After recently returning to the realm of the living, Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler is readjusting to a life amongst the mortal. After quickly reuniting with his childhood love Amanda Sefton, the two whisk off to the small German town of Winzeldorf where the they also quickly become embroiled in the problems of their old circus troupe while tracking their adversary Trimega.
Chris Claremont is easily the most renown X-Men writer ever to have penned the adventures of one of Marvel Comics' biggest franchises. In fact, The X-Men are one of Marvel Comcis' biggest franchises because of Chris Claremont (with some help from John Byrne). Just about every X-Men story that has been written since Claremont ended his run on Uncanny X-Men bears the influence of Claremont. The X-Men cartoons and movies bear Claremont's influence as well. The inspiration for the current hit film X-Men: Days of Future Pastcame directly from Claremont's X-Men comic book story of the same name. So, whenever Claremont returns to writing an X-Book, especially an in-continuity one, long term X-Men readers and fans take notice. After all the stories that Claremont wrote during his nearly two decade run on X-Men comic books, does he have anything else new to contribute to the franchise? By taking on the adventures of one X-character instead of a team of X-characters this time around, we Claremont fans certainly hope so.
Issue #1 of Nightcrawler certainly had a few surreal moments as Claremont revisited, albeit briefly, some of his own previous X-Men plots while Nightcrawler wondered the halls of the new Jean Grey School. He quickly reunited Kurt with Rachel Grey (another one time Phoenix and member of Kurt's Excalibur team of X-Men some years ago), then shunted him headlong into a reuniting with Amanda Sefton, which quickly lead to the above referred to adventure in Winzeldorf with their former circus buddies in issue #2. While this might seem to be a bit of a boring first few issues, and by default it has to be to long term readers because Claremont must introduce Kurt/Nightcrawler to a new audience, Claremont manages to keep the pace lively and smart. Instead of giving us a rehash over the course of a few pages of Nightcrawler's history with the X-Men (although he does dangerously teeter close to doing so), Claremont uses his well honed storytelling skills to mix in the history with the current events. This makes for a read that, while somewhat obligatorily expository, isn't completely stale. This approach gives us readers hope that Claremont will indeed have something new to contribute to the X-mythos after re-establishing Kurt in the contemporary Marvel U.
Series artist Todd Nauck brings Claremont's script to life sharply with just the necessary tinge of cartoonishness that Nightcrawler's swashbuckling style inspires. He also brings Nightcrawler's formidable acrobatics to a well choreographed life. Every once in a while his character's facial expressions border on outright cartoonishness, the overall look of the book never fully devolves into silliness.
Overall, Nightcrawler looks to be a worthy read focused solely on this beloved character. It's been a while since X-Fans have had the pleasure of reading new Nightcrawler exploits AND Claremont X-Men stories, so enjoy Nightcrawler while it lasts.