Death in comics books is nothing new. It is something we as readers have come to accept, and the fact is that these deaths are far from permanent. Nearly every high profile character in comics who has managed to die has also managed to be brought back to life at one point or another. The issue we as readers have is whether or not the stories that bring our favorite characters back are decent enough to even be believed. That is why I was both excited and concerned when I heard about the return of one certain fuzzy German elf. Amazing X-Men #1 marks the return of the fan favorite, the astounding, the amazing Nightcrawler!
While I myself am a big fan of Nightcrawler, and am more than happy to see him return, I had several major issues regarding the way they should handle his resurrection. Nightcrawler has always been known as a devout Catholic, the only one among the X-Men. His religious beliefs are a central aspect of his character and thus must be taken into account when “resurrecting” him. Nightcrawler was killed during the 2010 X-Men crossover event “Second Coming.” This event featured the introduction of a Mutant Messiah: the adoptive daughter of Cable, named Hope Summers. In this event, Nightcrawler sacrificed his life to ensure the safety and protection of Hope during a Sentinel attack.
His death was treated with much reverence by his fellow X-Men, and it proved to be a significant blow to the entire group’s morale. The team also made sure to conduct a Catholic funeral and rites in respect of his beliefs. When he died, many fans honestly hoped that he would stay dead, as the idea of him coming back from the afterlife seemed very much taboo and against what he would consider natural. However, all my fears regarding his resurrection, and how Marvel would treat this fan favorite character’s beliefs, were suddenly lifted as I turned through the pages of Amazing X-Men #1.
We begin the issue with a narrative caption regarding the life and death of Kurt Wagner, before we are brought to an otherworldly plain of peace and tranquility, revealing that Kurt has been residing in Heaven since his death during “Second Coming.” However, he is not at peace, as he feels his work on Earth has yet to be completed.
His “unfinished business” decides to show itself in the form of his father, the demon Azazel. He appears brandishing pirate garb and miniature demonic minions which look quite familiar if you have been reading Wolverine and the X-Men. Azazel has come to Heaven in hopes of overthrowing the natural order and taking complete control!
Back on Earth, the X-Men of the Jean Grey School are welcoming a new teacher, the mutant Avenger Firestar. Firestar seems rather intimidated by the scope and size of the school, along with the extremely fast paced environment she is thrust into. She meets up with professor McCoy, a.k.a. the Beast, and they discover a large group of Bamfs building a dimensional portal.
After a closer investigation by the rest of the faculty, Beast discovers that the Bamfs have been building this device since the first day they set foot in the school. Before the faculty has a chance to dismantle the machine, they are greeted by a group of RED Bamfs, who seem much less friendly. These Bamfs pull the X-Men through the portal, sending them to an unknown location, which the reader will recognize as Heaven, as seen earlier in the issue. What the reader will not recognize is the giant Hellish Pirate galleon sailing through the Heavenly skies.
This issue is fantastic! While it is light on the action, it does give us a rather satisfying battle between Nightcrawler and his estranged father. It sets up the character of Firestar very well, which is necessary due to her absence since the Marvel “Civil War.” Along with her set-up, we are also shown an obvious and hilarious love triangle between herself, Warbird, and Iceman. This issue kept my interest with every page, easily blowing my expectations out of the water, and throwing me for a loop with the involvement of Azazel. The depiction of Heaven is quite beautiful, and the artist does it much justice. I can honestly say, that if every issue is as exceptional as this issue, I shall be reading this X-title for a very long time to come.
-The return of NIGHTCRAWLER
-The return of FIRESTAR
-A very “Supernatural” style plot involving Heaven vs. Hell
-Funny as hell and eloquent writing