“Nightcrawler” #7 is an issue that will make die-hard X-Men fans cringe, exclaim, and bow their heads at simultaneously as we too deal with our feelings for Logan’s death in the cannon.
Written by Chris Claremont & Marguerite Bennett
Art by Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg
Returning from the dead, cutting off all ties with his father and being separated into different realities from his young love Amanda by her crazed mother seemed to be as bad as it could get for Kurt, but then, Logan had to die. Logan, the man who went to heaven and pulled Kurt back to earth to help save the world, Logan. The man who taught Elf not to fear himself for how he looked, and to love people as much as he loved and had faith in God. Where will Nightcrawler find his comfort now that Wolfie is gone?
In this issue Kurt attempts to recall and memorialize all he can of Logan. Although as readers we know, like Kurt, that any recap given will not cover all of Wolverine’s importance to him. As readers we can forgive any “missing” pieces of this superhero’s loss as the issue is also addressing the very same issue for the cannon. Kurt tells us, “How’s that for hubris–my best friend is gone and I talk about myself.” As we watch Kurt remember Wolfie for the impact that he had on him, we are left wondering as readers:
What is worth remembering, and what do we do with the memories of our dead?
To address, first, the cannon’s loss–Claremont’s writing is a master of revelry. His laser to the wall story-lines with tri-cyborgs and ancient mythical beasts will never fail to introduce a story that is romping, explosive fun, that doesn’t stop to question–did I go too far–as his worlds play by their own rules. His not stopping to question if his creatures, or intergalactic jumps through space and time have given us some of the most noteworthy stock in our superhero canon. Magento. Rogue. He made the Phoenix. He made elder beasts reappear as the big-bads they are. He gave us Scott Summers (which although we sometimes want to say, cool it with the whining Scott, I can listen to Bright Eyes if I wanna mope who refused to not bring ethical quandaries into the world of super-hero control, and management). But one big, bad, thing he gave us, was the choice to pick Wolverine out from being a “stock” character in the X-Men universe and create a back-story and life for him that served to springboard many tales, and adventures.
If it wasn’t for Claremont, there wouldn’t be a Wolfie like we knew. This issue is as much a tribute to his former work, as it is to the character that has just been killed. In this way, when Kurt is talking about his “hubris” we also hear Claremont recognizing it too.
Aside from the risks, and bombastic thrills that the six year old within me cannot stop clapping over more robot fights, or dinosaurs, or mind melting technology that somehow comes into the scene and provides risk and wonder, Claremont is the grand-master of the confessional tone and continues to prove it, alongside Bennett, within this issue of Nightcrawler. He does have one trick. Often, he finds one metaphor and runs with an entire issue to use it to illustrate a character’s central conflict that can’t be necessarily addressed in concrete terms, or solved through dialogue.
In Nightcrawler #7, Claremont and Bennett show us Kurt’s grief through the need to build. So this brings to question, what could Kurt build and where could he go to build something that would fill the hole in his heart that has been made through the death of Logan?
In order to recapture Logan, his memory, and his meaning, Kurt brings us to the danger room–a room capable of creating any reality through memories (a dangerous room to send a grieving heart). Inside of the danger room, we are left recapping former adventures of the pair from Krakoa to a walk on the street with Wolfie after Kurt’s return from heaven. Kurt confides in us, telling us that, “as far as [Logan] was concerned, he was going to live forever.” And now that this isn’t true, we see Kurt try to immortalize his memory through the construction of a home fit for Wolverine within the danger room, embodying all the Logan-essentials…as if this is enough to bring back Logan, or fill the emptiness inside of him. Is it?Continued below
As the issue continues to reflect on Wolverine’s meaning to Kurt, we see Nauck and Rosenberg archival work come into full play and full force. Bringing in decades worth of Logan (from the lumber-jack Paul Bunyan look that is clearly referenced in an easter egg to the Uncanny to the most recent average-man flannel with bleeding knuckles) was no easy task for Todd Nauck and Rachelle Rosenberg to accomplish, but they do so with as much of a critical eye to accuracy (ex: The Excalibur shot is so spot on it’s scary) as they do towards providing dynamic energy into these old scenes. Their full panel ensemble shot at the end of all the “touched souls” by Wolverine is a panel to hold up to the mantelpiece of any X-Men’s heart.
Nauck’s got an eye for motion. Rosenberg’s got the force of contrast on her side, and together, the two create utmost clarity and maintain a realism within battle scenes that is very much needed in such a human-problem-themed issue. Each drawn page is balanced by an equal attention to action, and panels of reflection. Nauck’s detailed eye and Rosenberg’s depth of contour, decode Wagner’s golden eyes, and bring us even closer to Elf.
It seems like there could be more to leave us readers with after the death of Logan, but in not doing so, Claremont and Bennett’s writing suggests that it is time to move on now, or, as Kurt says better, “You toast the man and tell stories about him that make you laugh. You do honor to his life by vowing to make yours better.” This reader is looking ahead excited to see how Kurt will prove that to us readers at a loss.
Final Verdict: 7.2–a masterfully drawn tribute with some fine words to live by; an issue like a piece of patchwork to stitch over the hole in our X-Men shaped heart.