With ‘Battle Of The Atom’ over and done with it, it’s time for the X-Men books to move forwards, and the way they’ve always done that is to launch a new #1. I’m loving the X-titles at the moment, but I’m already reading 4 ongoings, plus Cable And X-Force and Uncanny Avengers, which is basically an X-book, so, despite my positivity, I needed a good reason to pick this one up.
Luckily, there’s 2 good reasons, the first is that Jason Aaron is writing this, and he’s not only one of the best writers in comics today, but his other X-book has been fantastic from the very beginning. The other is that this first arc of this title is set to feature the resurrection of my all-time favourite X-Men character, Nightcrawler. I try and be an adult and follow creators instead of characters, but come on, it’s Nightcrawler, he’s the best, and hey, I’m following the creator too! Oh shit, there’s a third reason actually, and that’s Ed McGuinness on art, who is always awesome. So yes, whilst there are too many X-Men books, and really, this could have probably been an arc in Wolverine & The X-Men, I still very much enjoyed this opening issue and look forward to the rest of this story.
The issue begins in Heaven, with the white robed Nightcrawler we’ve seen before in the pages of Aaron’s X-Men sat on the edge of a cliff, staring out into nowhere. A fellow dead person tries to convince Nightcrawler to stop moping about being dead and enjoy Heaven like the rest of them, but before he’s able to, a bunch of demon pirates show up and attack. The fight between Nightcrawler and these pirates was a lot of fun, especially as it put a smile back on the character’s face, and an even bigger one on mine. I’ve missed the blue elf, and that panel of him grabbing those swords was probably my moment of the week. Kurt defeats the pirates, but then, the man behind them shows up, and yep, it’s his dad, Azazel, also dressed up as a pirate and with a bunch of evil red Bamfs alongside him. Nightcrawler and Azazel fight, but Azazel gets away, leaving Kurt alone in Heaven with a single red Bamf. I think what’s best about these scenes is that Jason Aaron is making a lot of the terrible retcons made about Nightcrawler work. The initial story by Chuck Austen that introduced Azazel, ‘The Draco’ is notorious for being one of the worst X-Men stories ever, and here, Aaron starts to make these concepts work, and it may be just as simple as making Azazel a pirate.
The story then switches to Earth, where Angelic Jones, AKA Firestar is about to start her first day teaching at the Jean Grey School, and she immediately walks into chaos. Everyone has their own shit going on, and it’s the usual chaos we see in the pages of W&XM. I think it’s a great idea to introduce Firestar into this book, as she is a mutant, but she’s never been an X-Man before, and it does provides something new. Firestar soon finds something to do however, as once again, the Bamfs have messed with the Beast’s lab (in particular his coffee machine) and she and Beast try and track them down. What they find is… a mysterious portal that the Bamfs seem to have either made or come out of. Beast assembles a team to look at it, including Warbird, Iceman, Angel, Storm, Wolverine, Northstar and Rachel Grey. This is a pretty random grouping of X-Men, but it works, and I especially liked the hints of romance between Iceman and Firestar. Obviously this is playing off of ‘Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends’ but do these two have an established relationship in the comics? I don’t know, but anyway, the love-triangle with those two an Warbird should be cool. The portal starts fritzing, some evil Red Bamfs come out, and uh-oh, Wolverine and Northstar get sucked through it and into Heaven, where they come across… Azazel and his demon pirate ship, and Wolverine gets an indication that his best friend may still be alive.
I really enjoyed this first issue, Aaron delivered the same level of quality as he does with his other X-Men book, provided a good entry-point character for new readers in Firestar, the art from McGuinness was his usual excellent quality, and really, as a Nightcrawler fan, him coming back just makes me happy, especially when the focus of the story is Piratical and right up his street.
Yes, this book isn’t really necessary, but it’s very good, and that’s all you can ask for. Two Jason Aaron X-Men books is better than one, and given that I’ve noticed a lot of people are annoyed at the focus of W&XM being the kids, this should be perfect for them.