by Chris Claremont, Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg
No one stays dead forever. That’s typically the case these days in comics. Some characters do manage to be out of the picture for longer than others, but it is incredibly rare for a character to get knocked off and stay that way. Over the last few months, readers have gotten to see the return of Nightcrawler through the pages of Amazing X-Men. Now, as part of the new wave of Marvel books, the blue elf gets his own title as a true welcome back to the fold. Written by X-Men legend Chris Claremont, Nightcrawler #1 is a long awaited production for a lot of Marvel fans. This is not the same world Nightcrawler left years ago, and we see some of those changes through his eyes, though briefly, in issue one.
Nightcrawler, aka Kurt Wagner, has returned to the living and taken up residence at the Jean Grey school. As the story opens, readers are reminded of Claremont’s tendency towards exposition as much of the opening pages are littered with story-setting explanation. It does well to catch up anyone who might want to give this title a go without being totally current with the X-Men. There are definitely moments that step beyond help and cross into overwritten territory. Claremont’s writing is certainly skilled though not for everyone and definitively unique as compared to the current style of writing in comics. While never feeling out of place or dated, there are times when Claremont could benefit from saying a bit less in this first issue. As Kurt settles into his new role as a possible faculty member, he reflects on what the school once was.
The latter portion of the book finds Kurt in action after he tracks down Amanda. She and Kurt are interrupted by a large brute villain, Trimega, that Kurt must battle. Over the course of several pages, readers are left to witness their blue friend flexing his old fighting skills as he pops about the panels trying to take down this hulking being that appears to be part man, part machine, and a whole lot of nineties comics. It’s a decently handled fight, but amounts to very little other than the enjoyment of seeing Kurt in action. As the dust settles, Kurt and Amanda set their sites on protecting family.
Overall, issue one of Nightcrawler is okay. It is a lot of fun to get to see Kurt back in comics and follow along with his adventures. However, little ground is covered here. Using Kurt’s perspective to reflect on how much of the mutant-landscape has changed over the past four years could make for some great writing. Instead, this is glossed over in a rush to see him battling it out. When combining his tiff with Wolverine in the beginning and the battle at the end, over half of the book is filled with fight scenes that offer little consequence. Todd Nauck, a graduate of Image Comics’ Extreme Studio does a decent job here. Some of the scenes of Kurt mid-battle are really well rendered and exude that sense of swashbuckling adventure that puts a grin on the reader’s face. The book is uneven though, and there are several moments where characters, including Wolverine in his new armor suit, just look off.
Nightcrawler may be a fan favorite, and Claremont may be the best writer in X-Men history, but this first issue is mediocre at best. Hopefully the story takes shape in the coming issues and fans have more to look forward to. For now, Nightcrawler makes for some brief moments of fun without much of a lasting impression.