Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness continue to deliver a very enjoyable classic superhero story about the return of Nightcrawler here, but the interesting thing about this issue is that it’s actually not focussed on the Kurt Wagner, but rather on the other furry blue X-Man, Beast. Jason Aaron has always written a funny, likeable version of Beast in the pages of Wolverine & The X-Men, but here gets to show the character in much more of an action setting, as Beast goes up against Azazel and his whole crew, and comes out the other side… not good.
The issue begins with Azazel giving a speech to his crew, that if they stick with him, they’ll rule the afterlife. He’s interrupted by Beast and a highly entertaining fight ensues, where Beast displays both his physical strength, but also his mental strength, as he uses mathematics to know the perfect place to chop down Azazel’s ship’s mast to cause it all to come tumbling down. Beast is a rare character in comics in that he’s a powerhouse who rarely demonstrates that, but here, he was bad-ass. However he’s not able to defeat Azazel, who uses his teleportation to stab Beast, and them push him back in to the sea. But of course, he comes back for more…
The story then moves over to another one of Azazel’s ships, where Storm has been captured and keeps trying to escape. Just as one of the demons is about to chop off her hands… it’s Nightcrawler to the rescue, with a truly awesome splash-page. Seriously, I want that picture of Nightcrawler standing on the Steering Wheel as a poster, it’s awesome. Ed McGuinness is fantastic throughout this issue, but it’s when he’s drawing Nightcrawler that he shines brightest I think, he draws the best version of the character since his creator, Dave Cockrum. Storm is amazed to see her friend back amongst the living (well, not quite), and he gets to play the Errol Flynn part to a tee in saving her.
The sexual nature of their relationship was surprising to me, it really did look like Storm wanted to make out with him. I guess I never thought of these two characters as romantically linked, but it must have been established somewhere. If it hasn’t, Aaron himself provides a flashback to the very early days of the ‘All-New, All Different’ era, with Kurt convincing Ororo to stay an X-Man by building her first indoor garden. That garden is a big part of Storm’s character, and having Kurt be the one behind it shows just how important a character he is, he really is the heart and soul of the X-Men.
Storm and Nightcrawler are able to defeat the demons, only for them to crash right into Azazel’s ship, where they are reunited with Beast. Only… he’s not the friendly Beast they now, the off-panel fight between Beast and Azazel’s crew has driven him feral, and the issue ends with him about to attack Nightcrawler.
This was another great issue, with strong character work from Aaron, brilliant art and cool moments. Hell (this is not a pun), this issue didn’t even feature Firestar, Iceman, Northstar or Wolverine, and it was still awesome.