|AMAZING X-MEN No. 3, March 2014|
Featuring a simply stunning Ed McGuinness close-up cover of Hank McCoy, angrily snarling so ferociously that one can almost feel upon the face the spittle escaping from his roar, Issue Three of “Amazing X-Men” probably had those of its 51,431 readers who didn’t like the blue furry world-renowned biochemist wondering as to whether they were going to enjoy this third instalment of “The Quest For Nightcrawler” or not. For having so dominated the magazine’s front illustration it comes as no surprise that Jason Aaron’s narrative spends its entire first half depicting Azazel’s battle with the “would-be stowaway” on board the red-skinned demon’s ship as she sails “far beyond the realm of the flesh. Upon the great frozen sea of oblivion.”
Fortunately any bibliophile with an acute allergy to George Buza’s voicing of the Beast in Genesis Entertainment’s 1992-1997 “X-Men” animated television series should still have enjoyed the Alabama-born writer’s swashbuckling tale, as it is absolutely packed full of just the sort of piratical high adventure that one would expect to find in an old Errol Flynn motion picture. Beginning with the founding X-Man’s swordfight with Nightcrawler’s father amidst the vessel’s entangling rigging, the American author’s pacing is almost non-stop, and only finds the time for a small reflective piece on Kurt Wagner’s past closeness to Ororo as younger, more innocent X-Men, once “Doctor McCoy” has been dispatched overboard courtesy of a cowardly cutlass in his back; “I’m the new Devil as well. Heh. Agnostic overboard.”
Capturing and convincingly conveying such fencing flurries upon the heaving decks is the sublime artwork of Ed McGuinness, inker Dexter Vines and colorist Marte Gracia. The “blue gorilla” gracefully leaping and cartwheeling from mast to mast has arguably never looked better, even when drawn by “Avengers” luminary George Perez, and the American penciller’s idea of having the mutant adorned with a pair of engineering googles worn tightly drawn above his yellow eyes proves a particularly endearing touch.
Indeed the only fault to be found with this particular comic is the New York-based publisher’s bizarre decision to include a half-page advertisement for “Iron Man” Annual One mid-way through the climactic confrontation between Storm, Nightcrawler and Captain Billy the Kid? The flier’s artwork of the Golden Avenger, somewhat reminiscent of a Steve Ditko illustration but one on a terribly bad day, jars horribly with the clean, sleek, almost cartoonish look of McGuiness’ modern-day renderings beside it and as a result disconcertingly breaks any spell the series of preceding panels previously created.
|Writer: Jason Aaron, Penciler: Ed McGuinness, and Inker: Dexter Vines|