By Leroy Douresseaux
July 30, 2008 - 10:37
Wolverine: First Class added yet another Wolverine title (and essentially another X-Men title) to the market when Marvel Comics published the first issue a few months ago. Like X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: First Class is set in the distant past of X-Men history and continuity, likely taking place after events first depicted over 27 years ago in Uncanny X-Men #143, which was published in late 1980 or early 1981.
Wolverine: First Class #1 (entitled “The Buddy System”) goes back in time to recount the first mission for the (then) newest student at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and the newest member of the X-Men, Kitty Pryde. “Gifted” means mutant – having naturally endowed superhuman abilities, and the X-Men are a band of mutant heroes. Kitty Pryde was a character first introduced in (Uncanny) X-Men #129.
Professor Charles Xavier AKA Professor X, head of the school, is sending Wolverine on a mission to an isolated West Virginia town where the Professor has located another young mutant. For reasons of his own that he’s keeping to himself, Prof. X wants Wolverine to take Kitty with him on the mission – a way for her to gain the benefit of Wolverine’s experience in the field, especially as this may be a dangerous mission. Wolverine is reluctant precisely because he doesn’t want a newbie holding him back, if things get crazy. Wolverine and his charge arrive to find a less than warm welcome – including an angry mob of townsfolk wielding knives, bats, pitchforks, etc.
“The Buddy System,” written by Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hercules) and drawn by Andrea Di Vito (Marvel Comics Presents), is not only a stand alone story (beginning to end in one issue, no need to buy another issue for the rest of the story), but it’s also an “all ages” or age-appropriate title that is similar to the kind of stories I read as a pre-teen. Because of that, Wolverine: First Class may not appeal to older readers the way regular X-Men titles do because First Class lacks the edginess, violence, and sexual innuendo and the darker, more serious subject matter of titles like Wolverine or Wolverine: Origins.
Wolverine: First Class #1 is, however, a fun read. I wouldn’t compare Van Lente’s writing to that of Chris Claremont, the man whose Uncanny X-Men stories from the 1970’s and 80’s are what will shape Wolverine: First Class, but “The Buddy System” is a nice superhero action/adventure tale. The art, by Andrea Di Vito and Laura Villari, seems to bet better as the story moves along – particularly in the second half of the story when the action kicks in.