Monday, 31 October 2016

Amazing X-Men Vol. 1: The Quest for Nightcrawler (Marvel NOW!) Review

Okay, fine- you've seen the coolest
image in the book already. HAPPY?!
Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Ed McGuinness

Collects: Amazing X-Men #1-6

Background Information:

There was a time when the X-Men fought baddies. Then a few different things happened. Magneto became a good guy, the X-Men split into the Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine's X-Men, and Cyclops found himself convinced that all humans were evil and that mutants had to be protected from them. Now the X-Men fight each other. For better or for worse, Marvel NOW! X-Men have been fighting each other. That's earned it some criticism

Oh, they've also brought the original X-Men into our time from the past.

That couldn't possibly go wrong, right?

You thought I was joking about the "literal hell" part, didn't you...
Review:

In many ways, Amazing X-Men feels like a return to form for those who have come to loathe the Amazing X-Men an exception rather than a rule.
current run of X-books; it features a classic team of mutants, has plenty of humour and, most importantly, is about X-Men fighting someone other than themselves. It's a pity then that Marvel have seemingly no interest in continuing this series into the current X-Men run, and that disinterest shows, making

The Quest For Nightcrawler finds the X-Men in literal hell- That's something only Jason Aaron could make light and fun. They've followed the Bamfs (not an acronym) through an unknown portal with new member Firestar and have been confronted with Azazel- the evil pirate demon-dad of Nightcrawler.

In case you're wondering, yes. This collection was written with no other purpose than to bring Nightcrawler back into the universe, and honestly, it's done fairly well. The fight between Nightcrawler's X-Men (yes; in this collection, that's what they are) and the demon pirates in as fun and bombastic as many remember comics always being. Nightcrawler's action scenes- particularly his fights with Azazel- are particularly epic; seeing him "bamf" around cutting down enemies is exciting and his dialogue feels fresh and witty.

The other characters, unfortunately, don't feel as fleshed out. Firestar (who I know I'm going to mess up and call Starfire at some point) seem's to be relegated to "straight man" to juxtapose Iceman's not-quite-as-funny-as-Aaron-wants them to be, and be shocked at the so-called craziness of everything. Northstar hates everyone and reminds us about why we haven't seen this character since his wedding a few years ago. Beast is FAR better handled in Bendis' X-books as Aaron dilutes his character to being a coffee addict. I could go on, but it bums me out that Marvel are giving us X-books that basically say "you can have well-developed characters or you can have storylines where things actually happen." No, Marvel; we want both!

Guys... don't mean to be a downer, but
Wolverine's in this book, too.
Thankfully, plenty does actually happen in The Quest for Nightcrawler, and for a moment, you're tempted to ignore the fact that none of the characters actually need to be there. This is a story that could just as easily be told with the Avengers or even the Fantastic Four! It's a book full of cool happenings, but nothing more substantial. Is it fun? Sure; and those lamenting the seriousness of contemporary comics will likely love it, but don't kid yourself: this is pretty shallow escapism.

The art here is vibrant and colourful and it makes you think of the 90s X-Men cartoons. I can't stress here just how much this book seems written for those who miss the old X-Men and every visual drives it home. It helps to drive home the fact that this is the "fun" book.

And ultimately, I'm glad it exists. I'm not always a fan of the "light and funny" mandate that seems to get god-status every time a piece of superhero media exists, but Amazing X-Men proves that there are still SO many ways to take the franchise. It's not the deepest mutant book- not by a long shot- but it's a fun, nostalgic read to be sure. It gets a three out of five Bamfs (again, not an acronym).

***

+ Nightcrawler is well done.
+ Vibrant and colourful art.
+ Fun tone with lots happening.
- Character progression nearly non-existant
- None of these characters feel important to the story.