The Hellfire Saga, Part One
Wolverine and the X-Men, no. 31
Nick Bradshaw and Jason Aaron
Marvel Entertainment, June 2013
Unpopular opinion: The Hellfire Club, in all of its iterations, is the best X-Men antagonist. The current Hellfire Club is a fun group of characters because they are jokey, little mean-kid versions of the group that used to be ruthless old men and women. Writer Jason Aaron has established the New Hellfire Club as a series-length antagonizing force against Wolverine’s Jean Grey School. So now Kade Kilgore has his own school. For villains. Where everything is BAD. I found it all very funny.
This issue was filled with physical comedy, sight gags and running jokes. Every inch of the Hellfire Academy is a pot of comics gold. Nick Bradshaw runs wild with these pages. Bradshaw’s style accomplishes many goals simultaneously: the characters are open and appealing; the body language and “acting” is clear; the action is staged in such a way that the comic is both information-rich and graphically easy to read. There are a lot if characters in this story, more than can fit in the magazine’s masthead. Even so, the comic does not feel crowded to me.
The pictures tell the story well–but is the story itself worthwhile? Yeah, kinda!
I like the series concept: taking the X-Men to be an actual school. And I like this storyline’s conceit that the X-Men’s rival would simply set up his own school for evil. It’s an idea that might sound foolish on paper but when you are willing to walk as far as “X-Men,” you might as well walk the rest of the way, into the high-concept deep end. The comic doesn’t take itself seriously, but doesn’t insult itself either. As a writer, Jason Aaron seems to just be having a good old time with bouncing ideas around and I’m pleased to be along for the ride.
Also, nice call, only giving “Wolverine and the X-Men” two pages in this issue. It’s apparent that the real hero of this story is Kid Omega, Quentin Quire. Who needs those grumpy spoilsports?
My only major apprehension is that as a series, Wolverine and the X-Men has rotated artists several times. I am very find of the tone and skill that Nick Bradshaw has infused this issue with and I’d like for him to stay.
One last comment, I very much liked the Hellfire Academy student uniforms. Nice touch, Bradshaw.