Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Todd Nauck
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Cory Petit
Review by Joey Braccino
In the midst of all this ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! hullabaloo about new directions and new writers and new number ones and new new new, Marvel not-so-quietly announced a series whose primary selling point was its titular “classic” mutant hero written by a quintessential X-scribe. Yes, Nightcrawler #1 dropped this week, and with the new series we also have the return of Chris “X-God” Claremont in the writer’s line.
After the resurrection storyline in Jason Aaron’s Amazing X-Men, Nightcrawler is back and embarking on a new adventure of self-discovery and swashbuckling. In fact, not much else happens in Nightcrawler #1 than establishing Nightcrawler’s reticence in the new status quo of the X-Universe: the Jean Grey School, the schism between Cyclops and Wolverine, the plethora of new mutants, the adorable little Bamfs running around. It’s all new to Kurt Wagner, and he’s juggling the fish-out-of-water experience with the dauntless persona that he’s supposed to embody for his friends. It’s an interesting place for the character to begin because his conflicts more often revolve around his faith and/or his appearance; Claremont wisely moves beyond those tried-and-true elements and pushes in this new direction. The issue ends with the return of one of Kurt’s past loves (family members?) and they embark on some ambiguous adventure together. I couldn’t really decipher the specifics, but it seems fun!
And if anything, Nightcrawler #1 is fun. There’s an old school flare to the issue, primarily brought on by Chris Claremont’s doggedly vintage voice. Gone are the “@$#@#!” and grit-for-grit’s-sake of contemporary comics; instead, we have characters using the word “poop” as an exclamation (no joke) and classic bamfing fisticuffs. Interestingly, Claremont eschews his textbook third-person epic narration in favor of a first-person perspective from Kurt’s perspective. It’s a great choice for Claremont, and it proves to be just enough to make it feel like a fresh start for the character and the writer.
Todd Nauck and Rachelle Rosenberg channel the current, dynamic Marvel-house style. The action is clear and the colors vibrant and engaging. Nauck puts Nightcrawler in his original outfit—shoulder pads and all—which furthers that classic feel of the issue. And man, are the Bamfs adorable as all heck.
Worth a look, particularly for Old School X-Fans. Contemporary readers (re: anyone who has grown up reading Bendis and Johns) might be turned off by the “vintage” style of the narrative, but fans of that Bronze Age bombast-meets-soap-opera voice will appreciate hearing Chris Claremont again. Do I think Nightcrawler is going to break new ground and revitalize the character like Waid’s Daredevil, Johns’ Aquaman, or Fraction’s Hawkeye? No, but there is something to say about taking a nostalgia trip with the Fuzzy Elf, at least for a few issues!!!