Is it murder if you can’t die?
- Written By: Si Spurrier
- Art By: Bob Quinn
- Colors By: Java Tartaglia
- Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
- Cover Art By: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Marte Gracia
- Cover Price: $3.99
- Release Date: July 14,2021
In Way of X #4, Nightcrawler and Legion shift their focus away from the sexy time of rule #1 (“Make More Mutants”) to rule #2 (“Kill No Man”). What should be the easier rule to follow is, of course, more complicated than it seems when some mutant powers influence and coerce others to take potentially lethal action. Fabian Cortez decides to put the rule to the test by giving Gorgon a boost that could lead to the death of a lot of innocent people, and it’s up to Nightcrawler to stop Gorgon from killing innocent bystanders without killing Gorgon in the process.
Was It Good?
It was fine. The story is hitting a bit of a lull by spending a LOT of time exploring the philosophical ideas of murder in a society where everyone is effectively immortal. Without the stakes and the finality of death, rule #2 (“Kill No Man”) some across like a mundane house rule ala “Wipe Your Feet When Entering the House” or “Finish Your Dinner Or You Don’t Get Dessert”.
It’s a rule grounded in largely Biblical foundations that Nightcrawler is realizing has increasingly less relevance in Krakoan society. So, how do you make a rule about “no killing” interesting when death has no meaning? You invent a situation where a mutant is pushed to kill humans.
The setup for the scenario is inventive enough — Fabian Cortez boosts Gorgon to uncontrollable levels. If Gorgon kills half of Manhattan, is Fabian responsible or not? If Nightcrawler is forced to kill Gorgon to stop him, does that break the rule or are there exceptions for the greater good? All good quandaries to noodle over but it’s not riveting storytelling.
As a side plot, we get a little more development over Lost’s freak-out when she encountered Fabian Cortez. Fabian was apparently connected to some trauma in Lost’s life. Her lack of closure is creating a challenge in accepting the edict that every mutant coming to Krakoa gets a clean slate.
As much as this is a Nightcrawler book, Fabian Cortez and his naughty ways are becoming the catalyst for so much of what’s going on in the last few issues, relegating Nightcrawler to reactive character status. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but eventually Nightcrawler needs to shift from Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt to making a decision about what he wants to do. Good stories are about conflict, and so far the conflicts are minor moral tests that challenge Nightcrawler’s world views, but Spurrier moves on from each conflict without a clear sense of resolution for Nightcrawler to internalize.
As a reader, you want to feel like the main character and their story is leading somewhere. Right now, I don’t get that feeling with this title other than Nightcrawler is questioning and listening. Okay, that’s fine, but pepper in some conclusions. Something to say “Nightcrawler has adopted X belief about topic Y.”
As for the art, this book is a visual pleasure. Quinn is cranking out some gorgeous pages, and it’s a treat to read, even if the story is lacking in the energy department.
Way of X #4 is becoming a prime example of storytelling that poses thought-provoking discussion topics, but by not answering the questions in Nightcrawler’s mind, the story is beginning to fall flat. The reader doesn’t have to agree with the answer, but the main character eventually has to to make a choice about where he’s going. Otherwise, the main character, much like this series, starts to go nowhere.