Review: Way of X #1
The elevator pitch is that Way of X is about Nightcrawler founding a mutant religion. However, Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, and Java Tartaglia bring so much more to the table in a book that visually looks like an X-book, but is far from it. What they’re really doing is picking up some of the threads from Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men and exploring what life is like on Krakoa and what holds it together.
Utopias seem to be doomed to failure, and Nightcrawler has a nagging feeling about that when the book opens with Professor X telepathically calling to him in shadows surrounded by pictures of his exes. Looking into Charles Xavier the man and not just figurehead or cameo king is one of the myriad delights of Way of X #1, which goes down many amusing and thought-provoking rabbit holes of potential storylines until finally finding a real hook in its final scene.
Before showing long conversations between Nightcrawler and Dr. Nemesis about Dunbar’s number, belief, and psychedelics or data pages that are feel like riffs on Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions (Kurt is Catholic), Spurrier and Quinn set up Way of X with a team of mutants going on a mission.In keeping with the series’ premise, this mission is religious theme with Nightcrawler, DJ, Pixie, Loa, and Blink disrupting a “museum of hate” that the cloak and dagger mutant-extermination organization Orchis is using to convince people that mutants are dangerous and evil. It’s like that room in Kentucky’s Creation “Museum” that pins all evils, wars, and sicknesses of the world on people not believing that the world is 4,000 years old and was created in seven 24 hour days, but with panels from old X-Men comics. This is pretty messed up and is a commentary on how museums (Especially more respectable ones than the one mentioned in the previous sentence.) can codify narratives about countries and people, but Si Spurrier and Bob Quinn also connect it to Krakoan belief systems when Pixie takes a bullet in the head so she can be resurrected again. This really messes with Kurt’s own beliefs and gives Quinn an opportunity to draw one hell of a befuddled Nightcrawler.
It also sets up the overarching conflict between the violent ritual of the Crucible being the shared narrative of Krakoa or something more peaceful, which Kurt is still workshopping in the data pages of Way of X #1. As seen in other X-Books and succinctly explained by Exodus, the Crucible is a ritual where mutants who were de-powered by the Scarlet Witch fight to the death so they can be resurrected and re-powered. It’s primal and bloodthirsty, and Bob Quinn switches from his usual grids and tiers to more diagonal and chaotic layouts to show the discomfort that mutants like the aptly named Lost feel as they are forced to be a part of a violent struggle to get their abilities back.
Java Tartaglia also uses flat, stark colors to show how much of the crowd has embraced the Crucible as Krakoa’s proverbial theory of everything. However, he, Quinn, and Spurrier hint at another way when Lost calls Nightcrawler a “kindly one” an allusion to the Greek play Eumenides, which showed the vengeful Furies becoming the protective Kindly Ones.
But, originally “Kindly One” was a euphemism so the people of Athens could avoid the wrath of the Furies and still mention them by name so maybe Nightcrawler is seen as more of a malevolent force a la the mysterious Patchwork Man, who is a kind of a folk Bogeyman spirit in Krakoa rising up through campfire stories along with the more “orthodox” baddie Scarlet Witch. Unexplainable forces dart between the margins of Way of X #1 culminating in Si Spurrier and Bob Quinn’s big final page reveal that makes sense in both of the context of this issue and Spurrier’s larger body of X-Book work. Nightcrawler and Pixie darting around in a big action scene is interspersed with a spooky figure that even causes Professor X to cry out in the night and cut the bullshit for once in his conversations. It’s a figure that can’t be taken out with the blunt force of a strike team, hence, its appearance in the clever, intellectual X-Book whose protagonist is trying to find a belief system for Krakoa that isn’t centered around ritual combat as things come fun circle.
Way of X #1 is a true feast of a X-Book from Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, and Java Tartaglia. It’s funny, sensitive, smart, and covers a range of emotions from hope to doubt and even confusion. (It’s definitely one you’ll have to read a few times to let it sink in.) Its 42 page length also let Spurrier and Quinn give an extended glimpse at the life of the mind, body, and soul of Krakoa, pick the brains and feelings of an idiosyncratic cast of characters, including Magneto, Professor X, Nightcrawler, and stealing the whole damn show, Dr. Nemesis, and also set up the initial plotline of the series.
Story: Si Spurrier Art: Bob Quinn
Colors: Java Tartaglia Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review