THE WAY OF X #1/ Script by SI SPURRIER/ Pencils and Inks by BOB QUINN/ Color Art by JAVA TARTAGLIA/ Letters by VC’S CLAYTON COWLES/ Design by TOM MULLER/ Cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & MARTE GRACIA/ Variant Covers by TERRY DODSON, RACHEL DODSON, TOM MULLER, FEDERICO VICENTINI, ERICK ARCINIEGA & SKOTTIE YOUNG/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
What makes life worth living when death is meaningless?
Why worry about the afterlife when you will never die?
What value has a priest in Paradise?
These questions haunt Kurt Wagner (aka Nightcrawler) and leave him despondent at a time when most of the Mutant race is content, if not outright happy. With the sentient Island of Krakoa having remade itself into a haven for Mutants inaccessible to the rest of the world and the gift of continual resurrection having been discovered, Nightcrawler fears for the souls of his friends and his people. Most of the residents of Krakoa think he’s unwilling to accept a good thing, but Kurt can’t shake the feeling that there is a serpent in their Eden. He also can’t help but wonder about the stories the young mutants tell of a Patchwork Man who haunts their dreams…
My antipathy for X-Men comics is well-known to regular Kaboooom readers. I only gave The Way of X a read for two reasons; it was written by Si Spurrier (whose all-too-brief run on Hellblazer I loved) and it was centered around NIghtcrawler, who is my favorite X-Man. Imagine my disappointment to discover that this Nightcrawler was not the fun, wise-cracking swashbuckler I liked but the brooding aspiring priest of more recent X-Men adaptations. Then imagine my surprise to discover that I liked this comic in spite of that.
I’m not sure how intentional it was, but I believe Si Spurrier hit upon part of why the vast majority of X-Men comics have left me cold with Kurt’s conundrum in this issue. I disliked many of the X-Men comics I read because I saw them as repetitive, retelling the same stories over and over with slight variations on the same themes. Death was largely meaningless and characters who died rarely stayed dead and heroes could become villains and vice versa with disturbing ease. I’m not sure how intentional this was on Spurrier’s part but Kurt’s musing upon the questions of life, death and morality in the midst of teenage mutants talking about their first time dying as if it were their first time having sex could be taken as a commentary upon the whole of the X-Men saga; what is the point of it all if death has no consequences?
Metacommentary aside, Spurrier’s script acts as a wonderful introduction to the current status quo on Krakoa and is as full of dark humor as his Hellblazer scripts. I also like how he balances both interpretations of Nightcrawler and reconciles them. This gives Kurt another sympathetic touchstone for the reader, as he finds himself being misunderstood with his jokes being taken as serious commentary and his serious musings being dismissed as Kurt being silly.
The artwork by Bob Quinn is intricate without being overcomplicated. The interplay of light and shadow in each panel is particularly excellent and, in another subtle touch, Nightcrawler always seems to be partly obscured by the shadows, even when everything around him is light. Color artist Java Tartagila’s palettes do a fantastic job of further emphasizing that contrast, with cool blues and bright oranges contrasting throughout.
The Way of X is a surprising and powerful comic. It tackles big philosophical issues regarding its world and ours, even as it introduces new readers into the modern X-Men setting without fear or apology. With solid artwork and thoughtful writing, this is one to keep an eye on.