Four months ago I remember talking with a local comic shop proprietor, discussing the first issue of the new Nightcrawler series being penned by Chris Claremont. Nightcrawler is the shop owner’s favorite X-Man and we are both fans of the great work Claremont did back in the day, but after the disaster that was X-Men Forever we were both rather skeptical of where this series was going. Four issues later, however, I am completely sold.
Although Claremont didn’t create Nightcrawler, he picked up writing duties on the character almost immediately, and it really shows in his understanding of the X-man. Claremont knows exactly what makes this character tick and he does a magnificent job of demonstrating that, without the heavy handed exposition that is so often found in 70’s and 80’s X-titles. The dialogue is plentiful, but not so much so that you feel like you’re reading a George R.R. Martin novel with pictures. This issue in particular makes wonderful use of Claremont’s extensive X-Men knowledge. It starts off with Kurt playing baseball with his bamfs. This harkens back to many issues that fell between major story arcs where the X-Men, more as a family than a team, would get together and play baseball, or spend the day lounging around the pool. Later in the issue Nightcrawler finds a gift from Storm: the X-Men’s old SR-71 jet. Little touches like this make this book a joy to read, but there are not so many that new readers will feel lost in references and inside jokes.
The interiors by Todd Nauck are great. Nauck has a fantastic sense of how Nightcrawler moves and makes impressive use of his bamf ability, especially during the baseball game. I also had great fun with the Danger Room sequence which flashed through a number of Nightcrawler’s old costumes as it rolled through various scenarios. I’m very pleased that Nauck has chosen to use the cute, chubby Bamfs instead of the more gremlin looking ones. They help keep the book lighthearted and fun, even when the story itself gets a little dark. My only real complaint about the book is that there are a significant number of two-page spreads, which at times can be a little annoying. Even with modern e-readers and digital comics, I still find it a bit difficult to ready too many of these pages in a row. However, this was not enough of an issue to truly diminish my enjoyment of the book
Now that we’re a few issues in, I’m starting to understand the nearly giddy excitement that Claremont had for this book when I spoke to him at Phoenix Comicon. 4.5/5 Death Stars.