A year and a half after his reappearance in the Marvel Legacy one-shot, Wolverine is finally officially back in the Marvel Universe. Naturally, the first thing the resurrected Logan has to take care of is…leading a new Infinity Watch?! We’ve got a discussion of the beginning of that tale from writer Gerry Duggan and artists Andy MacDonald and Jordie Bellaire. Plus, the Age of X-Man rolls along with a spotlight on Hollywood superstar Kurt Wagner in The Amazing Nightcrawler #1! It’s time for the Marvel Rundown!

Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1

Written by Gerry Duggan
Illustrated by Andy MacDonald
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Roberto Poggi, & Dean White

Alexander Jones: Joe! Wolverine is finally, 100% back. Not a dream, not a hoax, I promise. Plus, he’s bringing a brand new Infinity Watch with him…or is he? What did you think of the unfocused script and artwork of Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1?

Joe Grunenwald: You know that Logan’s really back when we start getting totally random Wolverine comics. This issue is…well, it’s definitely a comic that exists. I’m just not sure why yet.

Jones: I have found the incoherent and bombastic nature of writer’s Gerry Duggan’s scripts to be electrifying but this is the one that outright jumped the shark into crazy town. This was a huge cosmic story that needed an element to ground the cast and the truly insane ideas Duggan was crafting. Artist Andy MacDonald’s pencils also felt really wild and unkempt which did not complement the remainder of the narrative. The idea of Wolverine spearheading a new Infinity Watch is intriguing to me and the execution of the issue fell flat.

Grunenwald: I will give Duggan this: the idea of Wolverine having anything to do with infinity stones is one I never would’ve thought of in a million years, so he and Marvel get points for doing something new. I also appreciated what I read as Logan’s acknowledgment of how insane some of the stuff in this book is. There’s a lot of standing around and talking about some truly out there stuff, and Logan seems as skeptical and confused about it as I was.

Jones: This script packed a lot of recent Marvel continuity and had quite a few interesting things to say. It’s just that once the big ideas started to take shape, Duggan really lost sight of the story. The sequence where Wolverine was wandering around the mansion took up so much page real estate and did not serve to flesh Logan’s character out. The recap and context behind Infinity Wars was incredibly indulgent. Infinity Wars was really, really unwieldy and asking people to remember the events of the story with the added elements of Wolverine’s recent backstory was a huge misfire. I’m incredibly disappointed with the end result of this story.

Grunenwald: I had hoped, perhaps foolishly, that after the events of Infinity Wars Marvel would let the infinity stones rest for a bit. Obviously, that’s not going to be the case. I think your use of ‘indulgent’ to describe this issue is perfect. It’s almost entirely recap and retcon of the past year of Wolverine’s appearances since his return in the Marvel Legacy one-shot. Continuity-obsessed fans will probably love it, but there’s no story otherwise.

Jones: Duggan seems to be under the assumption that readers would have remembered or have been really invested in Infinity Wars. The image of Requiem unmasking himself as Wolverine is definitely enjoyable but I don’t think artist Andy MacDonald captured the imagery with the kind of composition or page layout the scene deserved. I feel like the creative team is capable of a better result than what was delivered on the page.

Grunenwald: MacDonald’s art started really strong—the first few pages of tableaus from Logan’s life were wonderfully evocative. Given the heavily expository nature of Duggan’s script, though, MacDonald ultimately didn’t have a lot to work with in this issue, and unfortunately the art doesn’t do much to elevate the material. Even Jordie Bellaire’s colors couldn’t help make things visually interesting. Setting heavy exposition against the overwhelmingly gray backdrop of a bombed-out Xavier’s School does not an exciting comic make.

Jones: There are a couple moments like the pages where Loki has the Infinity Stones that look incredibly interesting and strike a really strange vibe. Some of the pages look really inconsistent and don’t carry the same level of polish as others, though. The low points from the art go down as poorly as the most expository scenes littered about the issue.

Grunenwald: It’s a shame because all of the creators on this book have put out really good work in the past, and this issue just falls flat. Maybe now that the exposition is out of the way the ensuing issues will be better.

Jones: Joe, would you care to award Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 a final rating?

Grunenwald: I suppose it’s that time, isn’t it. Honestly, this was a slog. The bait-and-switch of Logan returning to the school was a frustrating way to start the issue, and it didn’t get better as things progressed. As I said earlier, I think continuity nerds will probably love this, but it did nothing for me. This is a SKIP.

Jones: I’m alarmed to report that, as someone who really enjoys Duggan’s writing and Marvel continuity, this is a SKIP for me as well.

Final Verdict: Alexander and Joe both say SKIP!

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1

Written by Seanan McGuire
Illustrated by Juan Frigeri
Colored by Dono Sánchez-Almara
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover by Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki, & Federico Blee
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

When it comes to any of the scripts submitted for Age of X-Man, writers should be pushing the most insane ideas right to the forefront. Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 is hardly an essential or even vital reimagination of the character. Nightcrawler has the same gusto and charming personality of the core series if not dulled and a little darker than readers are used too. Author Seanan McGuire uses a few overly familiar plot beats that end up detracting from the overall story. The material between Meggan and Kurt also has a disappointingly clear ‘been there, done that’ feeling.

The movie star lifestyle that Kurt enjoys doesn’t come off as that much different from his role in the core series. McGuire has a difficult time finding an interesting angle to explore the famous mutants in with the Hollywood tone. With no clear antagonist, the issue struggles to keep the momentum going. The melodramatic final page brought an interesting cliffhanger to the narrative that was executed too overtly to carry the level of nuance McGuire was attempting to convey.

Artist Juan Frigeri’s pencils can look solid in some places and haphazard and rushed in others. The pencils lack a level of clarity and ambition. The panel compositions and layouts from Frigeri don’t take any chances, making them hard to get excited about. There are a few pages and spreads that lack the level of detail and polish needed to make an interesting comic book page. While Frigeri could still be learning his craft as an artist, the pencils in Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 are unambitious.

McGuire and Frigeri present a slightly unlikable and derivative alternate version of a fan-favorite mutant in Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1. Seeing the narrative bring nothing new to the character marked a definitive low point for the crossover this far. Frigeri’s art is lacking in polish. Nightcrawler’s life feels eerily similar to the regular version of him due to the fact that his real life are famous in their own right.

Final Verdict: SKIP! This week was rough. 

Next week, the Age of X-Man continues with a look at The Extremists!