One of my main complaints about Jason Aaron's work on "Wolverine and the X-Men" was that it was oddly emotionally stunted. The kids were frequently put in situations that proved to be a challenge even to their adult counterparts, but Aaron always played those moments for laughs. Except for the excellent arc that took place in the Savage Land, he rarely explored the emotional impact of those situations on the kids.
As such, it didn't take me a while to realize that this series is under new management. Latour goes 180 degrees here, focusing almost exclusively on emotions. Nothing really happens in this issue -- Quentin becomes a teaching assistant to expectedly disastrous results and Logan travels into space to try to recruit Fantomex as an instructor. But, Latour uses those moments to tease out some of the emotions that we didn't see in the previous series. Quentin is plagued by the revelation that he'll one day become Phoenix, feeling as if his life is now pre-determined. He rebels against the efforts by the Grey School staff to push him into adulthood, probably because he has a pretty clear vision now of what that entails. Moreover, Logan gives the clearest description of his motivation to start the school to date, telling Fantomex that it serves as his, and, hopefully, Fantomex's, redemption for their sins.
Moreover, Latour actually focuses on how these emotions are in play in the dynamic between students. When Glob Herman decided to leave the School during the Savage Land arc, we didn't really have a sense of why he wasn't happy or why he didn't like his fellow classmates. But, by the end of this arc, Latour has already set up a rivalry between Hellion and Quentin that could get very interesting, given that the two of them walk on the darker side of the morality spectrum on a good day. It made me realize just how much this sort of story was missing from the previous series.
It was a refreshing change, though, admittedly, one that I found jarring. I'm intrigued to see where Latour is going to take us. I wasn't a fan of his work on "Winter Soldier," but this book is much different from that one. At any rate, it's a promising start.
**** (four of five stars)