In new X-Men relaunch, a new headmaster debuts

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In finding a new teacher to replace the X-Men’s venerated Professor X, writer Jason Aaron has found a not so suitable substitute that’s bound to have readers of Marvel Comics’ upcoming “Wolverine & the X-Men” series doing a double take.

Or even a triple take, given that the new headmaster has three razor-sharp claws that “snikkt!” from both his hands at the mere hint of danger.

Wolverine is heading up the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning that will not only educate young mutants, but hone their powers, too. He’s being helped by Kitty Pryde, Iceman and Beast, among others.

“We’re getting to see Wolverine in a position we’ve never seen him in before,” Aaron said, noting that Wolverine has always been one more prone to violence and fisticuffs first than asking questions.

“We’re certainly a little bit uncomfortable, but I think it still makes sense with the way things have been going in the X-universe.”

And what’s been going on has not been pretty after Wolverine saw his tenuous partnership and shaky friendship with longtime X-Men leader Cyclops shattered in the recent five-issue “X-Men: Schism” that Aaron wrote.

The two have had bad blood between them for decades. The fact that they both loved Jean Grey, the original Marvel Girl who went onto become the omnipotent Phoenix, only added to that simmering resentment and mistrust which boiled over this summer.

The rift created in that story was so profound that Marvel halted “The Uncanny X-Men” with issue 544, opting to replace it with “Wolverine & The X-Men” next month along with “Uncanny X-Men” in November.

Nick Lowe, who edited the previous series and Marvel’s current X-Men titles, said the logic of dividing the teams will become apparent as both series get under way.

“Wolverine certainly has unorthodox ideas,” said Lowe. “The name of the school, for one. He’s the one who named it and I can’t imagine Cyclops will be happy when he learns.”

And Wolverine? Well let’s just say that while Charles Xavier makes an appearance in the first issue, his calm demeanor is not the foundation for how Wolverine will operate.

“I hadn’t planned on Professor X showing up,” Aaron said. “But once I started working on the issue, I felt that he had to show up. I had to have a passing of the torch.”

That’s evident in the look of the first few pages, which pays homage to the first issue of “The X-Men” that came out in 1963, but Xavier’s school is history and Wolverine’s school is more advanced, populated by a cast of familiar and new mutants.

“It’s very much a book about this school and Wolverine trying to build something new from the ashes of the old school,” Aaron said, adding that Professor X won’t be a recurring guest star. “Wolverine is leading the show. Not Wolverine with Professor X looking over his shoulder.”

Lowe said the book will also give readers a new vantage point of the complex character that Wolverine has always been.

“But Wolverine has a lot of ideas of what worked and didn’t work at the old school and he put people in positions of responsibility to really challenge the old model and make something new,” he said.

“Another thing you learn about Wolverine is that he’s not a micro-manager,” he said.

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