“The Quest for Nightcrawler” concludes in “Amazing X-Men” #5, written by Jason Aaron with art by Ed McGuinness. Like a spectacular fireworks celebration, this issue offers lots of fantastic visuals, but when the back cover is closed, the story itself begins to fade.
While there was little doubt that a story titled “The Quest for Nightcrawler” would end with Kurt Wagner back in the land of the living, Aaron does bring forth a satisfying conclusion that leaves Nightcrawler in a spot most characters haven’t been in before. Many would be content to return from death, but Aaron makes it quite clear that Nightcrawler is going to spend some time and energy contemplating the afterlife he left behind. It’s an interesting philosophical switch up, but it deflates a portion of “Amazing X-Men” #5: the action and adventure present in the battle between the X-Men and Azazel’s forces. While it more closely represents a battle from one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films than a skirmish championed by super-powered mutants, the fight is full of energy and action; things X-Men comics can never contain enough of. Aaron seeks to level the action with characterization and mostly hits home, but does so in a manner that leaves me wanting more action.
Very few artists pack panels and pages with cinematic-worthy visuals like Ed McGuinness, and he is at his very finest here. There are moments of pure drama, elevated and electrified by his choices of camera angle and animated, yet meticulous detail and there are scenes packed with pizzazz and excitement, like Nightcrawler bamfing his way across the deck of the Warship Xavier to take the fight to Azazel. McGuinness brings the cute and the bizarre in a rumble between the red and blue Bamfs, throws Firestar’s hair into a killer braid and depicts a stunning range of emotions on Nightcrawler’s face in “Amazing X-Men” #5. With solid inks from Dexter Vines, bombastic coloring from Marte Gracia and masterful lettering from Joe Caramagna, the visuals in “Amazing X-Men” #5 are easily worth the price of admission. The visuals that steal the show and make this comic truly enjoyable and downright fun.
While the details of the story might not be the most memorable, there is simply no denying “Amazing X-Men” #5 tries to reinstall fun into the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe by reminding readers just what has been missing since Nightcrawler left. Aaron tempers the fun with introspection and gives readers a comic worth revisiting. This could be construed as anti-climatic, but it brings the X-Men back to a more complete place and wonderfully sets up Nightcrawler for a journey of self.