When the X-Men split into two teams led separately by Cyclops and Wolverine, it was my jumping on point to read the main books starring each side. Unlike Cyclops' "Uncanny X-Men", I was consistently entertained reading "Wolverine and the X-Men". While "Uncanny" was hit and miss with story that ranged from okay to boring, the school setting of Wolverine's team, with both the faculty and students, brought about a lot of fun. While I can usually handle serious storylines, "Wolverine and the X-Men" brought back an old school feeling in a way. It was set in a school and we got to see how the future of the team was being groomed by veteran characters, many of whom were fan favorites like Beast, Iceman, and Kitty Pryde. "Uncanny", while serious, just didn't hold my interest. But honestly, I have to give credit to my allegiance to Team Wolverine to the book's writer, Jason Aaron. So when I found out that his run on the title was ending and a new creative team would be taking over, I was a little lost. But at the same time, Aaron had already launched another X-Men book starting Wolverine's team, "Amazing X-Men." So I figured if I was going to add a new X-book to my reading habits, it would be by someone I know I would enjoy. I also decided to trade-wait for the new series, partly because it would save me money on my monthly pulllist. So without further ado, let's jump right in.
The first issue does a good job of setting up the tone of the series. After a prologue of Nightcrawler in heaven, we are introduced to Firestar, who many would recognize from the "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" cartoon, as she is joining the Jean Grey School's academy. As she enters the school, she's introduced to many aspects of the school that were testaments to Aaron's other book, such as surprise Danger Room exams, surprised by the kinds of students there are, the busy life of the faculty that include conversations you would never expect at a normal school, and of course, the little BAMFS, which are basically chibi versions of Nightcrawler, who have a taste for both chaos and whiskey, which they constantly steal from Wolverine. Through Firestar's introduction, new readers get an idea of what they're in for with this book. Not only that, but there seems to be a hint at a potential relationship between her and Iceman. Considering they were co-stars on the Spider-Man cartoon, it's a nice nod. Besides that, after Kitty selfishly left Wolverine's team to join Cyclops', Firestar would be a good fit for Bobby.
Of course as the title points out, Nightcrawler is the main focus of the book's first story. Years earlier, Nightcrawler had been killed during the "Second Coming" story arc, and has since resided in Heaven. At some point, Nightcrawler's father, Azazel, the demon many people would recognize from his appearance in the "X-Men: First Class" film, attacks Heaven, as part of a plan to steal souls and take over both Heaven and Hell, and even recruited evil souls hinted to be Billy the Kid and Jack the Ripper. To help stop his father, Nightcrawler is able to use recruit his former teammates and bring them to the afterlife, and leads them as only he could.
A good way this book has been described is that it's more about the characters than anything. I believe that holds up true with this story, as it shows how important Nightcrawler was to his teammates, including flashbacks of his interactions with Wolverine, Beast, and Storm. These moments were nice breaks in the action and help give you an investment in the characters, showing you that they're a real family, and not just superheroes.
Unlike a lot of reviews I do, this isn't really one of those big events that requires a spoiler-heavy analysis or makes you ponder what will happen next. Aside from Nightcrawler coming back to life (be honest, you know that's not a real spoiler; they promoted the start of the book that he returns), nothing really happens that shocks the foundation. It's just good old fashioned fun with the X-Men being heroes and fighting bad guys. It's what you'd want and expect from a comic book.
This story is bittersweet, however, because just as Jason Aaron gets things started, he would end up leaving the book after the first arc to work on other projects. Past X-writers Chris Yost and Craig Kyle would take over writing duties. Now, with Aaron gone, will I drop it like I did "Wolverine and the X-Men"? I'm actually going to stick around. When it comes to Jason LaTour, the new "Wolverine and the X-Men" writer, I was unfamiliar with his work, which made me hesitant to re-add the title. With Yost and Craig on the other hand, while I am only slightly familiar with Craig, I enjoy many things that Chris Yost has done. In addition to writing comic series like "Scarlet Spider", he has also worked on Marvel animated series like "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" as well as the script for "Thor: The Dark World." So while I haven't read their previous X-works, I have confidence that Yost and Craig will continue to deliver a fun X-Men book to enjoy.
Along with good character interaction and an overall sense of fun, I would also highly recommend the inaugural collection of this new series to Nightcrawler fans. Even without the blue elf, amongst all the comics with an "X" in the title, this is the X-Men book to be reading if you want some excitement and to see superheroes being superheroes.
STORY RATING: 8/10
RECOMMENDATION RATING 9/10