history. If those sound like easy questions to you, you’re better off than me. I encourage you to share your thoughts in comments. Your homework for tonight: Is Wolverine fit to be a teacher and whose needs did you make your decision based on, the children’s or Logan’s.

Class dismissed.

3rd Period: Psychology

Logan’s not the only one dealing with his shifting responsibilities. Idie, ever self-persecuting, is committed to taking care of Broo, believing that her brief dalliance with Quentin Quire is the cause of Broo’s condition (which is suddenly normal, as if they didn’t end last issue with a cliffhanger). Her bizarre girl-and-her-dog/friend/possible love interest story is interesting but doesn’t get the time it deserves. I love Idie, I think she’s adorable and tragic and wonderful, but she needs room to breathe. Her struggle needs the time to be a heartbreaking tale of internalized racism. As of now, she just monologues to herself about her sins and how wicked she is once again.

Genesis is still dealing with the abuse of his classmates, trying to convince them that he’s not Apocalypse, while Glob Herman, likely speaking for a chunk of the readers, is fed up with this insistence that he won’t become a supervillain. Shark Girl finds herself in a somewhat similar situation, fighting not the perceptions of others, but the temptations of her mutant nature. Broo’s responsibilities have also changed; they’re less of a ‘solve this complex equation’ responsibility and more of a ‘fetch’ kind of responsibility.

More than any of them, there’s Quentin Quire. After the circus of evil fiasco, Logan’s got Quire figured out. For all his talk of mutant revolution and an end to bigotry, Quire’s been out in the real world precisely once, and it led to the X-Men falling apart and a new era of anti-mutant hysteria. At the heart of it, Quire’s a college nihilist (minus a few years). He talks a big game and pretends to be snarky and ironic and cynical, but he’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to and without an audience he has no reason to keep up the act. He’s a big softy, just like Logan, so he’s getting some extra responsibilities around the school. I’m personally thrilled with this development. It’s only mildly clever this issue, but I expect it will lead to great things for the series, both co medically and dramatically.

As it always has, the world of mutants is changing around them and, for all of Wolverine’s efforts, he can’t give them a truly normal life. But, as you’ll see next period, that’s not all bad.

4th Period: Earth Sciences

I’ll admit, this class isn’t for you, it’s for me. But who would I be if I didn’t stop to discuss this. No!  I must! Every past and future variation of me would cry out in anger if I didn’t. So indulge me, if you would; it’s just one class.

DINOSAURS!!!

Ramon Perez sure can draw some pretty paleoart. In fairness, paleoart might be a bit much, I mean there’s not a drop of science anywhere near these terrible lizards, but they are pretty. So much as it bothers me on some level that we’re still living in a world where our comics include enormous, feather-less raptors with broken wrists and an inaccurate number of claws on every limb, I enjoy seeing mutants fighting dinosaurs. I mean, I still have and add to my collection of Carnegie dinosaurs, but I can appreciate a Papo too. Besides, this is the Savage Land; these are dinosaurs breathing air with modern levels of CO2! Maybe increased volcanic activity and ozone depletion favored larger, featherless dinosaurs in order to deal with the heat.

Perez has a weird way of drawing saurian nostrils, but, in the end, he captures the qualities that attract us to dinosaurs, these huge, forgotten creatures from an alien earth, mixing intelligence and ferocity into a beautiful and terrifying reptilian form that challenges our very concept of mammalian supremacy. His T-Rex is everything Jurassic Park promised it would be and the decaying Camarasaur is morbidly beautiful.

My biggest complaint isn’t about the scientific inaccuracies, it’s, as many fine nerd objections are, a matter of relative strengths. While Kid Omega is absolutely right when he describes being trapped in a prehistoric jungle as “practically a rite of passage” for young X-Men, I’m hardly convinced when Logan insists that “most of these kids could handle [a jungle full of dinosaurs] in their sleep.” I admit that we’ve exaggerated the theropod dinosaur into some perfect killing machine in our societal consciousness, but I’m not sure I believe that they’re so unimposing that a group of eight teenagers could easily survive an island full of them. I mean, one of their powers is having extra eyes! Without Kid Omega’s ability to make a T. rex do his bidding, I’d be concerned for them (by the way, can he keep him? Additionally is he devil dinosaur? And, if not, why hasn’t someone written a marvelous reinvention of the character in such a fashion?). Logan, admittedly, does imply that he doesn’t expect them to survive indefinitely and that separating drastically increases their chance of injury or death, but still, he’s confident enough to stab a T. rex standing next to them and run. The point I’m trying to make here is homework sucks, but at least your teacher isn’t trying to kill you (or, for college students, yeah your professor isn’t trying to kill you, but at least Logan isn’t a pretentious jerk).

It’s a fun use of the Savage Land concept, not so dissimilar from the less awesome Circus of Frankenstein from a few issues back. Most importantly, the setting suits the characters. In this so-called “Savage Land” brothers will fight brothers, friends will turn their backs on eachother, children will fight with the urge to destroy, and a girl must consider whether her friend has more in common with her or the local wildlife…

NAH, the most important thing is seeing a raptor get shot in the face with a psychic shotgun (and much as I prefer raptors to Kid Omega, I am also strongly in favor of the onomatopoeia ‘Psionic BLAM”).

5th Period: Art

Ramon Perez joins writer Jason Aaron this month, bringing with him an interestingly angular style. The quality of Perez’s art seems to depend largely on the subject, the look and strength of his drawing differ drastically depending on whether he’s rendering an explosive battle, or a rampaging dinosaur, or a debate between some exhausted mutants. The best work, in my opinion, is the first few pages in Canada and the aforementioned dinosaurs. On the other hand, I’m not so crazy about Wolverine’s chat with Beast and it’s expansive purple walls. I’d say that I was just projecting my distaste for the new Beast design, but Perez manages to get more out of it than most, and it’s really Wolverine who suffers here.

Additionally, there’s something off about Perez’s renditions of the female students. Sprite and Oya both look distinctly off in this comic, possibly because they’re the only characters with lips and Shark Girl changes in appearance from panel to panel.

Still, the Savage Land is not an easy subject to draw, and Perez makes it look like one. Not to mention that the darker scenes of the comic, set in caves, and old shacks, and Logan’s mind, are really quite beautiful. It’s felt like Wolverine and the X-Men never quite recovered from the loss of Chris Bacchalo and whatever your feelings on him, that’s a shame as it deserves the kind of quality artwork that its sister titles have been getting.

A last note about the art is that it Perez makes excellent use of two-page compositions. Especially with the bulk of dialogue that helps give the issue its tone, the comic simply wouldn’t work without it. However, the desire to show the entire battle or the full scope of a location leaves this issue feeling kind of thin.

6th Period: Free Block

In the back of the comics you’ll find some materials about our fair institution of learning. It’s been twenty four issues since the Jean Grey School opened its doors, the normal marker for two years of stories (though the bi-monthly schedule’s put it only a little over one ). In celebration we get a follow-up to one of the most beloved parts of the series’ first issue: the Easter Eggs.

With enrollment up again, after the dissolution of Utopia and the reignition of the mutant gene, we get a roster of the faculty and students. Like its predecessor, this one lets us know who resides at the Jean Grey School and how to identify them, sometimes in rather clever ways. There’s not much to say about it but it’s appreciated by both new readers and old supporters alike.

But even that can’t compare with what’s to follow: from the desk of headmaster Logan, a proposed class list for next semester! It’s not as lengthy as the one featured in the pamphlet at the end of issue one but it’s no less delightful, especially with the headmaster’s comments. I mean, who can forget he anxiety and excitement the day the next classlist goes up, and at the Jean Grey school those emotions run all the hotter. Afterall, where else can you hope to get into Blackbird Flight Simulator 308 while simultaneously worrying that it’ll fill up and you’ll have to fill out the release form to take Mind Fighting with Professor Grey. I won’t take any more of the excitement away from you, but let me just say that I imagine Music 303 will be a popular class.

Well, it’s nearly time for lunch. Remember, you’ll probably want to find a hadrosaur, carnivores never taste as good. Enjoy your time in the Savage Land, short as it may feel; that’s what Wolverine and the X-Men is here for.

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