This oversized hardcover collection collects issues 1-35, 38-42 and Annual 1. Issues 36 and 37 can be found in the X-Men: Battle of the Atom collection and were omitted because the issues serve the Battle of the Atom crossover and would have been pointless here.
Another epic X-Men collection is here as writer Jason Aaron leaves his mark on the X-verse. Aaron's prior work at Marvel involved more solo act "heroes" in a more gritty style like the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine. His solo Wolverine run is very good but very heavy as well as it is a very character driven focused series that puts a man of Logan's talents and situations through the wringer. Aaron decided to take this anti-hero and go against the grain and go with a more humorous tone. The series is all the better for it. It has it's serious side, action and adventure, and heartfelt moments but it is a heck of a lot of fun. Aaron's run is probably the closest in tone to Grant Morrison's awesome New X-Men epic.
The whole setup for the series follows a huge fallout between Wolverine and Cyclops stemming from the X-Men: Schism event and Wolvie going back to the original location of Xavier's school in New York and setting up a new one. Wolverine has made huge changes in his views on life and one of those is to follow in Xavier's footsteps by fighting for a world for peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans while providing a safe haven for young mutants. He gets fellow X-Men: Beast, Iceman, Rachel Grey, and Kitty Pyrde to name a few, to leave Cyclops' camp of Utopia off of the coast of San Francisco to help Logan realize this dream.
Aaron, like Morrison's run, acknowledges that this place is a school and gives focus to a wide variety of students. The school itself is wacky and a lot of fun just like the series. The senior X-Men, who are also teachers here (Oh no!) and a very enjoyable group of students ranging from the punk Quentin Quire, to Glob Herman, the self loathing Idie, and alien intellect savant of the hive minded savage race Brood, Broo, have many adventures and hardships as they just try and make it through a school year. Some of these adventures include an alien scientist hatching a scheme, to field trips to the Savage Land, plus an overarching plot starting the from the first issue of a new Hellfire Club run by psychopathic human adolescents threaten the schools existence. There is also an infestation of blue furred teleporting elfs nicknamed Bamfs (hmmm what could that mean long time X-readers?) causing havoc like stealing Headmaster Logan's whiskey!!! The series also features a ton of other cameos that I will let you discover that range from just plain fun to heart felt.
This series does get highjacked for ten issues for the Avengers Vs. X-Men event. No reading of the main event is necessary or any other tie-ins for that matter to get what is going on. Aaron fills the reader in quite nicely while continuing his own story.
All the artists involved in this book are fantastic. Breakout artist Nick Bradshaw who has a very detailed cartoony style does the bulk of the series and you really miss him on issues he does not do. Chris Bachalo, Ramon, Perez, and Pepe Larraz do extended runs to great effect with a bunch of singular fill in artists. Have to mention the legendary Mike Allred's one issue as he comes on to help Aaron spotlight his co-creation of Doop and just why the heck he is even at the school. Very fun and groovy issue.
With how much I am praising this collection, why the four stars and not five? Well, even though the series is called "Wolverine" and the X-Men I felt he got too much attention and that the students could have been more developed and explored as well as members of the Hellfire Club. Also, I cannot call it a near perfect series to be up there with the likes of Morrison's and Whedon's runs but it comes close, there just is something missing but it is a great series. All the credit in the world to Jason Aaron and all the creative talent in the world for this fun take on the X-Men. P. S. Aaron and all the artists involved are killing on Thor: God of Thunder. A man of many talents!