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Wolverine & the X-Men #31 - The Hellfire Saga Part One Review

4

The Jean Grey has lost some students and it's time to check out the new Hellfire Academy. It's not what you think. Actually, it's probably exactly as crazy as you think it'd be.

The Good

A large focus on this series has been on the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and the mutant students there. Throughout, there's also been an ongoing struggle against the new (and young) Hellfire Club. Now is the time we see their latest move.

With a new Hellfire Academy, the idea is to groom young mutants into evil mutants. Because of who is behind the idea of the school, it won't necessarily be run in the way we've seen in the past. Based on how the Jean Grey School is run, you can imagine what Jason Aaron might come up with. It's pretty insane, to say the least.

Fans of Quentin Quire should be pleased with this issue. The title could be changed to KID OMEGA AND THE HELLFIRE ACADEMY and it would be perfectly fitting. Seeing how this school is run, what the classes are like, it's a nice change of pace from the series. We rarely get to see the other side of things when it comes to the villains. Aaron allows us to look into the dark mirror image of the Jean Grey School.

Nick Bradshaw's art and Laura Martin's colors really set the tone and feel for the book. Even with the 'students' wearing uniforms, they each stand out on their own. This definitely has a GLADSTONE'S SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS except rooted in the X-Men Universe.

The last page was pretty sweet.

The Bad

As fun as seeing each period is, it does go on a little too much. Seeing the different takes on the classrooms and the teaching 'methods' of the 'teachers' is great but it begins to border being absurd. Part of me would love to see an actual series or miniseries in this tone. But the other part feels it could get too over-the-top too quickly.

If the main goal is to entertain us and show us a different type of school, this issue succeeds magnificently. As for being the first part of a new arc (featuring the Hellfire Club again), it's not entirely clear what the overall direction of the story will be aside from Wolverine trying to rescue the former Jean Grey students that have ended up here. It makes sense to have this Hellfire Club as the main nemesis for a comic based on an X-Men school but each time we see them it feels like it's too much.

I got a little distracted trying to figure out what Mystique's motivation is here, teaching at the school, and how that fits into her current plans in the pages of ALL-NEW X-MEN.

The Verdict

If you've ever felt school was a pain, you've never experienced the new Hellfire Academy. We've seen a big focus on the craziness of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, run by Wolverine. In this issue, Jason Aaron shows us Wolverine's school is as safe a walk in the park compared to the Hellfire Academy. Nick Bradshaw's art and Laura Martin's colors are great to see, as usual, and helps to establish the look and feel of the school and the students. The Hellfire Club has been a problem for Wolverine since the beginning. With this arc focused on them, we're only going to be getting more of them. This was a fun look at a darker concept of a mutant school. Jason Aaron continues to make this X-Men title feel different from the others. You can never tell what's coming next and with the cliffhanger at the end, it appears it's only going to get crazier.