After the emotional detour brought about by the “Death of Wolverine,” “Nightcrawler” #8 sets Kurt Wagner on the trail of the Crimson Pirates once more. Writer Chris Claremont chooses to forge a relationship between Nightcrawler and the Crimson Pirate, Bloody Bess.
The relationship is a slender thread to construct a story around, but Claremont seems less concerned with girth and more concerned with forwarding connections and interactions. The caption boxes narrate only Nightcrawler’s thoughts, but the plethora of other characters permeating this issue borders on distraction. Yes, Claremont has made it quite clear that Nightcrawler is very much a part of the X-Men and relies on them for identity, but the title of the series is “Nightcrawler,” not “Nightcrawler and the X-Men” or “Nightcrawler Team-Up.” The latter has deep potential, especially considering the amount of guest stars Claremont and Nauck have included in eight issues so far.
Nauck’s art is animated and lively, as readers can expect. In a couple instances, however, it appears as though Nauck may have taken liberties with the script, as Nightcrawler and Bess confess some surprise at their actions, which are sudden and unnatural, skipping a beat or two in he storytelling. Yes, one of those scenes is certain to plug into the subplot Claremont is building between the two characters, but in the flow of the story, it just hits at an odd time. Aside from a scene in the Danger Room and panels aboard the X-Men’s aircraft, “Nightcrawler” #8 is set in a desert, at night, giving Nauck and Rosenberg plenty of space to collaborate and play. That hits the sweet spot for Nauck’s art, which is very playful, filled with energetic characters that excel in their own space. The big bad of the issue also works well to the talented teamwork of Nauck and Rosenberg, especially in a desolate locale.
I want to like “Nightcrawler,” I really do, but the hand-wringing and navel-gazing needs to take a back seat so Claremont and Nauck can add depth to the breadth of the surrounding cast of characters they are adding to Kurt Wagner’s life. “Nightcrawler” #8 spends less time doing that and too much time pushing the boundaries out while disregarding obvious concerns readers are sure to find in a story where telepaths are overpowered too easily. It’s time for Nightcrawler to be heroic, on his own terms and finding his own path. Right now, reacting and conforming to the actions of other characters limit both him and the series.