Tag Archives: Uncanny XMen

An Introspective in Controversy: Uncanny X-Men The Draco

As I continue to look into Kurt Wagner reads, I thought I would take a moment to do a little discussion. An introspective if you will. I have recently read and reviewed The Draco, and thought I would do a tie in introspective.

Why, you might ask, because tangents I had (that didn’t ended up making it into my review), felt like they deserved their own discussion. So while I continue on with book reviews and recommendations, I am working out two other posts that were too off topic for my The Draco: Review along with this introspective. One will look at Nightcrawler’s family, and another, discussing Azazel and why I think he could be a good character outside of The Draco.

Today, however, I bring you an introspective. I’ve broken this down into two parts: Why it’s controversial and my unpopular opinion, and I will conclude with a summary of my thoughts on it and if it “aged well”. For my full review, you can find it here: https://the-little-library.org/2021/11/24/uncanny-x-men-the-draco-review/

With that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Why the Controversy?

The Draco would go down in X-Men history, but not for a good reason. If I was talking strictly based on the story itself, a lot of issues come from it. As one of the worst X-Men stories or one of the most contentious Nightcrawler stories.

Now this (along side other issues in the Trial of Juggernaut volume) is the only comic by Chuck Austen I think I’ve read. So I can’t personally say whether or not any of his other works in Marvel (or DC) were better or worse. Though I can say that it was pretty poorly executed (more on that later). What I do know is that this was the story that lead to the end of Chuck Austen’s career with Marvel and DC.

While researching The Draco for thoughts, opinions, and such, I have come across a few different points for not liking this story or elements in it. This was a story that, not only would be what Chuck Austen would go down for, but also lead to a career ending stint with Marvel and DC.

Artistically Unattractive and Poor Storytelling

Getting the technical side of it out of the way, yes the story isn’t great and the art is shaky. If that was the only problem, I don’t think it would have became as infamous, but it’s still worth noting. When I read it, the art kind of reminded me of Dextor Soy, one of my favorite DC artists, who worked on Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016),but not as good. That may sound like a weird comparison, but it was the closest I could think of with the art.

And while bad art can bring down a good story in the case of The Draco, the story is not much better. I may be giving it too much credit when I say that there was a good concept there, but how it was executed was terrible. That much I do agree on, and I also agree that certain characters felt out of character.

I have also seen the case made (and reasonably so) on how certain scenes in this cross the line of harmless fanservice to going too far.

Azazel Being Kurt’s Father

Part of it comes down to what Azazel, the walking, talking demon of a mutant, does for the character he took part in creating. Now, Kurt is already kind of a walking, talking irony being a Catholic “Demon”, but for almost 30 years, it was only a physical irony and not a literal one. Kurt’s whole schtick is that he looks like a monster but has a heart of gold (as opposed to say Wolverine who looks human, but internally would be considered a monster). As well as, or alternatively, an example of not judging a book by it’s cover.

With Azazel being his dad and essentially the mutant equivalent to a demon/devil, fans felt like this gave the mob the right to go after this demon (Kurt) in their town. And it could feel counter intuitive of X-Men’s original message against discrimination. (X-Men was created in ’63 and one of the big things X-Men is symbolic of is the Civil Rights Movement).

My Unpopular Opinion

I may be in the minority when I say that I like Azazel (I’m sure there are others who do as well). That doesn’t mean I will discredit the criticisms with the character, as I respectfully understand why they are there.

I can certainly see how what Azazel is can dent X-Men’s overall moral/symbolism, however, I feel he adds to what Nightcrawler symbolizes. I feel he still proves that looks can be deceiving. And with both parents being considered evil, I feel like it adds an angle of evil not always breeding evil to the mix.

It’s worth noting that I am new to the comics for Marvel and X-Men as a whole. And having only recently gotten into the X-Men comics (thanks to Nightcrawler), I may be viewing Azazel as a character at a slightly different angle. Heck, The Draco wasn’t even my first introduction to the character.

The Draco was on a blog listing Nightcrawler centered stories, when I started looking for recommendations. It did have a disclaimer for how it was bad/poorly received, but it was still focused on him.

As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t the first Azazel present story I read, Amazing X-Men and First Class were. I could have still hated him, sure, but I don’t.

Maybe I’m optimistic when I say he has potential in the right hands. Or maybe my introduction to him through other (non Chuck Austen) comics gave me the chance to view the character differently. Maybe both. And maybe in an attempt to find one good thing in The Draco, I took his other appearances as a reason as that one positive thing.

Readers have a reason to dislike him and I respect that. I merely see a character with potential and would have been better off not introduced by Chuck Austen.

What do I Think of The Draco? Did it Age Well?

I am in the majority when it comes to this story. It’s terrible. It’s poorly written. Poorly executed. It has bad artwork (which if you’ve noticed, I only used once cover twice in this entire discussion). And while I may defend Azazel to a degree, I can see why people would dislike the character.

As far as aging, it has not. It isn’t like Twilight, were it was a hit back from 2005-2012, but aged horribly. Nor is it like Lord of the Rings or Howl’s Moving Castle, which time has gifted with aging well.

The Draco wasn’t going to age well, but it wasn’t going to age poorly either. Being detested from the get go, the only thing time could do, was make it worse. And even if, someone read this and thought the hate was overblown, I doubt they would say it’s good.

In short, this story took what could have been a good concept, but executed it poorly and didn’t age for the better.

Uncanny X-Men The Draco: Review

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.

My Review

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.

In Conclusion

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.