We’re on the second to last issue of the ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ series which has been a bold departure of how Wolverine has long been portrayed in the Marvel Universe. He’s experimenting on being a better mutant and helping raise a new generation of mutants. In the last issue, the best part of the focus was Wolverine and Cyclops starting to come to terms with one another again and this time up we get a focus on Toad. That’s right, the finale will give us where the students go but this one we see the janitor in all of his slimy glory.
The series has been on an upswing from the start and now that it’s coming to a close we’re getting some of the better stories out of it. While I’ve loved Jason Aaron’s work to date, his best moments have been when he has had a single or just a couple of characters in the spotlight. In this issue, the faculty deals with Toad’s backstabbing when he helped lead some of the students to the Hellfire Academy. The worst part of this is when the staff is letting him go and he mutters that everything he did he “did for love” and if he had only been more open his sins would most likely have been forgiven.
In this issue, we see not only how emotionally torn up he is about being discharged as the school’s janitor, but how he’s still suffering over Husk’s loss of memory over the love that they briefly shared. This is the first time we’ve seen Toad belong to anything good, though just like his time in the ‘Brotherhood of Evil Mutants’ he has been pretty much mistreated and ignored. As he is leaving the campus, we first see Husk say she wants to meet with him for coffee because even if she couldn’t remember what had caused her to fall in love with him, something had and she’d like to get to know him again and see if lightning could strike twice. Is Toad getting a second chance?
Well right after that we see that the two students from the Hellfire Club that were going through forced rehabilitation had just escaped. At this point we see Toad leap into action behind the escapees and chase after them. Toad really is reaching for that second chance though not quite in the way you might hope. We see some great fight scenes between Husk and some robots as Toad, though all of that, falls to the background behind the story.
In what could have been a redeeming moment for Toad that would have given him an in back into the world of the X-Men, he instead pushes one of the two young escapees to take him in and they escape together. So Toad is having his second chance, as a villain. This is most likely a story line that will continue after the series restarts in the near future or at least be touched upon down the line and served as a great stand alone issue.
There was comedy sprinkled in throughout the issue and while some of it worked great, it almost didn’t seem to fit in with the direction they are clearly taking one of mutant kind’s least favorite members. A fun read, a good introduction to a future story arc, but I’m glad they didn’t end the series on this one.
‘WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN’ #41
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Pepe Larraz, Nick Bradshaw