In a week full of brilliant fight scenes in Marvel comics, an issue that’s almost nothing but decent fight scenes is … kind of forgettable. So it’s not entirely Jason Aaron’s fault that this issue feels mediocre, just mostly. If you want to read a good Jason Aaron book this week, check out Thor: God of Thunder 17. This is … meh.
Amazing X-Men 3 focuses almost exclusively on Beast, Storm and Nightcrawler. Beast duels with Azazel for the first half of the issue, and Nightcrawler and Storm fight a bunch of pirates together in the other half. If you ignore this week’s better fight scenes, this issue is enjoyable enough on that front. The banter between Storm and Nightcrawler is fun. It’s almost as if he never left, and that’s a good thing. The flashback with the two characters is a highlight, glimpsing further into their long friendship. The hinting at a potential romance feels weird though. Beast’s fight is also kind of fun, at least once he starts using science to his advantage. His dialogue fits perfectly.
Where this comic suffers is the total lack of story development. Everything Azazel explains could have been figured out from the start of the first issue. He’s trying to take over every realm of the afterlife, using a bunch of evil people from history as his pirate servants. Nightcrawler is trying to stop him. It’s not hard to figure out. Unless there are some major twists in the next two issues, the story could have easily been finished by now with tighter writing. And of course, involving Azazel in any kind of Nightcrawler centered story is bound to anger a lot of fans. I’ve intentionally avoided the Draco arc and I’m annoyed with his inclusion.
While the writing is just ok, the art is good and fits the comic’s mood very well. The cartoony feel may turn off some people, but it’s bright and colourful. Azazel’s crew all have interesting designs, and when Beast does go bezerk (in the last few pages of course), he looks downright frightening. The only real problem is that there’s a brief reference to Caligula. Caligula is probably the most notoriously cruel emperor in the Roman Empire’s history, yet on page this Caligula looks more like an 18th century Englishman. This could have easily been fixed with a brief name change.
This series has the potential to be great. Jason Aaron can be great in the right kind of comic, and this is much closer to his specialty than Wolverine and the X-Men has been lately. But despite being an issue-long fight scene, not a whole lot happens in this. If this series improves, then great. If not, at least we’ll get Chris Claremont’s Nightcrawler ongoing that was announced about an hour ago. I wanted to enjoy and recommend this comic, but it’s not quite good enough.