Now this is really interesting to me, and maybe only to me, but here goes: when I first began contemplating the way to review this issue, I realized what I want to say is, "this is too far removed from reality." You'd be right to smack me across the forehead. I'm reviewing comic books and I'm expecting them to be close to reality?
It's undeniable that the X-Men have created a reality of their own; either within or beside the reality of the Marvel U, it's their little niche. Now, the opening conversation of this book, between Wolverine and Professor X, contains the following exchange:
- Wolverine: You sure you won't reconsider, professor? Your newfound sarcasm aside, we could really use your help around here. I could use your help. I'm not sure I know what I've gotten myself into.
- Xavier: I'm not sure you do either, dear boy.
Ignoring how bizzare it is to write Wolverine uttering the phrase, "Your newfound sarcasm aside..." since when is Xavier an English butler? I hear him speak in John Cleese's voice throughout this scene, and there is no reason why that should ever be the case.
In fact, I eventually realized that there's an element of Fawlty Towers to this whole issue, except that for the most part Logan and Kitty are in Basil's position. The state inspectors, who are clearly highfalutin archetypes, are rich guests, and the day is spent trying to cover up the eccentricities and failings of the establishment. Naturally, hilarity ensues! I say this as a fan of Fawlty Towers, by the way, but the problem is that I just flat out do not want an X-Men sitcom out of a flagship book like this. It's not what I thought I was signing up for.
Maybe that's unfair of me, because in a way it's sort of inherently comedic, the notion of a 200+-year-old samurai with built-in claws opening a school for people with super powers that also includes interdimensional gateways. Maybe I'm playing into some kind of dork stereotype by taking this stuff too seriously. But if I am, I don't think it's my fault; I think it's Marvel's for establishing the precedent that X-Men is serious business, that it's about civil rights and fundamental moral questions like what it is to be human and the meaning of personal freedom. And I'm not trying to suggest you can't include humor in that, either. It's just that this whole issue is a joke, and the punchline turns out to be the leader of the Hellfire Babies—kid villains introduced in Schism over whom I'm still scratching my head—sicking some kind of giant worm monster on the school while the highfalutin tea-and-crumpets inspectors crap their pants.
Some of the moments we've been given here are thoroughly and truly funny, like Beast's unfortunately timed mad scientist tirade and the psychic defense class for which Mr. Uptite the English Inspector Butler declares the students should all get "As in standing around." I would also like to say that, for the tone that's been adopted here, Chris Bachalo's exaggerated pencil work is very appropriate, and also that his rendition of Idie is frighteningly cute.
There's so much potential in the cast that's been assembled here, and in the fresh status quo of the X books. Schism was positively ham-fisted, but it got things where they need to be. I desperately want to read a book about this school that addresses the major problems it inevitably will face without treating the whole thing as a joke. I'm not looking forward, for example, to plots being sidetracked for more scenes where Kid Gladiator says things like, "Kiss my hand, puny earth creatures!" and I'm expected to giggle. And I'd love it if we could get rid of this whole development where evil genius toddlers are the villains. That's stupid, and I'm not going to insult anyone's intelligence by elaborating on its stupidity. It's clearly stupid.