While I’ve never been much of an X-Men fan in general, I’ve always had a fondness for Nightcrawler. Maybe it’s because I too grew up wishing I could be Errol Flynn or at least one of the dashing, swashbuckling heroes he made a career of playing. Teleporting also seemed like a fun power to have. And I later came to appreciate the ironic duality of the character; a man of faith with the soul of an angel and the body of a demon. It was for this reason that I decided to give Giant Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 a shot. While the recent revamp of the X-Men has been hit-and-miss for me personally, I can’t say no to a story centered around Nightcrawler.
Unfortunately for fans of the fuzzy elf, Giant Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 isn’t really centered around Kurt Wagner. Oh, he’s in the middle of things, to be sure, but this story isn’t really about him. Not like last year’s Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler. No, this issue is really an ensemble piece and action story about a group of X-Men being led by Nightcrawler. That being said, it’s a good ensemble piece and action story, as one would expect with Jonathan Hickman writing. And just because this book wasn’t what I was expecting doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It is.
The plot finds Nightcrawler leading Magik, Cypher, Eye-Boy and Lockheed into the ruins of Professor Xavier’s old mansion. It seems they determined that a something that wasn’t a Mutant was trying to use the portal there to travel to the new Mutant homeland of Krakoa, but that a Mutant was close by when the portals were activated. This leads to a typical “haunted mansion” scenario, as our heroes contend with ghostly figures surrounding them, but things quickly become atypical as Kurt must lead his people to victory and/or safety.
Hickman spins a good story and he does a fine job of revealing who our heroes are for everyone who doesn’t know them. (I’d never encountered Eye-Boy before, for instance.) The only flaw to his script is that Nightcrawler comes off as a little too generic a team leader and there’s little sense of the wise-cracking smart aleck I love and identify with. I’m willing to chalk it up to Kurt trying to set a good example for the New Mutants under his charge or being too honestly freaked out to think of a good quip.
While I might quibble with how Kurt is portrayed, I have no complaints about the artwork. Alan Davis is rightly renowned as one of the best X-Men artists ever and nobody draws Nightcrawler and Lockheed quite so well as he does. His inks add a perfectly ominous aura to the whole story and are well-backed by the colors and finishes added by Carlos Lopez.
Much like the earlier Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1, this book was not what I expected it to be. Thankfully, it proved to be a pleasant surprise with fantastic artwork by one of the greats and a solid story that proved surprisingly accessible despite a few surprises and some characters I wasn’t at all familiar with. It may not have as many swordfights as one might hope for in a Nightcrawler comic but its still quite good.
Giant Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 releases on March 25th, 2020!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.