X-Men #7: Out of Desire for Heaven
The Ritual of the Crucible means rebirth for former Mutants — but what of the inevitable cost?
I’m going to open with the biggest problem that I have with this book: Nightcrawler abandoning his faith. Of course, any intelligent reader saw this coming. Hickman is an Evangelical Atheist. Jordan White has gone on record about the fact that he doesn’t give a crap about this aspect of the character. Nevertheless, Kurt Wagner’s unshakable Catholicism has been one of the few consistent things about the way that the character has been written since his inception and to see it thrown, so easily, out the window due to the new mutant status quo is a kick in the teeth to any religious reader out there — and not for the reasons one might expect. So I’m going to say this slowly, with great care: the idea that attainable, earthly eternal life precludes anything within Christianity is laughable from a theological perspective. The idea of heaven is secondary to the faith (I do not act out of fear of hell or desire for heaven, but out of service to God) and even if one needs to believe that one is groping their way towards a post-mortal paradise, one wouldn’t stop being a Christian once you got there. Eternal paradise on Earth would give you more opportunities to enact your faith — because the point isn’t converting people (something Nightcrawler has never attempted, even when he was a priest), it’s being good. It’s learning to be better and doing so in the service of God.
Going to heaven isn’t the freaking point and anyone with more than a dried out wet-nap’s knowledge of basic theology would know that. Certainly, Nightcrawler (the former priest) would be aware of this. Jean Grey said it best a few weeks ago in X-Force: being immortal has made life more precious to her; it’s made her want to do more for others. Because she can. Because the cost, to her, is less.
In that sense, this issue was an insult to the character — and to fans of the character.
Now, it is possible to look at this as an evolution of faith — I’m certain that this is what Hickman was groping for when he tied it, thematically, into the new ritual of The Crucible and drawing something new from the smelt ashes of the old — but if so he handled it catastrophically.
There were some good moments. Scott openly flirting with Logan (and Logan flirting back) was a delight to see. The sight of The Crucible itself (and the many disturbing ramifications thereof) will provide a great deal of fodder for fans to ruminate over for years to come. And, of course, there were many, many shards of doubt jammed in under the placid fingernails of paradise (especially when one considers how thoroughly death is being cheapened on Karoka, despite the ritual, despite the pomp) that the ever-widening cracks in the paradisaical facade are becoming impossible to ignore. And that is satisfying to watch.
As for the art: Yu is far from his best, here. There was little nuance to the art, almost no variety in expression. The coloring was, by far, the most enjoyable aspect of the story.
But personally, my final comment on the issue would be that I have been longing for Nightcrawler to have a role in any book since DoX began and, now that he has been handled so reprehensibly, I almost hope that he keeps well out of it until all of this is inevitably retconned again. And, for the first time since House of X #1, I’m hoping that the retcon happens soon.
Uneven storytelling, and an egotistical desire on the part of the writer to cause furor among fans, lead to this being a controversial entry in the realm of X-Lore.
X-Men #7: Out of Desire for Heaven
Writing - 4/104/10
Storyline - 3/103/10
Art - 6/106/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
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