Thursday, 7 April 2016

Amazing X-Men #5 - Marvel Comics

AMAZING X-MEN No. 5, May 2014
Rather well-written by Jason Aaron, this concluding instalment of “The Quest For Nightcrawler” must have surprised many of its 46,242 readers in March 2014 with its depressingly bleak finale. For whilst the narrative to Issue Five of “Amazing X-Men” initially proves farcical fun as the swashbuckling captain of “the warship Xavier” gleefully calls “all hands on deck… [to] repel boarders”, the “noble” teleporter’s ultimate unselfish sacrifice of his eternal spirit in order to sail “the seas in the land of the dead and save billions of souls” is genuinely haunting and brings the Alabama-born writer’s lengthy multi-book story-arc literally back down to Earth with a disconcerting bump.

Such is the quality of the American author’s penmanship however that this noticeable difference in the narrative’s tone from beginning to end, does not occur awkwardly, and instead transpires throughout this twenty-page periodical somewhat imperceptibly. In fact it seems that one moment Kurt Wagner is haughtily thwarting his father’s plans “to steal the souls residing in the Afterlife” with his colourfully-costumed team-mates, and the next, courtesy of a double splash sequence depicting the fuzzy blue elf exchanging cutlass thrusts with Azazel, the comic’s tone has increasingly darkened to the point where a previously smart-mouthed and humorous Wolverine suddenly appears to be on the verge of death; “Oh, God. You sure picked a hell of a time not to have a healing factor.”

For many this dangerous, sinisterly shifting mood to the storyline would provide drama enough but Aaron then builds upon the sombre atmosphere even further by galvanising a desperately distraught yet determined Nightcrawler into deciding that there is only one solution to his father’s insane plan, and, despite an angelic-looking Professor Xavier’s plea that “Archangels are on their way now”, Dave Cockrum's co-creation uses demonic blood magic to cut his red-skinned pater "off from his armies… [and] bind him to the Earth forever.”

So tragic a tale, and one which finishes with an ominously contemplative Kurt sat arms moodily folded atop the roof of the Jean Grey School, is wonderfully illustrated by Ed McGuinness. Indeed the artist somehow manages to appropriately incorporate both genuinely laugh-out-moment pencilled panels, such as Warbird’s backside being ogled by a blue bamf, as well as flashes of vengeful anger and emotional ferocity, like Wagner wrathfully out-fencing Aazael when he realises he’s “put my friends in danger”, all within the self-same ultimately seriously-themed comic book.
Writer: Jason Aaron, Penciler: Ed McGuiness and Inker: Dexter Vines

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