Wolverine and the X-Men #19, Written by Jason Aaron, Penciled by Nick Bradshaw. Available from Comixology or YOUR LOCAL COMICS SHOP!

After tearing “Avengers vs. X-Men” a new one in the last entry, I’m glad to be able to recommend something from the House of Ideas, and if there is anything this comic is full of, it is wonderful, crazy, hilarious ideas. The issue opens with an assault by a second rate super-villain made of ‘nazi bees’ and ends with a reveal so great that I’m not going to spoil it here, although I may have already spilled the beans on my twitter feed.

Wolverine and the X-Men is the story of the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters, and it is just fantastic. This issue is a wrap-up point after the big crossover, and the start of a new semester. This may or may not be the best place for new readers to jump on, but it gives a good cross section of the kinds of stories that this book has at its heart.

In a previous issue, one of the students was shot, and is at death’s door. While the rest of his classmates are on another world volunteering at a shelter for aliens displaced by the Phoenix, Wolverine is out looking for the assailants. Meanwhile, Beast has shrunk himself down “Fantastic Voyage” style and conducts hands-on brain surgery. He grows back to normal size and consults with a panel of Marvel’s smartest scientists: Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, and Spider-man, all of whom have Skyped in to lend assistance. The rest of the issue is some comic relief: Shadowcat is interviewing replacement teachers, and a host of unlikely but hilarious candidates, including Blade and Ghost Rider, have turned up to apply.

The issue is by turns goofy, chilling, and heart-wrenching. But most importantly, it is fun and authentic. With a huge cast and divergent storylines, Aaron does an amazing job keeping all the plates he has going spinning, and giving us a ride that is enjoyable and surprising. And in spite of all the big ideas, the super-hero schools and the size-changing brain surgery, it is the characters that shine through. These aren’t simply mannequins equipped with wish-fulfillment powers and one-liners. His students feel like teenagers. Moreover, he gets what it is to be a mutant teenager better than any x-writer I’ve seen in a long time: Not merely the terror of being different in a world where being different is BAD, but also the swagger of having power, but not the wisdom to restrain it. He frames the adults perfectly as well: They are there to protect these kids, not simply train them. I can’t recommend this comic highly enough. Go check it out.

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