Nightcrawler #1 (Marvel)

Nightcrawler 1
CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3.5/5 – BAMF! Claremont is back!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Hank Johnson.

If you ask most comic fans why they like the X-Men, almost all who have been around for a while will point to Chris Claremont’s run on the comic during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Using compelling and intricate storylines, Claremont forged a universe that spans dozens of characters and spoke to the hearts of many young Marvel fans. Claremont’s work since those days has been somewhat spotty for me. While I enjoyed the series X-Men Forever, I was clearly in the minority.  Nightcrawler recently returned to comics, after his death during the Second Coming crossover. If you are interested in reading about how he came back, you can read that story in Amazing X-Men.

This issue quickly addresses that Nightcrawler is back, and shows his transition into the new status quo of the X-Universe. However, once the book shifts from the prelude to what will be the main story, I feel that the issue loses some accessibility to people who are not hard core X-Men fans. While I love Claremont’s choice of co-leading character, not many general comic fans will know the character, though most X-Men and Nightcrawler fans will easily know who it is.  Looking at this as a number 1 issue designed to attract new readers, it falls a little short of the mark. For example, the character mentioned earlier is only referred by their first name. So even if a new reader is intrigued and wants to look up information on the character, it would be a challenging task.

While the overall writing is fantastic, there are a few awkward panels. For example, in one panel, a character states “I need to check on my mother (name), to make sure she’s safe”. Why would anyone say something like that? It really read awkwardly and distracted me from the story.  Other than the accessibility no new readers and an awkward turn of phrase, this is Claremont writing at his best. He handled Nightcrawler’s reclamation to the current status quo beautifully.  Nightcrawler’s interaction with Wolverine, Storm, and Rachel Grey was pitch and tone perfect. I really enjoyed how Claremont was able to bring back some great memories from the Excalibur series, yet keep it vague enough so new readers can get a sense of the character. I wish he had maintained that throughout the whole issue.

Todd Nauck’s selection as artist for the series was an excellent choice. Nightcrawler’s ability to teleport poses some unique challenges for artists and Nauck answered them beautifully.  Nauck drew Nightcrawler in mid teleport several times. Each of these panels was some of the best work I have seen in an X-Men book. His style is loose and fun, but captures just the right amount of detail to make truly impressive images.

Overall, I believe your level enjoyment of the story will vary depending on your level of expectations and experience in the X-Universe. If you are someone not versed in X-Men lore, I think it would be somewhat inaccessible and frustrating due to its lack of backstory. If you are an X-Men fan, I think you will really enjoy this book.  That said, Nauck’s art alone makes this book fun just to look at.

Reviewed by: Hank Johnson
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