Now that we’re a month into 2023, the thought of books being released this year is something that’s been on my mind. Like every year, there are plenty of new releases for anyone and everyone to enjoy. For me, I have a few, ranging from fantasy to fiction to romance. And while I am sure there will be a few surprise releases that I may want to read, these are the books I am currently anticipating the most this year.
Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt by Lucinda Riley and Harry Whittaker
What will most likely be the last book in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series, Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt will tell the story about the enigmatic Pa Salt. The man who adopted and raised the six main sisters, and is the father to the “missing sister”. From what I can guess, this will cover questions about Pa Salt that were left unanswered. Who was Pa Salt? What inspired him to do what he did. And get a deep dive into his character while he was alive.
With Lucinda Riley passing not long after the release of The Missing Sister, her son Harry Whittaker took it upon himself to finish his mother’s book. She already had a bit of a start and an outline, so he already had a general idea for what to do.
I’ve been following this series since Moon Sister (book five) was released. And while part of me will miss it when it’s over, I’m glad that I found this series.
Mercy Thompson Book 14 by Patricia Briggs
According to Patricia Briggs’ website and Goodreads, the fourteenth book in the Mercy Thompson series is set to be released some point this year. And though I may be feeling some reading fatigued for the Mercy Thompson series, I will probably read it anyways. I’m already caught up, so I might as well.
Not much is known about this book at this time other than it is set to release this year. It doesn’t currently have a title or synopsis yet.
Sins of Sinister by Kieron Gillen
As for comics/graphic novels series I am looking forward to three runs. Sins of Sinister is one of them. Much like Back in a Spell Sins of Sinister has already started. However, Sins of Sinister is currently an on going series.
This series looks into High Council member and known X-Man antagonist Mister Sinister (Nathaniel Essex). Sinister has been scheming from the beginning and is putting his plans into action. This also includes a series of Nightcrawler hybrid chimeras, which I think is what I’m most interested in. Especially given Nightcrawler’s current state. It looks to be an eleven issue series including three, three part series (Storm and the Brotherhood of Evil, Immoral X-Men, and The Nightcrawlers).
It looks to be a wild and interesting ride and will end before the Fall of X event.
Sons of X by Simon Spurrier
There is going to be four ,four-shot stories set before the Fall of X event. Under the moniker Before the Fall one of those stories is Sons of X. Appearing to pick up from where Legion of X will leave off, Sons of X will focus on David Haller (Legion) and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) dealing with Mother Righteous and Margali Szardos. I’ve been enjoying Spurrier’s Krakoa stuff and I really enjoy the dynamic between Legion and Nightcrawler that has been building since Way of X.
Sons of X will probably answer whatever questions Legion of X will leave off on. Which will most likely include: Kurt’s monstrous condition, fighting Margali, a fight against Mother Righteous, and Nightcrawler regaining the Hopesword (read Legion of X #10). I hope this won’t be the last run with Legion and Nightcrawler since I love their dynamic so much. However, I also can’t wait for Sons of X to be released.
Fall of X
This event starts in summer of 2023. There isn’t much on what this event will be about, but current theories include Krakoa falling, the system on Krakoa falling, and this possibly implying Charles Xavier (Professor X) will fall, be it death or morally. Whatever the case, something big will be happening.
The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi
I’m making my way through the first book of this trilogy, The Final Strife, and I’m hooked. I’m always looking to expand my fantasy reads and this was one that I stumbled upon at my library and ended up buying. Since this will be a trilogy, I think I’m going to have a really good time with it.
With The Battle Drum coming out May 23rd of this year, that gives me time to finish The Final Strife. I’ve just been taking my time with it since it is a longer book, the hardcover totaling at 644 pages, and I didn’t want to brush through it like I can with smaller books. I’ll probably end up purchasing The Battle Drum when it is released since I am enjoying it and would like to have it in my collection.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
Similar to The Final Strife, S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy was a trilogy that I came across while looking for new fantasy. Said trilogy utilized Middle Eastern tales and creatures and spun an interesting and engaging stroy.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi kicks off Chakraborty’s next trilogy, which has been described as the tale of Sinbad with a twist. It’ll have pirates, magic, artifacts, and a female lead, and sounds like a fun new trilogy. This first book is set to be released on February 23rd, so it won’t be long before this book hits shelves.
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date by Ashley Herring
I had started the Bright Fall series by Ashley Herring around the same time I started Lana Harper’s The Witches of Thistle Grove series. I am currently working on the second book of the Bright Fall series, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, which was released towards the end of last year and the third book, Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date appears to have a November 2023 release date. That will give me plenty of time to finish Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.
I’ll admit, I am a bit mixed about this series, or at the very least the first book, Dalilah Green Doesn’t Care. The story itself was fine enough, if a little formulaic/cliché. Essentially about Delilah coming back to her hometown and getting involved with her estranged step-sister’s wedding. Delilah ends up stringing a plan to break things off between Astrid and her fiancé upon realizing Astrid’s fiancé isn’t a great guy. She also makes a bet with Astrid that she can get Claire to like her.
I’ve seen critiques for the breaking up Astrid and her fiancé plot being not as good as it could be and over the top where a simple conversation could have helped. I can see how people may have that criticism, though mine is more so with the approach to Delilah and Claire getting together. I do think they could make a good couple, but the whole bet concept Delilah had with Astrid, to me, felt akin to a Hallmark movie plot. Especially with how it concluded.
Now, I am still willing to give this series a try seeing as each book seems to focus on a different character. So I may enjoy Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail and Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date. Wish I could say the same with The Witches of Thistle Grove series, where I enjoyed the first book, the second was okay, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of the third (I just want to finish the series out at this point).
Bewitched by Laura Thalassa
I’m not someone who consciously looks into BookTok books. I may pick a book or two up that are talked on BookTok and periodically check into what BookTok is talking about, but I usually look for books that I think I’ll enjoy. It’s just sometimes that overlaps into what BookTok is discussing/recommending unintentionally. This author happens to be one that has been talked about on BookTok apparently.
Note: BookTok, for those of you who may not know, is a side of the app TikTok that’s dedicated to talking about books. This can include recommendations, ratings, what their reading, and so on. It seems to be a popular side of the app, though, I only really follow one person who’s a BookToker and willo.
Now, I came across this author when looking for something new while at Barnes and Noble. I spotted the first books for her Bargainer and The Four Horsemen series (Rhapsodic and Pestilence respectively) and thought I might check them out. I didn’t end up getting to either series, though mostly due to life, motivation, and other books. I may try to give them a try later, especially since they are on my to read list and Goodreads let me know they were holding a giveaway for the entire Bargainer series. It’s because of that giveaway notification that I ended up checking into what else the author has written and I ended up finding this book.
It comes out on April 18th so I may give it a try.
When You Wish Upon a Star by Elizabeth Lim
On series I have been keeping up with, but not reading every book, is the Twisted Tales series. This is a YA series that takes Disney properties and twists the tale with a simple what if question. An example would be in Reflection another book in the series Elizabeth Lim worked on. This book takes Mulan and asks, “what if Mulan had to go to the underworld?” It’s set up after the fight with the Huns, and after Shang takes a fatal blow, it’s up to Mulan, or Ping as the troops know her, going to the underworld to bring Shang back.
Though a series, each book is a standalone book. So the only ones you have to read are the ones that interest you.
When You Wish Upon a Star is the newest book. This one focusing on (the movie) Pinocchio and asks, “What if the Blue Fairy Wasn’t Supposed to Help Pinocchio?” With that in mind, it looks like this book will focus on the Blue Fairy or Chiara as she will also be known as in the book. It would appear there will be a few Twisted Tales books released this year, including an anthology, and When You Wish Upon a Star appears to be the first of these, set to release in April.
So far, these are the books I am looking forward to reading this year. Some fiction, some fantasy, even a few graphic novels. And though not the only books I plan to read this year, I can’t wait to get started on them.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Darick Robertson, 2004’s Nightcrawler marks the third time Nightcrawler had a solo outing, but the first time he had a multi-volume (two to be exact) run as opposed to the previous two four issue runs. This has to be one of my favorite Nightcrawler centered runs thus far, with Way of X being another and Claremont’s 70’s and 80’s being a good X-Men run that also happens to have him in it.
Minor Content Disclaimer
This series does use the term g*psy twice when introducing Margali in two issues. As well as two stereotypes: Margali being a fortune teller and her and her family being a part of the circus. I had previously learned that fortune telling is a common stereotype for Romani people while the stereotype of them working in the circus (and certain entertainment fields) is something I learned recently.
Based on what I currently know, I am viewing this similarly to how I did with Moon Sister, namely a Q&A and synopsis (can’t remember if the term was used in the book at the moment). That being, I do not believe the people behind the series were trying to be malicious. Misinformed and/or uninformed? Perhaps. There is also the fact that this is an almost twenty year old series, which more than anything, gives context for how Romani characters has changed in the years since.
That does not mean I am excusing the term or stereotypes. I many be giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to intent, until proven otherwise (if proven otherwise). It is still an issue even if they weren’t meaning to be. Nor does it’s age excuse it. It may provide context for howRomani characters were approach then compared to now, but that doesn’t mean the series gets a pass.
I strive to be as mindful as I can be when it comes to reviews, recommendations, and the like. And when making reviews for books or any media (movies, shows, etc.), if there’s something that people might want to know about (ex. content warnings or a disclaimer for terms/topics/etc. that might seem jarring or problematic), I will mention it.
This run focuses on two different yet interconnected stories. The first volume deals with demons and murder in a hospital. The second, deals with Nightcrawler’s past and how a demon named Hive was associated with it.
In The Devil Inside (issues 1-6), Nightcrawler is tasked with investigating the murder of thirteen children at a hospital with the only survivor, a young boy named Seth, being the key to unraveling the true nature of these murders. With the help of the night nurse Christine and Ororo keeping an eye on the case, Nightcrawler finds out the haunting and supernatural reason behind the murders and Dr. Childs’ involvement.
In The Winding Way (Issues 7-12) Nightcrawler is tormented by a series of surreal dreams involving his past at the circus and something called the Soulsword. This leads to Kurt, alongside Christine and Logan to investigate the circus he had spent quite a bit of time in. And along the way, Amanda Sefton and Margali Szardos, Nightcrawler’s adopted family, alongside Dr. Strange antagonist Nightmare, come to help. After Nightcrawler learns about what is going on and how to stop an array of demons looking for the Soulsword, it concludes with a surprise visit on his birthday.
This series has quite a few good things in it. The art is good. The story is neat. And the supernatural elements to it feel suitable for a Nightcrawler series.
The artwork here is pretty good. Darick Robertson, who has work on The Boys and Legends of the Dark Knight, did a good job. Greg Land, who also worked on the X-Men story Second Coming, is also mentioned as an artist for the series as well, and I think what he contributed is good too.
Though not the most magically savvy like Magik or other sorcerer/sorceress Marvel characters, I did think that having the supernatural element to this series was a good approach. I feel like Nightcrawler stories do have some versatility to them. Some that readers have seen include swashbuckling adventures with pirates, exploring his past, exploring his religious root, and learning to embrace himself for how he looks even if others do not. The direction this run took I feel works with his character. Because while he isn’t a literal sorcerer, his whole shtick with being a “demon” I feel works with how this story also deals with him fighting them, including the brief interaction with Mephisto, as well as his history with Margali and Amanda, two known sorceresses, who help him out with both main plot points in this run. This story also mixes events from his past with the occult stuff with the present conflict, like what really happened the night Nightcrawler killed Stephan, which I think was an interesting way to explore that. Overall, I think the supernatural aspect of this story really works for this series.
Tying into that, I think the story was a well written one. The transition from the first main plot with the hospital to Kurt searching for answers in regards to the Soulsword was solid. The story about the ghosts haunting the subway was a good transitional issue before it got into the main plot of The Winding Way. While the concluding issue wrapped up the necessary plot point that needed to be.
Nothing really felt out of place for what this series was trying to tell, and I liked how it tied a few things together. Namely how the Soulsword and the demons involved with attacking Kurt and his allies ended up tying into Kurt’s past. Without spoiling too much, it tied into a ringleader who wasn’t particularly kind to Kurt. It was also tied to the death of Stefan Szardos’, Margali’s son, which happened after Kurt promised Stefan that he would to stop him by any means should he lose his way.
As far as characters, I think this series handled them well. No one felt out of character. The characters who had a main role outside of Kurt (for obvious reasons) include Ororo (Storm), Logan (Wolverine), Christine Pakmer, Amanda Sefton, Margali Szardos, Hank McCoy (Beast), and Nightmare. Other characters include the doctor at the hospital, the young boy that survived the incident at the hospital, the ghosts of the miners, and the ringleader. And the main antagonists were the demons involved with the hospital murders and the ones sent to retrieve the Soulsword.
Kurt was the star of the series and it did a great job of handling his character and how he approached the conflicts in it. I also really enjoyed how Storm interacted with him as well as Nightcrawler, Storm, and Logan worked together for an issue. The banter between Nightcrawler and Beast was also amusing and insightful. Honestly, I think this series is one of the best examples of just how well he connects with his friends and fellow X-Men and how well of an impact he has on people.
When it comes to this series, I feel like it did a lot of good things. The art was good and the transition between the two main stories was solid. I enjoyed both stories and feel that characters, especially Nightcrawler, That said, this is not a perfect series, and I do have a few critiques. But before that, I wanted to quickly discuss Margali and Amanda as characters separately.
Margali and Amanda: As Characters
The reason I want to separate these two is because I wanted to talk about what I felt they did right in terms of Margali and Amanda as characters. Because while I do not approve of the term or stereotypes, I do want to address what I believe was done well with the characters and their characterization.
In terms of characterization, I would say they were done well. They do not have a lot of appearances since their debut in 1976 (Amanda) and 1980 (Margali and Stefan). Amanda has a few more appearances due to her relationship with Kurt, but both characters aren’t as utilized when compared to other X-Men characters. So having them here was nice. That said, the reason I feel that their characters were done well was because of the role thy had in the series. That being to help Nightcrawler with his cases and showing how he valued his family.
As magic based characters, they had a better understanding of what was going around Nightcrawler and the supernatural conflicts he was looking into. Margali also had a better understanding of the Soulsword and it’s whereabouts. As Kurt’s family, they always have significant. Because Margali took him in when Mystique had abandoned him, Kurt developed a love for his adopted family. So much so that he still sees Margali as a mother, calling her “mother” and “mamí” on several occasions. Family and acceptance has always been important to Nightcrawler’s character. Especially with how most of the world shuns him for being the way he looks. And this series exhibits that through flashbacks, how he interacts with Amanda and Margali, and how they are there to help him.
It’s also worth mentioning that Margali and Amanda were never villainized for being Romani. They were treated as characters and as people.
As for the issues in series surrounding how they are referred to and affiliations, I can say that they are no longer members of the circus and Margali is no longer a fortune teller. And though they haven’t appeared as often as say Wanda or Pietro, I’m sure they will/would be referred to as Romani in future appearances (I’m uncertain what issues they appear in after Kurt’s death in 2010’s Second Coming and his post resurrection solo in 2014, so I cannot say if they have been referred to as Romani in between those). The only thing that has stuck is their past in the circus, which I do not see that changing anytime soon due to Nightcrawler’s past being so linked to Margali and the circus.
However, overall, I would say that Margali and Amanda were treated well as characters. Though the language and stereotypes are there, which are issues regardless, they weren’t villainized in the series for being Romani. And the role that they had was key in helping Kurt and building on how he views his adopted family.
When it comes to negatives, there are two main critiques I have: Christine’s role after the events of the first six issues and a key element to Amanda and Nightcrawler’s relationship that is still present today.
When it comes to Christine, I feel like they didn’t know what to do with her after the events from The Devil Inside. While she is there for support, it just didn’t feel like she had much to do. The biggest point being the state of their relationship, and the uncertainty of it working out. They do end up breaking up with Christine stating that she would be moving for a job, and Kurt agreeing it was probably for the best. Though he did offer to try and make things work.
Other than that, she didn’t have that much purpose during The Winding Way. She and Logan do accompany him on his journey back to the circus he spent time in, both agreeing to come along when asked. Other than that, she ends up getting attack and almost killed. And when it comes to the main conflict, Christine didn’t seem to have as much to do outside of some dialogue and a sense of urgency after she’s attacked. It’s a shame because I feel they could have done something more with her (not sure what at the moment). Though if they only wanted to address their relationship and break up, I feel they could have done one of two things: have Christine stay behind and reveal that she no longer thinks things will work out, or she comes along and after seeing Kurt getting severely hurt, she decides to call it off because she can no longer take the stress of worrying about him dying.
Overall though, I just think that Christine loses something between The Demon Inside and The Winding Way.
When it comes to Nightcrawler and Amanda’s relationship, there has been an aspect of it that always felt odd to me. That being that they dated. At first glance, it might not seem like much to worry about. The problem is, Amanda is Margali’s daughter, and Margali adopted Nightcrawler. Thereby making them adopted siblings.
Even if Nightcrawler wasn’t officially/legally adopted by Margali, she still adopted and raised him as her own. And yes, this isn’t the only time they were romantically involved (they were in some of the earlier X-Men runs and again in the 2014 Nightcrawler solo). However, considering how Nightcrawler sees Margali as a mother and Stefan a brother, which is reciprocated, why the same was never said about Amanda is strange. Yet, Marvel has repeatedly gone back to them dating, despite them being essentially siblings.
Now, to give credit where it’s due, this is probably the least questionable instance in my opinion. In the series, they aren’t together in the present. They were in the past, which is shown through a memory where Kurt teleports to save Amanda when a stunt goes wrong. And in the heat of the moment, they kiss. Then it’s later addressed that Nightcrawler had broken up with her due Amanda to not always being completely honest with him. It may have a few minor instances where it’s referenced, but other than that, I do feel like this series had the least questionable instance of their romance based on the fact that they weren’t together anymore.
The handling of Christine and Kurt’s relationship with the Amanda were the bigger issues I had with the series. Those, and the problematic elements surrounding the apporach to Romani characters, mainly Margali (the stereotypes and term). Christine could have been handled better in the second half of the series due to it feeling like she wasn’t as needed. And while I don’t think Amanda is a bad character and am fine with her having a good relationship with Nightcrawler, I do have an issue with them being romantically involved due to Margali being a mother to both of them. As for the term and stereotypes, regardless of intent or the time it was released, is an issue. I do hope (and currently presume) that they have since learned about the nature of the stereotypes and term and have become more conscientious of it.
I would give this series and eight and a half out of ten. Overall, I would definitely say that this is a really good X-Men stories and one of my favorites when it comes to Nightcrawler. It had a good atmosphere the supernatural elements and the story it told was an interesting one. It also gives some nice insight into Nightcrawler’s past and how it ties to the cases in the present. And the characters for the most part are really good. Kurt as the lead especially, as well as characters like Storm, Wolverine, Margali, Beast, and Amanda.
It does, however, use some terminology and stereotypes towards the Romani that haven’t aged, and in hindsight shouldn’t have been used (unfortunately, there might not be much that can be done about their past in the circus given it’s significant ties to Nightcrawler’s backstory). And while Christine and Amanda had some good contributions to the series, there are a few issues with them. Namely, it doesn’t feel like Christine had much to do in The Winding Way and while it was in the past and not exclusive to this series, Amanda’s romance with Nightcrawler has always been a strange choice to me due to their relationship to Margali.
If you’re looking for a good X-Men title, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Nightcrawler is worth a read.
It might go without saying, but Nightcrawler is my favorite Marvel character. In my experience, I will find that one character that I really get invested in and want to read up on. When it comes to DC, that comes in the form of Tim Drake (Red Robin/Robin III), Roy Harper (Speedy/Arsenal), Joey Wilson (Jericho), and Ra’s al Ghul. Of course, I enjoy other characters from both Marvel and DC (ex. Wolverine, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, Red Hood (Jason Todd), and Starfire), but there will usually be one or two characters that I will always return to.
I thought I would go over where my interest for Nightcrawler began, why I like him, and X-Men comics that I own, alongside Nightcrawler centered stories.
A Little Bit of Background on My Relationship with Marvel and DC
Before I jump right in, I feel like I should preface this stating how I was mostly a DC viewer growing up. A number of my favorite shows as a kid included Static Shock, Teen Titans, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman Beyond. I did watch Marvel shows like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and snippets of X-Men Evolution, enjoyed the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, as well as liking the first 2000’s Fantastic Four. I would certainly say I was more of a DC fan as a kids.
That kind of continued when I finally got into comics during the rise of DC’s Rebirth comic line after spending years as a slightly more avid manga reader. I started reading up on characters I liked and branched out and found new characters and series to enjoy. Recently, I feel like I’ve hit a wall with what to read next with DC. With Rebirth ending and not really knowing what to jump into next, I was at a bit of a stalemate. During this time is when I got interested in checking out Marvel content. More specifically Nightcrawler/X-Men. I cannot pinpoint exactly when or why it started, but it was in the last few months.
Currently, I’ve read through a good chunk of the original X-Men run, read through the 2003 run of Wolverine, a few smaller X-Men runs like X-Men Gold, X-Men Red, and All New X-Men, and am planning to jump into Sandman (DC/Gaiman) and getting into the X-Men run starting with House of X.
The Beginning: Where it Began
With that little bit of history out of the way, allow me to get into Nightcrawler. I guess it would have started with X-Men Evolution. I didn’t watch it much when I was younger, but when I did catch it, I found myself liking Kurt. It probably had to do with how laid back he was and him being the more comedic of the gang (that probably contributed to why I liked TMNT 2003’s Michelangelo too). One episode of X-Men Evolution I remember watching was Middleverse, the season one episode where Kurt accidently ends up in another dimension of sorts and meets Forge. It wasn’t the only X-Men media I had watched over the years, as I also remember seeing Wolverine 2013, First Class, and was overall aware of the X-Men movies. Though, I will admit that I never got around to all of it back then.
Jump to the latter half of 2021. I was trying to find more graphic novels to read, but I was at a bit of a stalemate. I fell into a bit of a DC slump. Rebirth was ending and The Joker War event, mainly what they did with the Nightwing portion, I think burnt me out a little. Nothing seemed to be grasping my interest except for Batman Urban Legends, which is where Tim Drake came out as bisexual. Side note: I actually purchased a hard copy of Batman Urban Legends not too long ago.
It would be around this time that I would start getting into Nightcrawler. And it involved a crossover in a DC community I am apart of. It’s there that this interest in Kurt returned. It would respawned an interest in Nightcrawler and be what lead to my getting into X-Men as a whole.
Then came the movies, which I am getting around to binging. I think the only reason I hadn’t was because of how the timeline diverged after First Class and/or Days of Future Past, and for whatever reason that confused me at first. That and the poor reception of The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Dark Phoenix. In hindsight, the timeline of the movies isn’t all that complicated, and I’m still going to watch all of movies, weaker ones included. The movies also had some stellar casting choices. Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, and Hugh Jackman were all iconic. A good chunk of the cast was also good. For instance, people really seem to enjoy Evan Peters’ Peter (Pietro) Maximoff, myself included.
And of course, there’s Kurt Wagner. Portrayed by Alan Cummings in X2 and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, I would say both did well with the character. I kind of like Kodi Smit-McPhee’s a little better, but Alan Cummings did good too. I only wish either appearance confirmed Nightcrawler’s relation with Mystique, his mother. Heck, they could have confirmed both of Nightcrawler’s parents in Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix since Azazel, his father, appeared in First Class (and later confirmed dead) and Mystique was present since First Class.
That’s were it all began. An interest in Nightcrawler’s X-Men Evolution would go dormant until a crossover event reignited by interest in the character. And his portrayals in the movies have caught my interest.
The Character: Why I Like Him
Why do I like Nightcrawler? There’s a lot to like about him, I think. In terms of design, he looks pretty cool. His abilities are neat and his weaknesses make sense. For me, it comes down to personality, backstory, and what he represents.
In terms of personality, he’s light-hearted and optimistic. He can display moments of anger, sorrow, and fear, but he is usually seen as pretty positive, all things considered. And with Logan being his best friend, it’s the perfect balance to his more stern and pessimistic world view. He’s flirty, but not in a problematic or annoying kind of way. In some ways, he could be seen as a hopeful outlook for the future, while also not being blind to the problems in the world.
His backstory. There is a lot that went wrong in his life, despite what his more positive outlook might suggest. His mother abandoned him as a baby. The circus that he was raised in drugged and used him. Said circus was also going to sell him to be a road side attraction if not for Margali Szardos, his adopted mother, freeing him. And because of a promise he made, Kurt had to kill his adopted brother when he lost his mind and killed a bunch of people, not that the mob knew.
I think his past is something that helps show how despite how terrible things can be, people can still come out of it on top. It might not be easy, but it is possible. Life didn’t give Nightcrawler much peace prior to joining the X-Men. Margali and her biological children certainly love him like family, but the circus they were apart of wanted to exploit him. And the reason Charles found him being pursued was because the mob chasing him thought he killed Stefan Szardos and the missing people, when in actuality, Stefan killed the missing people and Kurt only killed Stefan out of self-defense and a promise he made to Stefan, where if Stefan went off the deep end, Kurt would stop him. Yet, he never became cruel later in life, rather, he was a better person than those who wronged him.
I also kind of like how he got the last name Wagner. At least originally. I’m not sure if Marvel ever retconned the whole thing where Mystique was married to Baron Christian Wagner and had an affair with Azazel, which later lead to Kurt’s conception, and that being where Kurt got his last name despite not being the baron’s biological son. Originally, Kurt took on the last name Wagner because of a priest to housed him after Margali released him and he was being pursued. Father Wagner gave Kurt a place to stay, despite Kurt’s “demonic” appearance. This is also where Kurt’s teleporting would come into effect as he would use it when Herr Getmann’s men came for him. He did end up leaving the church, but Kurt didn’t forget the priest’s kindness, taking on the last name Wagner in his honor.
As for what Kurt represents, I feel he fits into a few different categories. I’ve mentioned how he represents good people rising up from bad situations, which is one thing he can represent. Something else he represents is how people shouldn’t judge things based on how they appear. The old Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover saying if you will. He might look evil/demonic, but is one of the most kind hearted and saintly people out there. That’s something that also makes his friendship with Logan great and so symbolic. Both of them are considered monsters in some way, externally (Kurt) or internally (Logan). Yet, both are also human. Logan has gone onto say how Kurt is one of the most saintly guys he’s met, and Kurt, despite knowing how gruesome his job can be, sees the good in Logan and knows that he’s not an animal or evil.
One other thing I feel Kurt represents, and this could just be me, is irony. He’s a “demon” yet he’s Catholic. He’s morally good, while his parents would be considered morally bad (though Mystique could be morally grey given she isn’t purely evil and has helped her children). Both of which I feel perfectly define what irony is.
Reading Between the Lines: Comics I’ve Read and Comics I Own
I own a handful of X-Men comics. Some solo series, some with the team. Nightcrawler has a few solo series: Age of X-Men: The Amazing Nightcrawler, X-Men Icons: Nightcrawler, a four issue mini series, and two twelve solo series in 2003 and 2014. Of his solo pieces, I own the 2003 and 2014. I haven’t started them yet, but I have skimmed through both.
As far as X-Men comics with Nightcrawler as a central character, I’ve read and own several. Of course there is the X-Men run in the 70’s, starting with Giant Sized X-Men #1 by Chris Claremont. That run, which does go on for several years, is recommended by quite a few people who want to start X-Men comics. It’s a classic and a good place for a start. I don’t own any of the Claremont run, but I do have a list of issues that I’d like to purchase one day. A few other series I’ve read through in their entirety include X-Men Gold, Extraordinary X-Men. I’ve read some of Wolverine’s 2003 run, some of Wolverine’s first solo, Second Coming, the story where Nightcrawler dies, and one volume of Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men. Specifically the Trial of Juggernaut volume since it had the notoriously bad story, The Draco, which I only read after I learned about Kurt’s father through the First Class movie and his appearance in Amazing X-Men volume one (the one where Nightcrawler is brought back to life).
I like Azazel, and don’t mind him as Kurt’s father. It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but that’s okay. I was going to read The Draco either way because I wanted to see how bad it was. But since I liked Azazel in his other appearances, The Draco didn’t tarnish it much, outside of thinking that the story could have been a whole lot better.
A few other comics I own, but have yet to start, include House of M, Inferno, Giant-Sized X-Men volume #1 (2020), Way of X, X-Men (2020) volume one, Amazing X-Men volume 1 The Quest for Nightcrawler, The Hellfire Gala, Wolverine (2020) volumes 1-3, The Death of Wolverine, The Return of Wolverine, Wolverine: Weapon X the Gallery Edition, and Wolverine the Deluxe Edition. I might be missing one or two, but those are the ones I know I own. Nightcrawler also appears in a number of them.
I would certainly say that my collection is very Nightcrawler and Wolverine involved. Yes, the broader X-Men comics do have the rest of the X-Men, but if there was a pattern, that would be it. Which is by no means a problem. Everyone reads comics a bit differently. I will certainly read a series if it interests me, but I also like reading comics with my favorite characters. It’s a reader by reader basis.
While I would recommend all of these, if you are looking for Nightcrawler reads, I would recommend: Claremont’s run starting with Giant-Sized X-Men #1, Nightcrawler (2003), Wolverine by Greg Rucka #6, for both a great story with Logan and Kurt and a gem of a censor passing cover, Second Coming, Amazing X-Men, Nightcrawler (2014), House of M, X-Men Gold, X-Men (2020), Giant-Sized X-Men (2020), Return of Wolverine, Way of X, and Inferno. There are more out there, I am still working my way through X-Men comics.
And as for movies, I’d recommend X2, X-Men Apocalypse, and X-Men Dark Phoenix. I know the last one is considered more of a miss, just like the Dark Phoenix adaptation before it (The Last Stand), but thought I would include it.
BAMF: The Conclusion
Though not X-Men’s most popular member, Nightcrawler is one that is generally liked. For me, a combination of his personality, backstory, adaptations, and what he symbolically represents is what I enjoy. I also really enjoy his friendship with Logan. I hope you enjoyed this little deep dive into why I like Kurt Wagner.
Now I leave you with the following. What are your thoughts on Nightcrawler? What are your favorite adaptations of Nightcrawler? Favorite stories? Who’s your favorite X-Men member?
Friendships are wonderful little things. Anyone can form friendships with anybody. Maybe they have similar interests and/or backgrounds. Maybe they have some similarities and differences and those differences do not hinder a healthy friendship.
Friendships can be found anywhere. School. Work. At the park and so on. Even online. So long as people can interact with each other, friendships can be made. You’ll even find friendships in media, be it shows like Degrassi, movies like The Outsiders, or books like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
The point is, friendships can be found anywhere and everywhere. They are a significant relationship in everyday life, and can be with anyone.
Now, there are a lot of friendships in media that people will know of and/or enjoy. A few examples include, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Sherlock Holmes, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took from Lord of the Rings, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings, Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Flash (Barry Allen), and Woody and Buzz from Toy Story.
If there’s one friendship that might not get as talked about, especially outside of the X-Men sphere, it’s the friendship between Logan (Wolverine) and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler). Compared to the likes of the Scott, Jean, and Logan trifecta, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver), Mystique, Rogue, and Destiny, Mystique and Kurt, and the Erik and Charles friendship, this might not be a relationship people think about when someone says “X-Men relationships”.
So I thought I would take the time to discuss what I believe one of the best friendships in comics. These two have such a close friendship and is one that should be appreciated for what it is. Because even with how different these
Isn’t that just a passionate quote? And it really says a lot about how people view Logan and just how different Kurt was in that regard. This quote also says a lot about being human, something both characters have an odd relationship with.
But what does it mean to be human? That’s something that can cause confusion or understanding depending on how you approach the question.
There’s the physical/biological side, where one would be able to identify the differences between say a human and a panda for instance. Or in the case of Science Fiction and comics, the differences between human and alien. Some aliens look human, but have superhuman abilities (Superman) and those that don’t (Martian Manhunter) and have different abilities and anatomy.
In a metaphorical sense, ‘being human’ can refer to imperfections or emotions. As the old saying goes, ‘nobody’s perfect’ and that seems to be synonymous with being human. And the emotional side of it refers to how, as human, people are supposed to have emotions. People are not robots and emotions are a key factor into that.
For X-Men, and more specifically Logan and Kurt, being human seems to refer to how good/kind hearted/pure a person is. And despite mutants being, well mutants, they are as human as anyone else. And considering X-Men was inspired by and originally an allegory for the Civil Rights Movement, being released on ’63, its safe to say that a feeling of being human is prevalent for this series.
And in the case of Logan and Kurt, being human has a double meaning. Both characters are known for being human (pure/integral or in appearance) in one sense and monsters in others (appearance and actions).
Logan: Human in Appearance, Animalistic in Nature
Starting with Logan, one would say he looks generally human. Barring the adamantium skeleton and claws. He could pass for human more so than Kurt, not even needing an image inducer to do so. When it comes to looking human, Logan certainly passes the appearance portion, much like a great number of other mutants. It’s only when the claws are drawn when he doesn’t.
But on the inside , he would be considered a monster. A man with a violent streak, who isn’t afraid to kill and with a berserk mean streak, it easy to see why people would be more scared of him and see him as a monster. And Logan knows it. He also has a more cynical world view. And while not inherently bad, it may make approaching him that much harder.
Kurt: Demonic in Appearance, Saintly at Heart
For Kurt, it’s the exact opposite. Being labeled as a monster and a demon were things that he grew up with. He was drugged by the circus, abandoned as a baby, even chased by a mob when they thought he killed some kids despite only killing his adopted brother in self-defense and a promise (if his adopted brother ever went insane, he promised to do whatever it took to stop him).
Yet, Kurt is the most pure hearted mutant out there. Logan even went as far as to say Kurt was the closest thing to a saint there is. While maybe not perfect, he is a wonderful human being. And that’s even more apparent when you consider who his parents are. He represents never judging people based on their appearances.
Time and time again, they show that there is good in them. Even if Logan is harsher in his methods, he does have a kinder side. And Kurt, despite looking like he would hunt someone down and kill them, has a heart of gold.
For them, being human is less of a feeling of normalcy, but something that shows how good they are as people. That while having faults and at times making not great choices, they are no less human than the average person and deserve respect.
Seeing their humanity is something that makes their friendship worthwhile. In a world where people’s humanity can be forgotten at times, friendships like these can help humanize people. That’s not to say that everything that criminals have done should be sympathized with, and that certain actions are inexcusable. Merely that the average person is human and should be understood, and sometimes it can be easy to forget a person’s humanity in the heat of a moment. And that’s what this friendship can symbolize.
This ties in with the previous point, but in regards to how well both characters understand each other and respect their humanity. Humanity and psychology is something that’s noted when it comes to Logan and Kurt, but it’s not always understood. Not every X-Men will have as deep of an understanding as these two do as friends. Even less so for the average non-mutant. There are a few people who have a general understanding of the two and why they are the way they are.
One example would be Storm. When Kurt died, she understood that Logan was grieving despite disapproving that his anger was getting the better of him with some of the students. Yes, he shouldn’t have been on the offensive when they were just trying to light some candles, but she knew he was grieving and that he thought they were taking Kurt’s belongings. She also understood Logan wishing he had killed more people if it meant Kurt lived. Even if it meant this moment would have been their last. She also understood where Kurt was coming from when dealing with a case with a child and demons. He was taking his time, but understood why he was.
Out of the two, Kurt would probably be considered the morally pure of them. Not just because he’s Catholic and that somehow gives him higher morality (people can be kind hearted whether they are religious or not), but because his character has always been presented as forgiving, kind hearted, and wanting to understand. Him being Catholic may be part of the reason, but not the only reason.
That doesn’t mean he is without flaws. Like everyone else, he’s not perfect. He has flaws and has made mistakes.
His biggest personal struggle comes in the form of his trauma growing up and showing his true colors. Because the mob was so intent on killing him, and the circus treating him as less than human, being self conscious about his appearance is reasonable.
Logan, meanwhile, is the more pragmatic of the two. Having lived for more than a century, it should be no surprise that he views the world more coldly. He experienced wars starting with the Civil War, was experimented on, suffered losses, and was used as a government tool.
That’s not to say that he isn’t a good person in some ways. He may choose to kill, but his motive is not one of malicious intent or animalistic desires (anymore).
Like Kurt he has his own internal struggles. His memory being one. Being treated as an animal and experimented on is another. The world he was exposed to makes him a lot more cynical and the horrors he’s seen traumatic. Yet, it’s being treated and perceived as an animal that really strikes a nerve. Logan knows he’s done a lot of things in his life, some that can be more rationalized than others. And while part of him may be used to the reactions he gets, he seems to have this drive to prove he’s not some animal that kills for nothing.
Some people may be able to understand their plight, however, the people who seem to understand the most about Kurt and Logan is Logan and Kurt. There’s at least one instance for each that stand out (though there are more). Wolverine (2003) #6 and Classic X-Men #4 The Big Dare.
Wolverine #6 (2003) by Greg Rucka
In Wolverine #6 (2003), when discussing how Logan killed twenty seven men to rescue hostages of a cult, Kurt tries to understand the reasoning behind it. He wasn’t looking for an excuse, but to better understand of Logan’s situation. He argues that had Logan acted in malice by killing innocent people, Logan would become the very thing he hated, and Kurt would try to stop him.
However, if the men needed to be punished for their evils, they got what they got what they deserved. Considering what Logan witnessed, justified would be pretty accurate. Kurt then uses a wolf allegory, asking if a wolf is evil for culling the sickness out of a heard. Said allegory can be interpreted as wolves not being evil for plucking off the weakest link. Or in the case of Logan, how killing the sicknesses (evils) of the world he is not evil for doing so. Probably a little bit of both.
After having time to think it over, Logan states how he’s not an animal, to which Kurt affirms that he isn’t. Because while Kurt’s allegory was metaphorical, one of Logan’s struggles is being seen as an animal. Something he has issue with in the past. Kurt knows this and has never once seen Logan as an animal (confirmed by Logan at Kurt’s funeral).
This shows how understanding, in this case Kurt, can be. Having an understanding of people is something worth having. Especially in friendships. Even if agreement isn’t always in sight, understanding and respecting friends is something worth knowing. And while there are lines, it never hurts to better understand another person.
The Big Dare (Classic X-Men #4, 1986)
One notable way that Logan accepts Kurt’s humanity comes in the form of The Big Dare. While he would later go on to say that Kurt is the closest thing to a saint there is, it’s this issue that cements their friendship while also trying to help Kurt get more comfortable walking around as his true self. Blue fur, tail, and all.
So Logan dares Kurt to walk around a town they were in without his image inducer. Note that he did not inherit Mystique’s shapeshifting, so he uses an image inducer to blend in. Logan wasn’t being malicious in doing so. He is well aware of how people treated Kurt in his past and doesn’t berate Kurt for hiding because of it. Logan just wants Kurt to be confident in his own skin, and to do so, needs to get comfortable being around people without hiding his appearance. Which is also gets brought up in the previously cited Wolverine issue.
Kurt agrees, and is surprised when most people seem unbothered by his appearance. Compared to the mob who attacked him, most people were either unfazed or curious about Kurt’s appearance, not malicious in either case. The only exception was with a gentleman who, upon realizing Kurt wasn’t wearing a costume, was going to attack Kurt. Logan retaliates by tackling the guy and going on the offensive, to the point Kurt has to separate the two.
Even though there was a bump in the trial, Kurt appreciated what Logan did for him and Logan replies with, ‘what are friends for?’ So not only does this issue confirm their friendship, but shows how having Kurt walk around as himself helped Kurt gain some confidence with it back.
Logan does this to help Kurt accept the part of himself he’s had to hide. He questions how Kurt expects to be accepted when even he won’t accept himself. There are things in life and relationships that will have to be accepted. Why that’s important in a friendship is because, whether it be a boundary, a limit, or what have you , being able to accept who you are is important. And sometimes it’s a friend that can helps you see it.
Both characters have died. Both have been revived. The reason I bring up death in regards to their friend is how they approached the others’ deaths. It was never brushed aside, even with how meaningless death can be in comics at time, they grieved, and they never forgot how impactful they were.
Now Logan has died a few more times than Kurt has, with the whole soul shenanigans that rendered Kurt nigh-immortal. But that’s not to say Kurt never grieved over the loss of Logan. While I may not have read every Logan death, one that sticks out as far as Kurt grieving is in Nightcrawler #7 (2014). This series picks up after Kurt’s revival at the beginning of 2013’s Amazing X-Men.
About half way through this short lived series (issue #7 from what I recall), readers get to see Kurt processing the death of Kurt. And though we do not get to see Kurt shedding any tears, we do get to see how he processes the loss via an internal conversation. In a similar way to Logan, he wonders what he could have done differently to prevent his death, but with the added acceptance/hindsight to know that there was nothing he could do.
Using Jean as a comparison, readers get to see how Logan’s death hurt him. He’s a good friend to Jean, and did miss and grieve for her, but the fact that he admits that losing Logan in the present, hurt so much more. That alone, goes to show how much he cares about Logan. And though expressed more than shown, it doesn’t need to paint a picture to know how good of friends they are. The last few decades already helped establish it. Though we would get little things here and there that references parts of their friendship. Like when he gives Old Man Logan a framed picture of himself, much like Logan had decades prior.
And then there’s Logan. When Kurt died while protecting Hope Summers, loss only begins to describe how much Kurt’s death effected him. He nearly attacked a student, thinking they were going to take stuff from his room when they were only going to leave a candle. He regrets not killing more people, feeling like if he had Kurt would be alive. He bitterly hopes that his sacrifice was worth it.
But most of all, the connection they made is significant to Logan. Not many people have been close to Logan, whether it be out of fear of him or Logan generally being a loner. Logan has a hard time making connections with people, so when he loses one of the few people he has, it only makes sense that he’d be broken up about it.
While showing emotion between friends is always a good thing, how the characters express them is one thing. And while they might not always express their emotions to each other, they know them well enough to recognize it.
Logan is typically known for exhibiting one of three kinds of expressions. Hardened realist, gruff loner, and angry. He’s not one for expressing emotions a lot. Love seen in a few instances, and sadness even less. The usual picture viewers get to see is a stoic or angry character hardened by his life experiences.
That’s not to say that Logan is without any “softer” emotions. After all, he has had a few loves, almost marrying Mariko at one point. I can also think of emotions surrounding Kurt’s death that he exhibited. Guilt that he couldn’t prevent it. Sadness and anger as he tried to cope. The one tear shed when he was reunited with Kurt before they fought Azazel and Kurt was revived. He can be a little more open with Kurt, be it with his philosophy, thoughts or feelings.
Kurt, meanwhile, isn’t as closed off emotionally. He will get angry, flirty, and sad. And if there was one way he reacts that’s notable is his self-consciousness as a result of trauma. Usually, he tries to appear happy and friendly, but does experience negative emotions and dower moments.
So when he appears withdrawn and depressed, like after he was resurrected in Amazing X-Men or when he was unusually quiet in Nation X #1, it’s something Logan is able to pick up on. Not only that, but try to get to the bottom of what’s eating away at him.
They are able to read each other better than others might. Both know the other’s quirks and demeanor well enough to know when something is wrong. They also aren’t afraid to be open with each other.
It’s also worth noting that they aren’t afraid of things like contact. While Kurt is certainly much more approach able, scenes like the one pictured here show that they aren’t afraid to show how much they care. Or at the very least the writer’s and artists, aren’t afraid to express how deep of a friendship they have.
While not trying to overgeneralize male friendships as a whole, in media, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that it isn’t common for two guy friends to express certain emotions or ‘hug it out’. Unless it was played for comedic effect or the media allows it because of the content (like a drama or something). Of course, entertainment has evolved in a lot of ways, but typically, it’s more likely that viewers will see girl friends hugging than guys (with other gestures like fist bumps or something as an alternative).
So little moments like Wolverine and Nightcrawler hugging in purgatory upon being reunited, while not groundbreaking, are moments that can be appreciated.
I conclude with a discussion on why the friendship between Wolverine and Nightcrawler is important. I’ve gone over a few reasons why/how it works, so I will only recap those briefly, while also adding a few more comments.
In summary, the fact that these two characters are complete opposites, can understand their quirks, and do have genuine emotional reactions with each other, especially when the other dies, Logan and Kurt make for an iconic duo. They might not always agree or share the same beliefs, but they respect/understand them.
With that said allow me to close out with one last question…
What Makes Their Friendship so Important?
One thing that has been consistent about X-Men is it’s message of acceptance. Being created during the Civil Right’s Movement, it’s easy to see why it would be. And when compared to DC, some people may consider Marvel a bit more relatable (though that’s not to say DC doesn’t have relatability whatsoever). Of course, given the nature of comics and superheroes as a genre, they aren’t as relatable on a technical level, but readers may be able to relate to Peter Parker as an everyday Joey was compared to billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.
Circling back to X-Men, it’s safe to say that acceptance is it’s biggest symbol/theme. Not only that, but it is a theme that is timeless and will always be relatable. That’s something that make X-Men as timeless as it is. Because beneath the adamantium claws, teleporting, and psionic prowess, are characters who fight for acceptance and equality.
Acceptance is also a big factor in Wolverine and Kurt’s friendship. Both characters have the hardest time being accepted by others. A big factor of that comes down to perception and how people could fear someone as violent and cold as Logan or as demonic looking as Kurt. Both deal with their fair share of grief and panic from the masses.
Yet, somehow, when these two are put on a team, they almost instantly connect. Logan quickly comes up with a nickname for Kurt (Elf) and Kurt isn’t immediately discourage by Logan’s gruff nature. Both characters are considered monsters by their peers, the average person, yet somehow found each other and connected. Kurt was the first to learn Logan’s name, and Logan the first to push Kurt towards self-acceptance.
The weight of the world’s perceived disdain with them creates a sense of loneliness. Yet, that distance created a relatability and spark between them. Both characters needed someone who could understand them. Someone who wasn’t afraid of them. Someone who cared about who they were as people. And that is exactly what they got when they met each other.
That’s what gives this friendship such an impact. When the rest of the world was against them, they found each other, saw the best in each other, and proved that neither were as monstrous as people made them out to be. They saw them as the people they were and accepted each other for who they were.
In my journey to read Nightcrawler focused arcs, I decided to read this kicker of a story. Going into this, I knew that this is a bit of a controversial/hated title and got the writer blackballed by Marvel and DC. I wasn’t sure when I would get to this, but since I got a copy via my library, now is as good a time as any.
Why Read it?
Some of you may be wondering, “if you already knew who Azazel was and how hated this story is, why read it?” Well, my curious reader, I actually have a few reasons for checking this out. Some of which are directed at how bad this story is perceived, and one seemingly reasonable rational.
The main reason I decided to jump into this, is for Nightcrawler himself. You see, when I get into a series (tv shows, movies, etc.) or conglomerates like DC and Marvel, I will typically latch onto/be drawn to a certain character or characters. For example with DC, it was Nightwing and later Red Robin (Tim Drake). For Marvel, and by extent X-Men, it’s Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner. As such, when I get interested in a character, I will want to read stories focusing on them, be it a solo series or in a team. So I was going to check this out eventually anyways.
Now, for the poorly received perspective, I kind of narrowed it down to three main reasons. They are reasons that I felt anyone could or would have when read something that’s considered bad. And for each reason, I will use an example of a poorly received X-Men movie as a comparison for uniformity’s sake.
Firstly, I wanted to read it to see how bad it is. While whether something is good or bad can be subjective at times, this seems to be a title that is almost unanimously hated. Especially with media (comics, video game, shows, etc.). I haven’t seen a lot of people, if any, defend this arc, and I don’t think I blame them. Think of it like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Someone might decide to it despite being told it was so bad (e.g. *insert comment about Deadpool*).
Secondly, to see if all the hate is really justified. Criticism is all fine and dandy, but sometimes, you may get a piece of media that maybe unjustly hated. Outside of Marvel, I would say it’s the 2009’s Watchmen. Was it a perfect adaptation? No, but I feel it did do a lot right. For Marvel, I’ll go with Dark Phoenix in this case. I have yet to see it myself (I’ll get to it since I am binging the X-Men movies), but from what I’ve heard, it’s one of those movies that certainly got a good amount of hate. Something it, and the previous Dark Phoenix movie (The Last Stand), have in common. This would probably be an example of a movie being justifiably criticized.
Lastly, it could be a case of a story being hated when it first came out, but maybe not as much today. Either because it’s bad in a dated sense (or what have you) or maybe it wasn’t as bad as you remembered, maybe being good for the time (but maybe not by today’s standards). Let’s go with The Last Stand in this case. Like Dark Phoenix, The Last Stand is considered the worst of it’s franchise. Both were also about Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix entity. And both were a sort of conclusion to their own timeline/universe (TLS for the first three movies, TDP for First Class onward). Which one is the worst will depend on who you talk to, but while looking around at reviews and the like, it seems like The Last Stand is the least hated of the two. Maybe still bad, but between it’s release and now, it seems more people prefer it over Dark Phoenix (excluding how The Last Stand may have done Scott dirty). It may still be the worst of the trilogy, but it’s also had time for the hate to settle, though not completely wane.
With that little thought process out of the way, onto my review. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Honestly not too much.
I have to agree that this is a pretty badly executed story. I may still be new to the X-Men comic, but I know a faulty story when I see it. For instance, Heroes in Crisis being another poorly received comic I’ve read. And much like Heroes in Crisis, I feel like it had a good idea conceptually, but a terrible execution.
I feel like the idea of introducing Nightcrawler’s father wasn’t a bad concept. (Disclaimer: at one point Mystique and Destiny were planned to be his parents, with Mystique acting as the father via shapeshifting. But due to it not being appropriate for the time, it didn’t end up happening). However, it’s reasonable for people to dislike how they handled it. Be it for what Azazel does for Kurt’s character, how the story handled it, or Chuck Austen’s shaky writing.
I’ll try not to dwell too long on the whole Azazel being his father, but it is a talking point. I know it wasn’t well received based on it giving the mob credence for wanting to destroy the “demon” (Kurt) because now he pretty much is one, or at least the mutant equivalent of one (like how Angel is the mutant equivalent of… well an angel). I’ve also seen the argument on how having Destiny and Mystique being his parents like originally planned would have been preferable (which is reasonable and would be more accepted today compared to the 80’s and 90’s).
For me, I like Azazel as his father, which may be an unpopular opinion. That said, I do respect why he’s a disliked character in some circles. However, with him being such a conflicting character, you may be wondering why I like him. Which is fair. Usually when a character is disliked be it for poor writing (Euron Grayjoy), a character readers are supposed to dislike (Joffrey Baratheon), what have you, it may seem odd when someone does.
The reason I like him is for some of the reasons he’s hated as well as a few other reasons. I think Nightcrawler being a “demon” (or the mutant equivalent) still makes him a great example of not judging someone based on their appearance. Just with an added layer of one not expecting a “demon” to be kind hearted and morally outstanding.
I also feel like it gives an added layer of irony to him. He was already being a “demon” Catholic and this kind of cements that.
Side Note: I feel like, had he been introduced by someone other than Chuck Austen, Azazel would have been better received and developed.
There’s also the fact I’m getting into X-Men comics now as opposed to years ago. So my perception may be different. I know it is a big deal for some (in a negative way) and that’s fine. I just view Azazel as a character a little differently.
My itty bitty positive aside (I can and will go further, jut not here), The Draco was a mess. The art is bad. I compare it to Dexter Soy (one of my favorite artists) but instead of being charming, its a terrible version of it.
While I give it the benefit of having a good concept, it’s the execution is bad. I haven’t read Chuck Austen’s other works, but I don’t think any of it could/would be worse than this.
Having read some reviews on it, I can agree that characters can feel odd/out of character (Mystique for me). I’ve also read a post discussing how it crossed the line of harmless fanservice into gross territory. Specifically with Kurt, why he unnecessarily ogled at by a character, and how it was unnecessary for him to be various degrees of exposed. I agree with the user. Fanservice in and of itself isn’t inherently bad, but there is that fine line between harmless fun and grossly unwarranted.
Do I think The Draco was worth a read? Yes. Is it good? No. Did it age well? It wasn’t even good enough to age well. Was anything good about it? Conceptually, something was there, just poorly executed, and me liking Azazel as a concept and character.
If you asked for a recommended read, be it of an X-Men title or Nightcrawler story, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would suggest reading it for the sake of a Nightcrawler story, but with the caveat that it is one of the most controversial X-Men stories. And while I like Azazel, I feel like he was done better in First Class (the movie) and Amazing X-Men (2013). Sure, he was unceremoniously killed in Days of Future Past in the former’s case (how one kills an immortal like Azazel is questioned by some people) and the latter lead to Kurt getting booted out of heaven for losing his soul because of Azazel, but Azazel was handled better when not in the hands of Chuck Austen.
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