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Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the newly launched Amazing X-Men series by Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness.
“As a newcomer to the X-titles from Marvel, this new book looks like something I’d definitely enjoy, given how good the first issue was. And it features one of my favourite X-Men so that’s double the amount of fun really.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“Jason Aaron delivers a fun reintroduction of Nightcrawler. Whilst this may be yet another X-Book, it’s a damn good X-Book with lots of potential to come.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
Following the recently concluded Battle of the Atom crossover is a new X-men title by Jason Aaron, who is currently also working on Wolverine and the X-Men. WatXM was the only title from the crossover that had any kind of consistency to it in terms of story, and since I’m highly enjoying Jason’s Thor: God of Thunder at the moment, I had to get this book. The fantastic cover was the first thing to sell me on the title, and there was also the fact that Nightcrawler was going to be featured quite prominently here. As one of my favourite characters from the X-Men lore, whether we talk movies or animation or whatever, he is a character I’ve definitely enjoyed. I love the character’s background and his nature, which is seemingly at odds with itself.
In Amazing X-Men #1, Jason resurrects Nightcrawler aka Kurt Wagner and brings him back into the X-Men universe. Where Battle of the Atom didn’t really change the status quo of the X-Men at all, with the split between Wolverine’s team at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men team, it looks like the addition of Kurt is going to change things considerably, at least for the former.
We begin with Kurt being in paradise, and conversing with another soul there. Over the next few pages, Aaron paints the picture of a man who has achieved everything he ever wanted but who is still restless, who still desires something. His previous life. In paradise, there is nothing to keep him… excited any more and he misses his friends, and the life he had as an X-Men. His companion, an unnamed character, gets him to open up to her, but it all goes a bit south when a bunch of indecent looking individuals and BAMF devils suddenly invade the peaceful land. The BAMF devils are cousins of sorts to Nightcrawler it seems. I’m not well-versed in the X-Men lore at all and my only knowledge of Azazel and his get comes from the various X-Men movies, so it was nice to this completely… random element thrown into the mix.
We see Kurt go full-out on the villains as he rediscovers his forgotten gifts and pretty much wipes the floor with all them. The change in the character within those pages is astonishing and serves to underscore just how much he wants to go back to being an X-Man. The characterisation here is excellent and Jason doesn’t miss a beat here.
The story then shifts to the Jean Grey School where a mutant named Firestar arrives for the first time as a teacher and is overwhelmed by all the craziness going on. It all soon dovetails into a larger mystery involving, of course, both Nightcrawler and Azazel, and it was really fun to see. The golden part in the second half was the interactions between the characters. Lots of snide comments and hints that these people may all be mutants and stuff, but they are also human in their own way and thus they have quarrels and problems and issues like the rest of them.
The book is clearly set after Battle of the Atom since there is one prominent individual missing here, and this is touched on by the characters themselves, but all the same, it helps that the issue reads as if you don’t need to have any knowledge of what just happened last month with the big anniversary event. Jason definitely gets all these characters and while he slightly overdoes the dialogue, the full story was a blast to read start to finish. Great pacing, great premise and great mystery with Kurt’s return.
The issue is drawn by Ed McGuinness who does a pretty damn good job here. His Nightcrawler and Azazel are both excellent, and I couldn’t stop laughing at the BAMF devil, who were cute and cuddly but also vicious in the extreme. He keeps Jason’s script flowing pretty smoothly and he never misses a beat of the action. His choreography with those panels is pretty good, and its fun to see Kurt teleport all over the place as he fights the villains and even goes up against his father. Similarly, inker Dexter Vines and colourist Marte Gracia do a good job with their own work, and they help make Amazing X-Men #1 a great looking book. One of the best I’ve read this week, that’s for sure.
This is a highly-recommended buy!
Bane of Kings:
Art: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines | Colours: Marte Garcia | Letters: VC’s Joe Carmagna
An AMAZING new era for the X-Men starts here! Ever since his Nightcrawler’s death in X-MEN MESSIAH COMPLEX, the X-Men have been without their heart and soul. After learning that their friend may not be gone after all, it’s up to WOLVERINE, STORM, BEAST, ICEMAN, NORTHSTAR and FIRESTAR to find and bring back the fan favourite fuzzy blue elf! Super star artist ED MCGUINNESS (HULK) joins master X-Writer JASON AARON (WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, X-MEN: SCHISM) to bring you the most exciting comic on the stands!
There are a lot of X-Books out there on the market right now and it’s getting to the point where if it had been any other creators on this book, I would have questioned the need for a new ongoing at all. The return of Nightcrawler could have easily been worked into the Wolverine and the X-Men story-arc, or even that of any other X-Book. I mean, we have X-Men, All New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, the aforementioned Wolverine and the X-Men and that’s just the books involved in the Battle of the Atom crossover – we still have books like Cable and the X-Force, Uncanny X-Force and even the upcoming All New X-Factor. However, the X-Men are my favourite ‘group’ of characters alongside the Bat-Family and as their titles sell, there’s always going to be more of these books. And Amazing X-Men certainly is a worthy new addition to the X-Line, written by the ever-awesome Jason Aaron – featuring a very interesting teamup of Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman, Northstar and Firestar along with of course Nightcrawler himself. Whilst I’ve obviously encountered Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman and Nightcrawler before – Northstar and Firestar are new additions and it’s nice to see Firestar be introduced to the reader beforehand allowing for an interesting dynamic on the book, mixing the more established characters with those perhaps with as not as much exposure.
This book, like most first issues, is focusing around the setting up the ongoing series. The main issue is actually focused, or at least a large portion of it on Firestar – as she joins the Jean Grey School for the first time. We get exposed in several panels just how downright odd a School of Mutants would look to somebody who hasn’t grown up there – and there are several amusing scenes early on before Firestar joins the main cast. Also, it’s great to see a fun X-book once again. Over the years we’ve seen angst-ridden characters, those dealing with epic adventures and the X-Men divided against their own. However – The Amazing X-Men really brings something fresh and new to the table with one of the most fun reads that I’ve read in a while. It’s a really strong opening issue that has the potential to grab and enthral new readers right from the get go.
As far as first issues go, The Amazing X-Men #1 is a fairly solid one. Ed McGuinness brings some stellar artwork to the table and the storyline is compelling and engaging – and with the promise of a fun X-Book once again things can really look set to get interesting in the forthcoming issues. Whilst there isn’t too many effects felt from the aftermath of Battle of the Atom (something that you’d expect a title launching directly after this event to have to deal with), and it isn’t all too clear as to where this series takes place in continuity, I couldn’t really care. The best word that describes this book is fun, and if Aaron can continue the form that he’s brought to the table in Thor: God of Thunder and Wolverine and the X-Men, then we can find ourselves in for a very interesting ride indeed. Certainly worth checking out, and I can’t wait for next month – especially after that awesome cliffhanger.
In fact, if The Amazing X-Men keeps up its form over the next few issues – it may even end up competing with Brian Wood’s X-Men for my favourite X-Book on shelves right now.