Wolverine is dead and he has left a plethora of specific instructions to a multitude of Marvel’s finest (and not so finest) individuals. One of them just happens to be Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Spidey and Logan go way back and have had many great team-ups together as well as some really positive experiences as friends during their shared time on The Avengers. It comes as no surprise that he would ask Spidey to covertly reveal a mole within the Jean Grey Academy student body. Logan may have simply meant for Peter to use his spider-sense, but Logan’s last wishes have (thus far) been filled with character-realizing rewards at their task’s end. Peter’s is no exception and he takes the request with dutiful sincerity.
It may be no surprise to readers that as Peter goes forward through this issue he begins to wonder if he can actually be a positive role model to these wayward youths. Peter, ever the hopeful (or is it gullible?) and responsible man that he is, makes genuine attempts to try and teach these kids. From the way Elliot Kalan has these characters interacting, you would think this was the first time anyone ever gathered students into a classroom. Fortunately, there is a whole series before this poignantly called Wolverine & the X-Men where Logan and several other X-Men strive to teach these kids some semblance of value and responsibility, as well as mutant pride. In Spider-Man and the X-Men, these seven come off as juvenile and unappreciative jerks to Peter. But that’s to be expected, Spider-Man is an outsider. Right?
Well, not really. They’ve had several falling outs, but over all Peter has stayed on very good terms with most of the mutant heroes. Still, within the early pages that are beautifully rendered by artist Marco Failla and colorist Ian Herring, we see the elite class X-Men such as Storm, Ice-Man, Rachel Grey, and even Beast take issue with Spider-Man’s presence. Maybe it’s still bad blood from the whole Avengers VS X-Men storyline, but upon last reading, these X-Men had no reason to distrust Peter. The X-Men do not just treat him like an outsider, they make him out to be a pariah and a meddler of mutant affairs. Maybe Logan’s purpose for bringing Peter in surpasses just sniffing out a mole. Logan may have known his own teammates needed to learn trust and responsibility as well. Or maybe Kalan is just setting up how out-of-the-circle-of-trust Spider-Man really is here by agitating the stress between mutants and non-mutants.
Kalan brings about the return of Sauron, whom many were graciously pleased with not seeing ever again, as well as Stegron, the D of all D-Listers. Maybe it’s the ole’ Parker luck, but somehow these two are finally pairing up for the first time and have Spidey between a rock and a hard place. Peter struggles to find responsibility in protecting the apathetic students he is charged with watching and the civilians whose lives are at risk due to the reckless use of his students’ abilities. The dialogue is highly entertaining as students take shots at the sub, a normal teenage reaction, and the substitute teacher tries to fire back with authority only to watch it blow up in his face. It’s not exactly a new plot in the academic X-Man story, but it hardly ever gets old—certainly not when Spider-Man is involved.
The best of both worlds are here in this premiere issue, yet the title breathes like a Spider–book rather than an X–book. Kalan’s Spider-Man is as free-wheeling and impromptu as ever, complete with hackneyed remarks and one-liners. There are golden Peter Parker comedy moments, some of the best since before Superior Spider-Man (see page eight); a testament to why Kalan landed the project. His time as head writer with the comedy news show “The Daily Show” fits snugly with a clear appreciation and childhood love for the Web-Slinger himself.
For those readers highly invested in the X-books but looking to avoid AXIS, you can read this title without being distracted by “inverted” X-Men. That said, a handful of X-Men (and a title including the words “and the X-Men” ) can’t change the very Spidery-tone. Ian Herring’s colors lend a bright and cheery atmosphere to a book that is pure silliness and fun while Marco Failla’s grasp on realistic (and still trademark) Spidey-poses creates a very Spider-Man title, visually speaking. Also, Clayton Cowles rocks the lettering in this issue (love a good “BAMF!”).
Some smart editing decisions went into putting the creative team together for this book and there are many high hopes to be had. This series is going places but only if it can keep up camp while still kneading in some heart and character development, the way Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine & the X-Men did. If these attributes stick around, then this will be a very promising and worth while series to check out.