As promised, I bought the first issue of Amazing X-Men, the first part of “The Quest for Nightcrawler,” yesterday. It’s the first comic I’ve bought since the beginning of the summer and the first Marvel book I’ve bought since well before they killed Kurt Wagner off back in 2010. I did not, however, go down to my local comic book shop and pick up the issue. Instead, I bought the digital version through Comixology.
I admit to mixed feelings about this choice. My local comic shop, Dragon’s Lair San Antonio, is also my local gaming shop and I haven’t put any money in their tills for months now. It’s a great place – clean, well-stocked, and pretty gender-neutral – but it’s hard to argue that I need to buy any dead-tree RPG books when the PDFs are cheaper and I’m the only one who reads them (I’ve got a laser printer, so it’s really cheap and easy to print out the pages I need). In the case of comics, I’m just plain sick and tired of the long boxes stuffed in my closet and the pile of single issues on the coffee table… but I still feel guilty.
Reading the comic on my iPhone 3GS was… OK. I lost track of what page I was on and how long the comic was, so I was surprised by reaching the end. The flow from panel to panel is smooth, and you can always magnify the page to check little details in the art. I feel gypped by paying the same price for a digital copy as for the paper copy (especially since I found out too late that the paper copy comes with a digital copy) but it makes me want to check out some reasonably-priced digital books (like Batman ’66).
There was, unfortunately, no way this issue could quite live up to my dreams -- after all, it wasn’t illustrated by Alan Davis – but it was a joy to see the swashbuckling, bantering Nightcrawler back in action again. The issue begins with the late Kurt Wagner moping about in Heaven, feeling like he still has a mission on Earth, when demonic pirates led by Kurt’s father Azazel show up and try raiding the place. A showpiece swordfight ensues as we are reminded why Nightcrawler is the superhero I want to be. The comic then cuts to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning where Firestar (from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends) has shown up for her first day of work. She gets dragged along as a gaggle of X-Men investigate the mysterious behavior of the Bamfs – tiny, super-deformed Nightcrawler lookalikes that have infested the school like gremlins – and then the whole teamed gets teleported into the afterlife. The End.
Dammit, Jason Aaron, do you really need to stretch out the tear-filled reunion for five issues? Couldn’t we just have a double-sized first issue that ends with the reunion and then they take out Azazel in issue 2? I have never hated decompressed storytelling so much.
I haven’t made up my mind about getting back into comics yet. I really, really don’t want piles of floppy singles crowding up my house, but I’m kinda dissatisfied with having only an ephemeral digital copy. I might just be one of those people who waits for the trade paperback.
Still, I’m happy the real Nightcrawler is back.