Iceman takes center stage this issue, pushing himself in a mind-boggling new way!  He’s not the only one that gets the spotlight, though as Wolverine and the other faculty of the Jean Grey School contend with the onslaught of the new pubescent Hellfire Club, led by 12-year-old Kade Kilgore. We actually get to learn more about this group of villains as well.

The “brains” of the outfit appears to be Baron Frankenstein, although he prefers just “Baron.”  The new White Queen sadistically wants to get things over with so she can bash penguins with a hammer.  We learn that all of the kids are complete sociopaths who have been inflicting harm and destroying things since they could walk!

X-Men history is cleverly referenced a few times in this issue.  First, the two inspectors from the New York Board of education morph into new versions of two of the X-Men’s oldest foes.  Then, it is revealed that the new school was built atop a Krakoa, the living island that was the first foe that Wolverine ever fought as an X-Man.

The school is besieged by a pack of Frankenstein’s monsters carrying flame-throwers.  The X-Men struggle to protect the younger mutants.  Kid Gladiator actually charges into combat alongside his keeper, Warbird.  Salvation comes in the form of Iceman, cutting loose like never seen before!  But when Krakoa emerges, there’s only one mutant who can save the day.  And he doesn’t want to.

This is by far, the more entertaining of this week’s X-Men titles!  It manages to be both hilarious and thrilling at the same time!  The characterization is excellent!  Iceman’s been around for decades, so to actually get some growth and development out of him after all these years is an amazing feat!  We also get some further interaction from Idie and The Brood.  The Hellfire Club kids say some pretty horrible things, but they still manage to be a riot, as does Quentin Quire, the X-Men’s resident sociopath.  I’m a bit out-of-the-loop on Rachel Grey, so I liked getting to see more of her in action.  Kitty gets a few choice moments, too.  I also liked the odes to the X-Men’s past, but in new re-invented ways.  This storyline is really entertaining and gripping!  The one over in ‘Astonishing X-Men?’  Not so much.

Chris Bachalo has a great, unique style that greatly coveys the urgency in the action sequences!  This issue was one big thrill ride and the art played a huge part in that!  The heroes here seem to be going all out!  Everything just flows wonderfully!

Definitely the X-Book to beat!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Jason Aaron
Pencils by Chris Bachalo
Cover by Bachalo and Tim Townsend