“Nightcrawler” #3 is a book with two different parts, which makes it a frustrating issue. There’s a portion of the comic that is great, and another portion that falls completely flat. Chris Claremont and Todd Nauck’s attempts to make these halves work together, alas, feel anything but seamless.
The part of “Nightcrawler” #3 that works well is Nightcrawler’s interactions with both the X-Men and his family of Margali Svardos and Amanda Sefton. Everything that’s fun and interesting about “Nightcrawler” can be traced to these portions. From the idea that Rachel’s been keeping tabs on her old teammate Kurt, to the end result of Margali being in the home of the X-Men, it’s fun. This is what Claremont excels in as a writer, working on the relations between the characters and driving the story based on their personality clashes.
Compare that, then, to the sequences with Trimega. Claremont’s villains over the years have gotten less interesting, and Trimega is a perfect example. A robot? A triplicating robot? Something else entirely? There’s no discernable personality for Trimega, and no matter how many Trimegas appear, they don’t engage. They’re little more than a weapon, devoid of anything special. Add in the opening pages with the circus folk (who also feel so horribly generic that I hope that Claremont inherited them, even as I fear that they’re also original creations) and it’s a sequence that is forcefully dragging the quality of this book down.
There is one thing that’s consistent in “Nightcrawler” #3, and that’s Nauck’s art. While the youthful nature of Nauck’s art makes everyone feel a little younger than you might expect (although that could be in part thanks to his association with the “Young Justice” series back in the day), it’s good looking and tells a story well. He’s at his best when drawing Margali’s attack against Storm and Beast; giving Nauck something out of the ordinary to do, he makes not only the swirling papers but the end result captivating and even slightly creepy. (As an great bonus, using old comic covers for the images on them — I caught “Uncanny X-Men” #170, 186, and 201, “New X-Men” #117, and “X-Factor” #26 and 33 — is a fun little nod to long-time readers.)
Past attempts for a “Nightcrawler” ongoing series went nowhere fast, which is surprising considering how beloved the character is. Hopefully this time will work out differently — but if so, Claremont and Nauck would be wise to stick with the connections with the X-Men and family, and less on uninspiring new creations. There’s already such a wealth of characters out there that Claremont could mine them for decades. If the best we can get for original creations are Trimega or Gummi, I can’t imagine the book sticking around for too long.