Nightcrawler by Chris Claremont

Nightcrawler #2

Cover to Nightcrawler #2. The cover art has been some of the best part!

This week, I want to look at the new run of Nightcrawler by Chris Claremont. It makes sense that it’s Claremont writing it – he’s put decades into the character. Of course, that also means you might not expect to see something new from the comic – but instead more of the same.

Then again, more of the same took a lot of work. When I got back into comics, I found out that my favorite character – Nightcrawler – had died. I wrote about some of the signs they gave about potentially bringing him back. And finally, as talked about here on Sourcerer, Nightcrawler came back!

It happens all the time in comics – the dead character comes back. Clones, time travel, alternate dimensions, never dead in the first place… but in Nightcrawler’s case, he actually and fully died. And went to Heaven. And that’s where the X-Men found him – and brought him back from. That’s all chronicled in Amazing X-Men.

So he’s back, and has a solo comic – something actually pretty rare for the blue elf – and has his old creator back at the helm. What are they up to? Why bring Nightcrawler back? A few thoughts on that and on the comic Nightcrawler!

You Can Never Go Home Again

Oh. Except that you can.

That’s where things start in Nightcrawler. Kurt Wagner’s been dead. Ten years or so in outside world time (so who knows how long in the comics…). And he’s back. So what do you do? What would you do?

Cover to Nightcrawler #4

Cover to Nightcrawler #4

He goes looking for old connections, of course. He find Amanda Sefton, his lifelong companion and often lover. That leads them away to their old home, the circus that Nightcrawler was so quick to remind everyone of in X-2. There he is: back home again. The people are still there, and he knows them, but they don’t believe he’s back alive, and it’s full of laughs and happy. And action. And lots of teleporting.

From there, back to the X-Men, where Nightcrawler has to find a home back among his brethren, in a landscape that has changed quite a bit. New school, new headmaster (Wolverine?), and lots of new students.

Oh, and more swashbuckling and teleporting. They definitely know their audience!

It’s 7 issues in so far, and honestly, I don’t know what I think. It feels like a nostalgia ride, like a last hurrah, like a pet project and labor of love for Claremont. It’s some pretty obvious sorts of things that Kurt does once he’s back, some pretty normal sorts of adjustments. And by normal, I mean I’ve seen Buffy: the Vampire Slayer season 6. He was in Heaven!…

But can the comic be more than that? The thing I maybe have to compare it to most is the older run of Nightcrawler, a 12-comic run from before Kurt died. In it, he’s not going around fighting at every chance. He’s investigating a mystery – the sort that seems to follow him around. Demons and magic. Sure, there’s been magic in the new comic, but that older comic had some real twists and was a lot of fun. This is just a stroll down memory lane so far… once that’s done, will it become more? Or will it end, like a lot of one-character comics do?

Nightcrawler (2004-2005) #8

Cover to #8 of the 2004-2005 12-issue Nighcrawler

I have a theory (it could be bunnies! oh, no, not Buffy, sorry), and it has to do with the most recent issue. Continue reading

How to Make a Comic Book Movie – Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, I have been exploring some general rules that, for the most part, comic book movies follow – especially superhero movies. In part 1, there was a focus on the origin story, which seems to be a constantly recurring element of superhero movies. In part 2, there was more of a focus on the sequels and franchise that comic movies tend to always have in mind. Here are my six general rules:

  1. Start at the Beginning – they always seem to go back to an origin story, and when they don’t (Superman Returns), it doesn’t always go very well.
  2. Pick a good Origin Story – while origin stories are a huge percentage of comics movies, they’re a much smaller subset of the comics themselves. However, they’re often told a few times in different ways – picking a good one is key!
  3. Pick a Writer and Stick With Them – a lot of people have had their hand at writing about these characters, with DC and Marvel spanning back decades. You can’t adapt all of it in a handful of movies – so generally, they pick one writer and go with their interpretation and storylines.
  4. Aim for Sequels (or a Franchise) – comic movies are like potato chips – hard to have just one. For studios, this makes sense – you make these movies to make a lot of them, and thus a lot of money. For fans, this makes sense – there are so many stories to be told, you can just keep going!
  5. Pick Multiple Villains – it rarely fails: if it’s not an origin story, then you’re probably going to see several named villains, often a distraction or a red herring in the bunch.
  6. Be Willing to Make Changes – sometimes good, sometimes bad, but changes are inevitable with these adaptations. Especially, the longer the series, the more that choices have to be made to keep with movie continuity, rather than comics continuity.
One of the 25 covers from Empire 25 for X-Men: Days of Future Past! I used this on http://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/the-hype-machine-x-men-days-of-future-past/

One of the 25 covers from Empire 25 for X-Men: Days of Future Past! I used this on http://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/the-hype-machine-x-men-days-of-future-past/

You don’t necessarily see all of these rules in one movie – can’t, really, as some deal with the very fact that there’s more than one! However, the more you can look at, the more apparent these rules become. Not convinced? Then allow me to explore a case study: the X-Men franchise. Now at 7 movies spanning decades of history, this series has more movies slated and even more in the talks: titles like DeadpoolGambitX-Force, and the sequel X-Men: Apocalypse.

While a rule like “aim for a franchise” might seem obvious here, are the rest? How do they hold up? Read on, and then let me know what you think in the comments below!

The Proof is in the Pudding: The X-Men

But wait, you say, the first X-Men didn’t include an origin story of the X-Men. It wasn’t necessarily based on a specific comic, although maybe the aesthetic of Ultimate X-Men at least is a part… except that comic came after the movie!

However, in large part, these comics all owe a lot to the work of Chris Claremont, and his run of X-Men comics in the 80’s. Because these comics first gave us Kitty Pryde, whose origin story has become a staple of the X-Men.

Cover from Uncanny X-Men #139… 2 issues before Days of Future Past. I used this on http://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/kitty-pryde-in-x-men-days-of-future-past/

Cover from Uncanny X-Men #139… 2 issues before Days of Future Past.
I used this on http://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/kitty-pryde-in-x-men-days-of-future-past/

No, really. They just used this design on a comic released last week: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/48535/all-new_x-men_2012_32

It’s hard to introduce a new character in comics, it is. And to get new fans buying in, to give them their own life. It happened with Kitty Pryde. She joins the team, and then almost immediately after, we are shown a dystopian future: with Kitty Pryde still alive. She’s powerful and skilled enough to survive the genocide of the mutants. Then she comes back in time and saves them. It’s just a little two-comic story called Days of Future Past.

However, this idea – of introducing the young, female mutant to the team, to introduce the character, to bring in a new audience, to re-introduce the X-Men and do a mini-origin story – they’ve done it a number of times, in different media.

Remember the 90’s X-Men animated series? That opened with Jubilee, the new young female mutant, introduced to the X-Men and who they are and what they do. They fight the Sentinels, deal with the mutant rights issue, and you spawn a TV show. Or there’s the amazing video game, X-Men Legends. This game opens with the new mutant Magma, a young girl who is recruited to the X-Men, trains, and joins the team. She’s who you play in-between missions, back at the X-Mansion.

So then, there’s the first X-Men movie. There’s our young Rogue, origin-story in tow, joining the X-Men, getting caught up in the rights issue, coming under Wolverine’s wing. Oh, because that seems to generally be part of it too: they end up as Wolverine’s sidekick. In all of these cases. Continue reading

Chris Claremont, Nightcrawler return to X-Men

Collab__Nightcrawler_EVO___by_Bampire

by Jeremy DeFatta

It looks like we have more big news coming out of the comics industry this week, this time from Marvel: Chris Claremont (who is responsible for most of what you think of when you hear X-Men) will be writing an ongoing series featuring Nightcrawler beginning this April. Read more about it here.

I’m excited to hear about this, being as this can be a great writer/character pair.

Claremont is responsible for a lot of goodness in the X-Men universe, and two of his most recognizable stories are Days of Future Past (soon to be a big deal of a movie from Fox) and The Dark Phoenix Saga (which anyone else who grew up with the old X-Men cartoon will likely remember vividly). He is also the co-creator of such characters as Emma Frost (former White Queen of the Hellfire Club) and Mr. Sinister, both of whom have experienced a sort of renaissance of interest in recent years. He also co-created Rogue, my favorite of Wolverine’s “little sister” characters. See here for more about his tenure at Marvel.

I feel that Nightcrawler is one of those characters you either love or you hate. Personally, I love him. He’s often presented as the moral compass of the X-Men and demonstrates a naturally merciful outlook on life, despite the fact that (given the very visible nature of his mutation) he has experienced a great deal more persecution over the course of his life than many of his teammates. Another telling trait is his friendship with Wolverine—he is one of the first people to accept the savage Canadian as a rational human being, all appearances at this point to the contrary.

Intriguingly, both Claremont and Nightcrawler have been absent from the X-Men roster for awhile now, though Nightcrawler is making his comeback in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s Amazing X-Men after a shocking death several years ago in the Second Coming storyline featuring the mutant messiah, Hope. These are likely still available at your local comic shops.

I highly recommend checking out Claremont’s body of work and all the other stories I’ve mentioned in this post. Go ahead and subscribe to Claremont’s Nightcrawler beginning in April; I know I will! Tweet me @quaintjeremy. Let me know your thoughts below.

image: Bampire/DeviantArt