Way of X #1 review: The X-Men are immortal, and Nightcrawler is worried

In the X-Men comics, Nightcrawler is everybody’s friend. Because his intro in 1975’s Huge Size X-Men #1, he’s been among the most cherished characters in Marvel’s mutant pantheon, in big part due to the fact that he’s a mutant that’s gotten rid of incredible misfortune to end up being not simply comfy in his furry blue skin, however comfy at swashbuckling. Nightcrawler — likewise referred to as Kurt Wagner — is rushing, a personalized horndog with a strong ethical compass that originates from, of all locations, his Catholic faith.

However times are excellent now. After years of stories about persecution and catastrophe, the X-Men are lastly in a location where everybody can stop feeling tortured and get on Nightcrawler’s level.

Method of X is the book about the dark concerns of the brand-new mutant future, and why Nightcrawler can’t neglect them.

Who is making Method of X?

Method of X is composed by Simon Spurrier, among comics’ most amazingly respected and regularly pleasing authors. Most just recently understood for his well-known, gone-too-soon work on John Constantine: Hellblazer and the profane dream Coda, Spurrier has a propensity for character-centric worldbuilding. A Spurrier comic will never ever offer you a tradition dump when it can reveal you an intriguing individual who depends on no excellent rather. He’s likewise keen on informing stories that end — a little bit of a rarity in comics —and by the time you reach stated ending, a story seemingly about something ends up being about something else completely.

Magneto stands over a mutant killed in Krakoa’s crucible ritual in Way of X #1, Marvel Comics (2021)

Image: Bob Quinn/Marvel

Artist Bob Quinn is fairly fresh to the superhero scene, having actually invested his early profession working with Dynamite Comics’ lineup of pulp characters like The Lone Ranger and Red Sonja prior to crossing over to Marvel. Method of X sees Quinn operating in a dark, however friendly design, with vibrant characters never ever completely illustrated in light. It’s an excellent suitable for a story about the shadows on the edge of paradise, and colorist Java Tartaglia keeps the color combination soft so to make whatever appear simply a bit upsetting.

What is Method of X about?

Is something incorrect if it doesn’t injure anybody? What does morality appear like when your a lot of standard requirements aren’t simply looked after, however generously so? The book starts with young mutants deliberately getting themselves eliminated while out on field objective, safe in the understanding that, in the present X-Men status quo, they’ll be reanimated. Nightcrawler is bothered by this, and the very first huge concern Method of X asks is: Is he right? Or just old-fashioned, applying human ideas of morality to a brave new mutant world?

Way of X is a book about someone who’s lived through enough hard times to be suspicious of the good ones, and a mystery about how we always invent our own boogeymen to haunt us.

Why is Way of X happening now?

Nightcrawler overlooks the Hatchery, where mutants are resurrected in Way of X #1, Marvel Comics (2021)

Image: Bob Quinn/Marvel

The Reign of X has ushered in an era of mutant maximalism. The mutants of Krakoa are expanding their horizons and dreaming bigger. S.W.O.R.D. is a comic taking them to space, the forthcoming X-Corp will show them taking seats in the world’s boardrooms, and in the background, plans are being made for a Hellfire Gala that will dazzle the fashionistas of the world.

Marvel’s mutant world has been steadily growing in exciting new directions for two years now, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and optic blasts. Throughout the Krakoan era, troubling story threads have been quietly dangling from the very start, and Way of X is the very first book where the primary mission is to tug at them.

It’s easy to assume that Way of X takes that expansion into the spiritual/metaphysical realm by exploring the formation of a mutant religion, but the book itself quickly distances itself from that idea. Instead, it’s interested in identifying the problems that religions try to solve, and the things that might emerge in the absence of one. In picking at these scabs, Way of X dives into the darker and weirder side of the Krakoan age, as the promise of resurrection gives mutants a new perspective on death and license to try things they wouldn’t otherwise.

It also means that its protagonist, Nightcrawler, must start asking questions that may lead him to discover that his young nation might already have disturbing secrets.

Is there any required reading?

Kind of. Like most current X-Men comics, reading the dual miniseries House of X/Powers of X is necessary to understand the new status quo, with a new mutant nation established on the sentient island of Krakoa. That’s also where you’ll learn about how mutants have gained the power to resurrect one another and rendered death obsolete. So they’re pretty vital.

Beyond that? X-Men #7 is a standalone comic that poses the concern Method of X sets out to answer. Consider it a prelude to this story, the beginning of the unrest that Nightcrawler feels deep down about something

Finally — and this is completely optional — but Simon Spurrier does have a history with the X-Men, and it’s brief enough to knock out over a long weekend. His 2014 run on X-Force with Rock-He Kim and others is an underrated exploration of trauma and mortality, dealing with a black ops team lead by Cable at a time when his superpowers were killing him daily, forcing him to clone himself and jump to a brand-new body constantly. It’s a good companion to a story that’s going to examine the implications of resurrection.

Similarly, Spurrier’s run on X-Men: Legacy, primarily with artist Tan Eng Huat, is a character study of David Haller, the mutant known as Legion whose limitless powers manifest as an array of alternate personalities vying for control over his body. Taking place in the wake of the death of Haller’s distant father, Charles Xavier himself (long story) it’s a book that asks questions about how the X-Men do things, and doesn’t necessarily think of them in the best light. Which might be worth thinking about as you go into Method of X.

Is Way of X good?

Yes. Essential, even.

Way of X #1 is a meaty 42-page comic that does a lot of work, and all of it well. Bob Quinn’s art is full of inky figures in bright contexts doing upsetting things like willfully getting themselves killed, in a way that’s definitely troubling but never grotesque or exploitative. Above all, it’s an art style that’s thoughtful — if Way of X sounds like a talky book, that’s because it is, but there’s also plenty of action, and that action takes on an equally contemplative air with dense page layouts and panel compositions that range from uncomfortably close to chillingly distant.

Pixie taunts a man with a shotgun in Way of X #1, Marvel Comics (2021)

Image: Bob Quinn/Marvel

But like I’ve already suggested, this is a book that’s openly about confronting uncomfortable things that are ignored in the name of progress, about asking questions that pragmatism says we shouldn’t bother asking. Who cares if mutants have souls if all they have to do is get in a line for resurrection? To most of his peers, Kurt Wagner is a spoilsport looking for the rot in paradise, but to the readers, he’s onto something. Followers of the X-books have known Krakoa has come at a cost, and certain moral judgment calls with upsetting implications have been made in secret.

Way of X is satisfying because it looks like it’s out to confront both its characters and its readers with the fallout of these uncomfortable truths — like why precognitive mutants are not being resurrected, or what happens when somebody like Charles Xavier recedes from the people he is helping to lead, and someone like Magneto decides to take his place among them.

It’s all deft, dense storytelling that gets my wheels spinning the way House of X/Powers of X did, because while watching people build a nation is arresting stuff, watching people figure out how to live in it is the sort of thing that will keep me coming month after month.

One panel that popped

Doctor Nemesis is a relatively obscure mutant who’s kind of an evil genius. Spurrier seems fond of the guy, since he appeared during his run on X-Force, but he’s a bit different here. Finding out how different is a freaking trip.

Dr. Nemesis shows off the mind-expanding mushrooms growing out of his skill in Way of X #1, Marvel Comics (2021)

Image: Bob Quinn/Marvel

Get it? Trip? Because mushrooms?

Anyway if you were worried Method of X was going to have to do with church….it’s not.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.