As with the rest of the “First Class” titles, this title is couched somewhere between issues that many readers frequently wax nostalgic about. Based on the fact that this is a #1 set to introduce new readers to some older characters, I’m not going to spend too much time dwelling on the “when” of this issue. This issue gives the reader the now-classic X-Men lineup of Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Banshee, and Colossus — fan favorites all. Except this is a comic flying under the “First Class” banner, and as such should be delivered as a first glimpse into the lives of these characters. This title doesn’t do that, save for what is shared in the Danger Room and through the conversations between the characters.
This issue also introduces the reader to the Inhumans and presents Nightcrawler with an opportunity to witness the Terrigen Mist in action. The Terrigen effect is explained, and the Inhumans receive caption boxes delivering a brief explanation of their identities and abilities. The inconsistencies in character treatment are disruptive. Sure, this is the first issue of eight and the Inhumans aren’t sharing the title, but it would have been beneficial to the potential new readers to properly address the characters and abilities. Believe it or not, someone out there is going to encounter Storm for the first time this issue and will only know she controls snow and lightning.
That mini rant aside, this title is a fine introduction to Nightcrawler, covering everything from his first encounter with Xavier (and his life before that) to his use of the image inducer. Through Nightcrawler, Scott Gray delivers a story of being an outsider, and truly, Nightcrawler is no stranger by the end of this issue. Not only that, but Gray makes a very strong case for Nightcrawler to act the way he does when he witnesses the outcome of Terrigen upon the Inhumans. Gray has a handle on most of the characters, offering a wink and a nod to those readers picking this title up for sentimental reasons. I am hopeful that the subsequent issues will reveal as much or more about the rest of the X-Men.
Cruz’s art is well suited for this story. His characters maintain their appearance and are quite expressive in body language as well as facial features. Quicksilver is condescending and aloof, Crystal timid and genuine. Wolverine is as he was when this era was first being shared with fans through the pencil of Dave Cockrum or even John Byrne. Cruz is given no shortage of subject matter to draw in this issue — ranging from Xavier’s School to Attilan — and he handles the task admirably. The most distracting element of the visuals in this book is the unnecessary white highlight dots on everything, and I mean everything. Nightcrawler’s uniform appears to be latex, as does Medusa’s hair and Cyclops’ uniform. I understand the intent, but the execution is in need of refinement.
As first issues of all-ages type books go, this one is chock full of Marvel Universe goodness. I understand why Marvel chose the team at this era — as “Wolverine: First Class” follows the team during the early days of Kitty Pryde’s tenure as an X-Man — but I would have liked to have seen Thunderbird and Sunfire included for personal sentimental reasons. My eleven-year-old holds a passing familiarity with several members of this cast and is eagerly waiting to read this once her slowpoke dad finally finishes reviewing it.