After a bit of a bumpy start, the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is both up and running and in (relatively) one piece. Classes are in session, with the future of the mutant race studying everything from Mutant Literature to History of the Future 101. However, there's a flip side to what Wolverine is trying to do with the school — X-Force. As Wolverine puts it, "on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:00 I stand in front of a classroom full of children and lecture them on English Lit…By night I'm still Wolverine. I'm still the guy who goes out and stabs the people who need stabbing."
Aaron doesn't shy away from the dichotomy of Headmaster Logan and Wolverine, leader of X-Force. Even though Wolverine has broken away from Cyclops and Utopia, he still sees X-Force as something important, a line of defense to protect his students by any means necessary. Taking up the role of high school teacher hasn't taken away Wolverine's claws, and the acknowledgement of X-Force as well as the blending of both sides of Wolverine's life gives an added level of depth to this comic overall. He may not agree with how Cyclops wants to run things, but this is still Wolverine; he still believes that violence is unavoidable and necessary.
Plot threads from both X-Force and Aaron's other Wolverine comics both come to play in this issue, with characters like "Genesis" and Deathlok making appearances. Deathlok's ability to predict the probability of anyone's future gives us a glimpse of what could happen. It's an intriguing plot devise that gives the feeling of what's really at stake for Wolverine and his students, primarily the Apocalypse clone Genesis. Aaron's handling of the recent events in X-Force that led to an amnesiac Warren Worthington is also well done, and the addition of Angel — in his current incarnation — is an interesting one to the Wolverine and the X-Men cast.
There's a lot going on in this issue, but it's paced well, keeping it from feeling forced or weighed down. It lays a lot of groundwork for where Aaron seems to be going with this series, while at the same time throwing in twists (namely, the last page) that let the readers know we're going to be kept guessing. Wolverine and the X-Men was a series that started out strong, and by Issue 4, it's proven to also be a series that just keeps gaining momentum.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.