This is Jason Aaron’s last X-Men book in the foreseeable future, and while I initially enjoyed Wolverine and the X-Men, I say “finally”. He’s done some good work with Wolverine, but his characterization of the X-Men is all over the place. It doesn’t help that he tends to overuse unpopular and/or polarizing characters – remember the hellfire kids? This issue is, well … not the worst X-Men comic he’s written. Be warned, there will be more spoilers and tangents than most of my reviews.
After a storyline involving Nightcrawler’s return that had both good moments and bad, the X-Men are celebrating their friend’s homecoming. If the entire comic was this party, it would have been have been a fine end to his X-Men run. The moment where Nightcrawler temporarily forgives Cyclops feels right, even though Nightcrawler will have words with Cyclops later. (After all, not only did Cyclops kill Xavier, but he was partially responsible for Nightcrawler’s death. He also wasn’t too happy about Cyclops commanding X-Force either). One thing Jason Aaron writes well is the friendship between Wolverine and Nightcrawler – just read his run on Wolverine: Weapon X for proof. Too bad the party only takes up five and a half pages.
The rest of the comic is a family reunion between Nightcrawler, Mystique and Azazel (sarcastic yay). Mystique is in her mindless rampage mode, typical of Aaron’s handling of her. She’s chasing after Azazel’s prison van, while Azazel himself is using his red bamfs to escape. After they meet, Mystique offers him a job after threatening to kill him. What?
The little interaction Nightcrawler has with Mystique works. It strikes a good balance between hostility and Kurt’s mercy. It’s also neat how he recognized her much faster than Wolverine did (now that she can mask her scent). It’s odd that Wolvie wouldn’t be able to hear them talking though, even with a party going on.
The art is … ok. There’s nothing fancy about it, there isn’t too much detail, but it works. It’s never hard to tell what’s going on, and facial expressions are handled well enough.
As I close the comic, my first thought is “I hope Azazel doesn’t show up in Brian Michael Bendis’s X-Men comics. He’s been mostly ignoring Wolverine and the X-men since his X-Men work has begun, and that’s worked in its favour. In fact, it would be better if Azazel is ignored forever. The sooner everything from Chuck Austin’s X-Men run is forgotten, the better. That said, Azazel was the only thing I remembered from my first reading since the rest is unremarkable.
It’s not a bad comic, but you’ll dislike it if you hate Azazel. And even if you don’t, Chris Claremont’s Nightcrawler 1 is a better welcome home issue than this one. If you only read one of these comics, read Nightcrawler 1. If you’ve enjoyed Jason Aaron’s entire catalogue of X-Men writing, you’re the only kind of person I’d recommend Amazing X-Men 6 to.