‘Wolverine And The X-Men’ is a book that follows both Logan and the students in his class. In this ‘Infinity’ tie-in the focus is on one student. Most of the rest of his class were involved with the pretty underwhelming ‘Infinity: The Hunt’ event. Who else does that leave? Well a certain student who is no longer with Wolverine’s class but this was really a fitting way to bring him back.
Previously Kid Gladiator, the annoying Shi’ar warrior who was always above everyone else, was dragged back to the Shi’ar home world and forced to enroll in classes there. Needless to say things are a lot more boring in these areas and as the only Strontian left in the universe, he just doesn’t fit in with the future Warbirds and Smashers that are training with him. In fact, for as powerful as he is, they have him pretty much segregated in the school and even partially picked on by his fellow students.
In this issue, writer Jason Aaron is able to not only further explore Kid Gladiator as a character, but we get to see him really come into his own. While at the school he blatantly lies through his teeth about having punched the Hulk and saving The Avengers in multiple instances, but when the Builders come attacking he gets thrown right into the middle of the mix. Actually the rest of the students do and his dad orders a group of Warbirds to restrain him as he wants no harm to come to his son.
That, of course, doesn’t work too well as Kid Gladiator fights past them and joins the fray. He actually ends up working quite well in the figtht against the Builders and has a few comical moments thrown in such as eyeballing the Hulk who pretty much ignores him, trying to arm wrestle our favorite God of Thunder and getting nowhere, and finally a moment of approval from his father.
The fighting is solid and the character development shows in this issue. The heart to heart with his father at the end of the story appears to have affected the patriarch who allows Kid Gladiator to return to Earth to continue his studies, much to the annoyance of everyone who’s actually involved with Wolverine’s school.
I’m a little torn on his return. While it never felt as if his story was finished, he really was an annoying brat to have around. I can’t think of anyway that it’d be useful to have him in future story lines but if Aaron has proven anything in his run on the series so far is that he’s forward enough thinking to have a plan. Let’s just hope the plan comes to fruition by the time the book ends or that seeds for where it will go survives in a future X-Men title. As a stand alone book (which is what all the annuals are) this was a great way to bring a character back into the mix. As a ‘Wolverine And The X-Men’ title it would have been extremely weak standing on it’s own.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the action and how and why he comes back to Earth, there’s just no real focus on the rest of the class.
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN ANNUAL #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw