Giant Sized X-Men: Nightcrawler #1
Something appears to be haunting the long-abandoned X-Mansion. And whatever walks at Xavier's doesn't walk alone…
Ok, I’m going to dig right into my biggest criticism about this.book right off the bat, before I go into the (many, many) things that the issue gets right: it’s absolutely clear that the only reason that Nightcrawler is in this book is that Alan Davis asked for him. Magik, Doug, and even Eye Boy get 90% more dialogue than Kurt does, and their voices feel right whereas Nightcrawler’s (while being considerably more himself than he has been in X-Men) remains dramatically off. Nightcrawler does nothing to further the plot, he contributes nothing at all to the story, save for an excuse to make Magik seem even cooler than she is, and so, if you’re a Fuzzy Elf fan this book would be something of a disappointment were it not for Davis’s absolutely magnificent art.
Seriously, the man is a maestro when it comes to depicting character and action. When he Penn’s a fight scene it pops off of the page with a sculptural vigor unequaled anywhere else. The dialogue bubbles could be filled with nonsense (and arguably, they might as well have been) and the story would still be crystal clear and glorious.
However, there’s a definite disconnect between the story as written and the art. It really appears that Davis thought that Nightcrawler was meant to be the main character while Hickman was convinced it should be Magik. This is painfully obvious when you compare panel time to dialogue. Kurt’s drawn everywhere, but Magik is allowed to actually speak. Magik and Doug propel the action. Kurt stands by silently, or Bamfs.
Now, for the unmitigated good. The story is spooky and fun (who doesn’t love a good haunted house/aliens flick?) and the atmosphere of the ruined mansion was perfectly rendered. The ghostly apparitions were very 1980’s Excalibur in their mix of camp fun and legitimate creepiness. There’s a scene wherein Doug berates himself for acting exactly like the first victim in a horror film that’s absolutely wonderful. And it was nice to see Kurt acting (in one of his five lines of dialogue) like the veteran fighter leading younger soldiers. It was also good to see Eye Boy filling a more useful team role than implied pelvic floor expert.
All in all, this story had excellent energy and (again, I cannot emphasize this enough) truly first rate art. But Kurt definitely deserves better than playing third chair violin I his own book.
And it is interesting, isn’t it, that some characters act more like themselves when they are off the island? No talk of forming creepy death cults, here. No validation of ritualized murder. What we have, instead, is an interesting story, a fun mystery, some cool Karoka tidbits, and a truckload of some of the best art available in modern comics.
I didn’t enjoy this issue nearly as much as I’d hoped I would, but it was genuinely fun. Grab it, if you can. Don’t break quarantine (we wouldn’t want to suddenly find ourselves in a badly plotted zombie film, would we?) but schedule a curbside pickup or have it delivered. You absolutely won’t regret it
Want a taste of the original Excalibur with a side order of jump-scares and a truckload of absolutely amazing art? Yes? Then grab this issue.
Giant Sized X-Men: Nightcrawler #1: Haunted Mansions A-Go-Go
Writing - 6/106/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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