Graphic Novel Review: Amazing X-Men: The Quest for Nightcrawler
11:15 19 June 2014
The long-overdue return of a much-loved mutant favourite...
The latest X-Man to return from the dead has been in his grave since the start of 2008. which is quite a while by comics standards these days. He met his end at the conclusion of the Messiah Complex crossover really for no other reason than to give a weighty resolution to the event, and yet also because he hadn’t really had a raison d’etre in the team for years.
A swashbuckling adventurer who started out as the light relief against the maudlin which usually surrounded the X-Men, an optimist who fought against his monstrous appearance with an Errol Flynn flourish and a kiss for the ladies, Kurt Wagner was gradually caught up in religious angst and a horrible origin story based around his father actually being some sort of extradimensional demon, and so when he was finally killed off it was really no loss to the team or the character.
Fortunately the resurrection of Nightcrawler takes him back to his roots, and celebrates all that was originally great about the character, instead of the mess he became. It also goes some way towards rehabilitating his father Azazel as a worthwhile villain, transforming him into a pirate of the afterlife who goes on raiding missions for souls, a plot so utterly bonkers that you’re amazed it works.
Yet not only does it work, but it’s a perfect fit for Nightcrawler’s particular brand of heroism, and ultimately prompts him to make a desperate bargain in order to bring his dad to justice at last…
Writer Jason Aaron also gets the importance of Kurt to his teammates, especially the likes of Wolverine and Storm, who joined the X-Men at the same time, and their joy at seeing their deceased comrade once again is perfectly pitched. Unfortunately the use of other team members like Northstar and Firestar is less successful, with the former written completely out of character and the latter, who had successful tenures with both the New Warriors and the Avengers, presented as something of a costumed novice.
But those are minor criticisms in the face of what is actually a thoroughly entertaining romp, albeit one which throws up further questions about the nature of death in the Marvel Universe. Bearing in mind Kurt died in the arms of Wolverine, and was subsequently buried, his resurrection seems as simple as walking from one room to another, and skirts around the issue of what happened to his original mortal remains.
However, at the end of the day this is a story written with the sole intention of bringing back Nightcrawler, and in a “classic” style based on his earliest appearances rather than how he ended up, and it succeeds admirably in achieving this while at the same time making the character interesting again, and you can’t ask for more than that.