Thursday, October 9, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Nightcrawler #7
When the aftermath of a major story begins before the major story even ends, it’s the comic book equivalent of premature ejaculation. It’s awkward, unpleasant, and sometimes leaves stains that are difficult to explain to a dry cleaner. But it’s also one of those things that’s best to just overlook to spare ourselves the shame and indignity. Marvel already announced months ago that Wolverine is going to die. It’s a spoiler beyond a spoiler in that they didn’t even try to hide it. Marvel understands that in the era where no secret or nude picture is safe from the internet, it’s pointless to try. The problem is that the ongoing Death of Wolverine event got delayed and it’s now getting to the point of blue balls because some comics are already set to deal with the aftermath. I don’t want to speculate the kind of semen stains this could end up leaving, but I’m content to assume it’s nothing a little stain remover can’t fix.
There are a lot of characters who will be affected by Wolverine’s death. The man had a lot of friends and more than a few fuck buddies. But if ever Wolverine was going to have a wing man at a club, it would be Nightcrawler. He is to Wolverine what spay tan is to Snookie in that they’ve always been close and they’ve always sought solace in one another. Now in Nightcrawler #7, the impact of Wolverine’s death hits him hard and this guy who only recently came back from the dead has to find a way to deal with it again. I guess guys with blue skin just can’t catch a break unless they’re in a James Cameron movie.
It’s certainly sad for Nightcrawler and not just because he didn’t get to hook up with Navi princess. The timeline here is unclear because, as I said, this takes place after Death of Wolverine #4, which got delayed. So we don’t know the details of Wolverine’s death. We just know that enough time has for the Jean Grey Institute to go into morning, hoping that nobody tries to blow up the institute during that time. And Nightcrawler, never one to sleep off a perfectly sad night, is too restless. He narrates with some insightful, detailed inner dialog. It has just the right voice. It has all the right emotions. It’s just sad as hell because his friend is dead. So anyone who is only partially drunk at this point might want to stop right now to save their buzz.
The inner monologue, which is so easy to fuck up in comics these days, does a great job of establishing Nightcrawler’s mentality. He doesn’t just describe how depressing the Jean Grey Institute is now with Wolverine being dead. He starts talking about who he is, how he’s dealt with death in the past, and how other cultures deal with death. Yet he does it in a way that doesn’t feel like a History Channel documentary. And yes, before Pawn Stars the History Channel used to actually have documentaries about things like death.
This helps him process how he and others deal with death, providing just the right context, even though it still feels out of place chronologically. But instead of building a pyramid or carving out an anatomically incorrect statue, Nightcrawler does something a little different. He goes to the Danger Room and starts loading up holograms that document some of Wolverine’s greatest hits. This includes battles going all the way back to the All-New, All-Different days from the fashion abyss that was the bell-bottom wearing 70s. It seems so long ago. Attitudes towards mustaches and pubic hair have changed so much. But even though it shows nothing new or unique, Nightcrawler’s insight helps give it just the right context. He makes clear how much he admires Wolverine’s ability to be a total badass and still charm the hell out of pretty redheads. Who wouldn’t admire a guy like that? And he hadn’t even gone out drinking with Wolverine at this point.
Nightcrawler continues to sift through more Danger Room simulations that cover more of Wolverine’s defining moments. That naturally includes defining moments like the Phoenix Saga and since this is Chris Claremont writing here, he’s going to throw in a few remarks about how much Wolverine wanted to bone Jean Grey. Never mind how he was heavily involved with Storm at the end. Chris Claremont has never let reality and shitty X-men movies get in the way of his nerd boner for this pairing. Even so, he makes sure it doesn’t last more than four hours by focusing on how Wolverine struggled with emotions and how Jean’s death affected Wolverine. Again, it’s nothing new. It’s not even that groundbreaking. It just helps add to the emotions.
The other important event he covers is the Morlock Massacre. This was an event that affected both him and Wolverine profoundly. Unfortunately, the narrations are a bit lacking here. It again shows Wolverine in his classic glory before he dedicated 95 percent of his energy to hating Cyclops. It only helped establish how his path diverged from Wolverine’s for a time as a result of this infamous battle. It might bore the hell out of those who are familiar with this story that came out during the Regan Administration, but it’s still an important event for Nightcrawler in this context.
As relevant as these events are for Nightcarwler and Wolverine, the narration starts to feel a bit too much like a clip show at some point. He starts going over how he recovered from the Morlock Massacre and joined Excaliber with Kitty Pryde. If this were a thread on a message board, it would definitely get the mods to lock it because it feels off-topic here. It stops being about Wolverine and more about, “Wow, that time in my life sucked ass.” I get that the death of a friend can make someone like Nightcrawler reflect about where he came from. Unless alcohol is involved, it really doesn’t help when musings become more disorganized my sock drawer.
Things stay off-topic for a while. Nightcrawler keeps narrating, but it doesn’t provide the same emotional insight as before. He’s basically like that voice on a movie trailer, describing how he eventually reunited with the X-men. All was good for a time. He and Wolverine went on road trips getting drunk and hitting on Japanese hookers. Then Hope fucking Summers had to enter the picture and Nightcrawler had to die saving her ungrateful ass. Even though this is an event that happened within the past decade, it still doesn’t add much. It only reminds me of how an awesome guy like Nightcrawler ended up dying because of an annoying brat like Hope fucking Summers. I know I shouldn’t still be bitter, but some asshole brats deserve it.
Things finally get back on track when Nightcrawler does something other than remember all those fun times when Wolverine kicked ass or when he got screwed over. This time it involves an ordinary day when he and Wolverine are out and about, probably looking for more pretty Japanese girls or redheads. Then for reasons that I can only attribute to a lack of whiskey, Wolverine knocks Nightcrawler’s image inducer off in the middle of a crowded street in broad daylight. He talks about being a bit cautious after having recently died, but Wolverine basically says, “Fuck that! You’re alive. Embrace who you are. Now let’s go get some whiskey.” That last part was implied. But what makes this more meaningful than another flashback is how for once, Wolverine inspired Nightcrawler to have faith. For a guy whose faith is restricted to bartenders and beautiful women, that’s pretty profound.
It’s profound enough for Nightcrawler to attempt to use the Danger Room to construct a fitting monument. He could go about it any number of ways. He could have a bar and brewery in his name. He could have a strip club full of nothing but redheads and Asians called “Wolverine’s Bitches.” Or he could just have one big garage of motorcycles. Wolverine would love all of that. Instead, Nightcrawler chooses something more heartfelt.
His monument is not exactly the Great Pyramids of Giza, but it is fitting. It’s just a simple house with beer, pool tables, TVs, and filled with friends. Yes, it’s as corny as it sounds. It almost feels like it was ripped from the finale of a bad 70s sitcom. But it works. It has everything Wolverine cherished. It has good friends, motorcycles, and beer. It might not have Jean Grey and Mariko naked covered in whiskey, but it’s still right up there.
But as nice and as fitting as it feels, it evokes too many painful emotions for Nightcrawler. These emotions help him conclude that Wolverine doesn’t need no stinking monument. He was content with whiskey, steak, and good friends. He was not the kind of guy who would surround himself with holograms and pretend they’re real. He would rather get out into the real world, find real people to stab, and real beer to drink. He didn’t just think about the shit he could do. He went out and fucking did it. That’s the kind of guy Nightcrawler remembers. Sure it took him one too many flashbacks to realize it, but it got the job done.
When he finally leaves the Danger Room and ditches the fancy holograms, he meets up with Rachel Grey. It just wouldn’t be fitting enough if a pretty redhead didn’t get involved at some point in a story about remembering Wolverine. They share a nice moment. It’s nothing too epic, but it works well within the context of the story. There’s another jab at how badly Wolverine wants to bone Jean Grey. Even though that would constitute necrophilia at this point, this is Chris Claremont. If X3 wasn’t enough to disgust him with the concept, then nothing will. And sure, it’s debatable how dead Jean Grey is at this point. But the it helps make the moment more satisfying.
This is one of those issues that can be either really heartwarming or a total buzz kill. And because it’s taking place before we even know how Wolverine takes his dirt nap, it does have an odd impact. It’s like walking into a retirement home with a boner. It just feels out of place. It was still nice in that it hit all the right emotions. It covered the full spectrum of Nightcrawler and Wolverine’s friendship. In just reading this issue, anybody is able to appreciate just how close these two were. It doesn’t go so far as to come off as a gay romance novel. It goes just far enough to offer the right perspective on somebody mourning the loss of a friend. There’s not much action and a lot of what happens covers shit that most X-men fans already know or have seen ripped off. But this issue isn’t meant to be epic in that sense. It isn’t meant to have Nightcrawler battle the forces of Hell or get Mystique to go more than five minutes without trying to shoot somebody. It’s meant to show him mourning for his dead friend. And sure, Nightcrawler of all people should know that death in the Marvel universe is about as absolute as a promise from Tony Soprano. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be emotional in all the right ways. Nightcrawler #7 gets a 7 out of 10. Nightcrawler lost his friend, but at least he can take comfort knowing that Wolverine is in Heaven, enjoying endless three-ways with all the Japanese and redheaded twins he wants. And he should take comfort in that. Nuff said!