Welcome to the X-Men, Spidey. Hope you survive the……well, you get the idea.
It’s that time once again where the House of Ideas launches another #1 issue and presents us with a new dynamic for an already established hero, or as we like to call it, Wednesday. Is it just me or does Marvel have a new series starting every week these days? Anyways, this week is no different as a new chapter begins for Marvel’s number one hero. No, not Wolverine. He’s dead. Marvel’s other number one hero. That’s right, Peter Parker himself. Spider-Man is joining the X-Men. Sorry, that’s not true. He’s not really joining the X-Men. He’s spying on them. Why? Because Wolverine told him too. And yes, before you ask, Wolverine’s still dead….I think. Putting the X-Men’s convoluted continuity aside, this is a new tale of everybody’s favourite wall crawler living among the children of the atom. Will Mr. Parker survive the experience? He might but I don’t know how long we’ll stick around to find out.
Spider-Man and the X-Men #1
Written by Elliot Kallan
Art by Marco Failla
Our story begins with a promise. One made by Spidey to a now dead Wolverine that he would come to the Jean Grey School and teach the “special” class as their new guidance counselor. Storm is skeptical of his inclusion on the faculty, as are the rest of the teachers. Even when he shows up and stops Unus the Untouchable from destroying the school, Beast, Iceman and Rachel Grey give him the cold shoulder. They think he’s hiding something from them. And in fact he is! He’s been sent by Wolvie to find a traitor in their ranks. A traitor who happens to be in the special class. He needs to get to know these students and find out which one is secretly working with a super villain. It’s a tough job as it’s only the first day and the class already hates him. After a session in the danger room (where Spidey almost gets killed) and a trip to the Natural History Museum (where Spidey almost gets killed) the class ends up captive at the hands of Stegron and Sauron in The New Savage Land! As first days go, this one couldn’t get any worse.
When it comes to story structure and progression, writer Elliot Kallan does a very good job. I say very good and not great because it’s not like we haven’t seen this before. The premise of the tale has many familiar components. The group of kids that are identified as “most likely to become super villains” is a tried and true story trope used most often by Marvel when dealing with gifted youngsters. Grant Morrision’s X-Men run featured a group of kids that were manipulated by Magneto/Xorn. Avengers Academy was a group formed on this very principal. And yes, the students presented here (Glob Herman, Hellion, Shark Girl, Eye Boy, Ernst, No Girl and Rockslide) were identified as “difficult” back during Jason Aaron’s run on the book. The idea of a traitor among them is nothing new and Spidey as detective has also been done in almost every team book he’s been thrown into. While the set ups hit their marks, these are marks that feel all too familiar and highly predictable.
Where Kallan excels is bringing forth Spider-Man’s manic personality. The constant monologue to oneself is present and the one liners are flowing smoothly throughout. It’s obvious that Spidey’s humour is on overload here because he’s nervous with both his mission and the actions of the band of junior psychos now in his care. There’s also some clever jokes peppered throughout the book, like the School Release Form featured on the first page and the classic bit involving Spidey’s suit jacket and a wily Bamf who won’t let it sit on the coat hanger. These bits would be enough to carry the load of the story if not for two key factors. One – there’s an apparent lack of continuity here as Spider-Man acts on many occasions throughout the issue as if he’s never taught a class before. Peter Parker was a high school teacher at one point. Even if we ignore that fact, there was that time he taught at Avengers Academy. I know it’s a nitpick but it’s a noticeable one for any Spider-fan out there. The second problem is that while Kallan may have Spider-Man’s voice down, that’s not the case with the X-Students.
Each of the kids in the special class has a unique style about them that makes them ripe for humour while still having the quality for pathos. In this book, they’re just one dimensional jokes used to move along the plot and keep Spidey guessing. None of them are interesting to read. This is most unfortunate because from issue one of the Jason Aaron run (and even in the Jason Latour run) they were compelling characters with layered personalities. At one point, they were the stars of my favourite X-Book. Now, they just feel like a stale joke. Just a group of stereotypical smart-asses.
The art provided by Marco Failla is well done but nothing stands out in this book. While the storytelling is there in the panels, it too feels like something we’ve seen before. I wasn’t hating what I saw but wasn’t blow away by it either. The skill is there but can only do so much when delivering a hum drum story such as this.
If this is the first time you’ve ever read these characters, you might like it. But if you’re a fan of the Jason Aaron run of Wolverine and the X-Men, you will most likely be bored with what’s offered here. This title has the potential to improve as the concept is sound but it might not make it that far if it continues to deliver uch predictable plot lines. Spider-Man and the X-Men #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!