Si Spurrier’s out-of-left field Way of X title has been a real gem in the X-lineup, with issue #4 permitting the writer to delve into numerous moral questions created by the resurrection protocols in the new Krakoan society. The series, ostensibly a Nightcrawler and Legion book, grapples with questions about death in an era where resurrection is a common occurrence, while also dealing with the role of forgiveness and reconciliation, now that heroes and villains live shoulder to shoulder.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Way of X #4!
This issue starts with Lost telling a parable about forgiveness and revenge to Nightcrawler, capturing the dilemma she is facing when confronted by Fabien Cortez, the man responsible for the death of her parents. Nightcrawler, trying to find moral footing for the reconciled mutants of Krakoa, argues that Cortez must be forgiven for his past transgressions, as the new rules of Krakoa make clear. But this comic is really about Kurt confronting the inadequacies of compromise in the Hickman era, and we can see the direction the character plans to push mutant kind near the end of the issue when Kurt confronts Cortez. This is a theme I have a keen interest in (writing about historical parallels at reconciliation) and it’s inspiring to see these questions tackled adeptly by Spurrier in this book.
There are subtle ways Spurrier tackles the cavalier way mutants now face death. When Onslaught, the omnipotent force revealed to be present on the island last issue, manifests in the Green Lagoon, Legion simply kills everyone in the room rather than confront the force head-on. It’s a comical scene shrewdly illuminating the critique Spurrier seems to be addressing in this book: what does it mean for a people if death is now the main approach to address a problem? It also calls into question Krakoa’s own self-imposed “no kill” law, as death is tacitly omnipresent within mutant society.
What I love about this series is the way Spurrier has basically just made Way of X a direct sequel to his previous works on X-Men: Legacy and X-Force, with his favorite characters folded into this Nightcrawler focused book fluently. In addition to the aforementioned Legion, whose troubled relationship with his father Professor X are given center stage, Spurrier continues to weave Dr. Nemesis, a throwaway character given new life by the writer, elegantly into the questions Nightcrawler is raising about the overlooked social and ethical problems in Krakoan society. Even characters like Dust and the Xorn brothers are given meaningful actions, making them more than window dressing in the larger narrative.
Bob Quinn, who has done great work on The Champions and Captain America in the past, is in top form in this issue. His line work is emotive and detailed, while giving tension to what amounts to a number of conversations between characters punctuated by moments of violence.
This issue teases some big challenges for the mutants of Krakoa. With a reincarnated Onslaught now present, it’s likely going to require a team larger than Nightcrawler and Legion to confront this force (it also seems suspicious that Marvel is reprinting the massive Onslaught Omnibus in early 2022, setting off forewarning speculation).
Looking ahead, it seems we will only get another issue of this current run, but Spurrier has noted that we should see this as the end of season 1 and not the end of his exploration of mutant ethos. I know I am looking forward to where he takes these characters, and if you aren’t already reading this book, now is a good time to go pick up the back issues at your local comic shop.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!