The final Wolverine and the X-Men graphic novel, in this incarnation at least, is well designed as a fitting place to end. The introduction of new students to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning underlines how much the first generation introduced to this mutant Hogwarts have grown over the course of the series. This is contrasted in the opening chapter with Kid Gladiator, not seen since vol 4, back at home experiencing very different learning conditions. We have a final helping of Nick Bradshaw’s art, he being surely the most accomplished graduate of the school, and a valedictory chapter that will please most who’ve followed the series. It’s been up and down, but concludes with one of the better volumes.

With the exception of Avengers vs X-Men stamping all over the series, Jason Aaron has explained away the intrusion of other crossovers sympathetically, or entirely body swerved them, which is even better, but there are some consequences of Battle of the Atom to be mopped up here. It needs sweeping events covered in a few lines of dialogue, but better that than including a single chapter of a much larger event. Global defence organisation S.H.I.E.L.D. is none too happy with all branches of the X-Men, and that feeling is mutual. Aaron plays this plot very unpredictably, though, and leads to a reprisal and an underlining of a conversation from vol 3, while the students prove themselves more than capable.

Pepe Larraz illustrates most of the book in perfectly acceptable fashion. He’s got a nice curving line to his people, who slouch and swerve, but the angular facial features are sometimes odd. This particularly applies to the stylised look he applies to Wolverine out of costume.

Jason Aaron’s earned the over-sentimentality of the final chapter, which combines graduation day in the present with the school closing in the future, and several of the artists who’ve defined the series coming back for a page or two. Chris Bachalo closes the series as he opened it, with excellence. The provocative relationship between Wolverine and Quentin Quire has shifted slightly in the future, and it may have just all been a dream anyway.

In the manner of a typical 21st century series from Marvel, this isn’t the end, merely the final curtain for Aaron, and the arrival of new creators is the excuse to re-promote a new first volume of Wolverine and the X-Men. All eight volumes of Aaron’s work on the series can also be found in the hardcover Omnibus edition.