Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Alan Davis and Carlos Lopez
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Jonathan Hickman’s Giant-Size X-Men books have been a fun way to tell stories that might feel like an odd diversion in any of the current main titles while also highlighting character dynamics that those other titles haven’t been able to dig in to. Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 fits firmly into that mold, and seminal artist Alan Davis returns to draw the blue elf that he made so much of his X-career on. And as a story, this one works just fine. It’s a fairly straightforward haunted house type of story, but what Hickman does best is bring more of the X-Men’s world to life. If you ever wondered what happened to Charles Xavier’s mansion once all the mutants went to Krakoa, now you have you answer.
Hickman assembles a funny little team here: Nightcrawler, Magik, Lockheed, Doug Ramsey, and Eye-Boy for a little reconnaissance mission to find out what’s going on with the Krakoan gate near the mansion. A few “ghosts” from the X-Men’s past pop up to confuse our heroes, before Doug’s power allows them to defuse an old foe first seen in Uncanny X-Men #154. As I mentioned earlier, it feels like a pretty stock haunted house story - the team enters, they see weird stuff that reveals itself to be something else, and a battle ensues before the problem is eventually solved. But it is nice to see Hickman working with characters like Cypher and Eye-Boy - despite the title on the cover, this feels very much like an extension of his work with New Mutants. That’s not to say Nightcrawler doesn’t get his due, but some of the characters used here do feel interchangeable.
That said, Alan Davis makes sure that Nightcrawler is front and center throughout the title. Davis’ approach puts an emphasis on strong narrative storytelling, and his instincts are perfect. That’s to be expected from a veteran of the industry, especially one as well-regarded as Davis, but there are simple techniques that he utilizes to add tension to the script. All of his panels are angled in some way, communicating a certain quickness to panels that are skinnier than others, while the zig-zag nature of a page with more evenly sized, angled panels leads a reader's eye comfortably. And of course, his character work is as solid as ever, but the double-page spread fight scene of Nightcrawler and company fighting off a horde of baddies is a great reminder that Davis is as good as ever.
Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 is not going to blow you away by any stretch, but it allows Hickman to tell a story to put some interesting new elements into play. It’s impossible to know how these elements will play into upcoming X-stories, but Hickman tends to do everything for a reason. Alan Davis remains one of the best to ever do it, and it’s great to see him reunited with Nightcrawler and Lockheed here. If you’re looking for a breezy, entertaining read, Giant Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 has you covered.