Sunday, 28 September 2014
NGT #2: "A Boggie Day In L'Un Dun-T'wn"
(Nightcrawler > The Fonz)
I was quite down on the first issue of this mini, arguing it was all over the place, a riot of colour and ill-matching designs in search of a plot. In truth, the plot here isn't much stronger, but it is at least far more focused, which actually removes a lot of the problems.
It's once again desperately simple fare. Here Nightcrawler must defeat the sorcerer and rescue the princess, all with rather unexpected help from his piratical former buddies, who aren't about to let some bad blood stop them gaining the princess for themselves. That's as far from original as Nightcrawler is from home right now. That means the story has to rely on two alternative planks, focusing on how Kurt getting through a pulp fantasy tale works differently to how any other hero might attempt it, and ramping up the weirdness so at least the issue can plausibly make the case that its unique specifics make up for its tired generalities.
And in fact Cockrum at least makes a fist at both of these. Kurt's acrobatics allows him to lead Shagreen's gigantic rock-snake-worm guardian to its bosses own sanctum (never rely on a killer monster your own doors can't stop), and the concluding sabre-duel beneath and ultimately atop a gigantic flying squid employ both Kurt's love of swashbuckling and his skills at it. However many final duels you've seen before, very few of them will involve the hero wielding three blades simultaneously, or define victory by stabbing a shark in the face . It's a shame Kurt has to give up his bonus swords so quickly, actually; did Cockrum simply fail to realise how bad-ass this approach was?
Glorious weirdness is thick on the ground, as well. Not the randomly-generated lunatic chic of last issue, but playful off-kilter stuff. Quite aside from a four-armed shark-faced antagonist, the early pages of the issue are infested with the Boggies Kurt spent all of the last instalment being mistaken for; naked two-foot creatures with miniature bat-wings between their arms and bodies, but dead-ringers for Nightcrawler beyond that, even before you factor in their teleportation skills. Considering their cutesy appearances and sarcastic, odd speech patterns, I suspect these creatures put us in Marmite territory, but personally I rather like them. From this point forward I shall never refer to Lockheed as anything other than "Snappyface Toymonster", and the Boggies' general approach of lambasting Kurt for his total cluelessness is a nice counterpoint to our favourite teleporter's effortless heroics. Each one is a Yoda with a better sense of humour and less interest in trousers. What's not to love?
Which is really all there is to say about this issue. Well, I suppose I could delve into the aggravating nature of the "hero selves helpless princess" motif employed here, but honestly this iteration is so utterly devoid of originality there's a low ceiling on what ripping it up could possibly achieve (Cockrum does shake things up a wee bit by adding some horniness to his innocent princess; reasonable people can disagree over whether that's in any way an improvement). A cliche can be harmful, of course, but at its 15, 232, 155th iteration doesn't strike me as a fruitful place to begin the hammering. It feels more sensible to just confess that there's not a great deal to be said about this book, which isn't to say it's bad, just that its positives are obvious and uncomplicated and its negatives so well-trodden that further bitching seems redundant.
Besides, with this issue ending with Nightcrawler being teleported to a new dimension, there might well be plenty of things to complain about next time around. On this occasion, I'll simply stop here.
 Not that Nightcrawler would do that. His X-Men honour would never allow him. Shark-Dude has to accidentally fall off the squid instead, as is traditional. The accidental death-by-gravity that absolves the hero from blame, I mean. Not toppling off a floating gas-filled cephalopod.
The continuing effects of the time differential between dimensions means that technically, this is all still happening on the same day as NGT #1.
Saturday 22nd December, 1984
White man Bernard Goetz shoots four black teenages in a New York subway, after they surround him and ask for five dollars (they will later be described as muggers; muggers being well known for a) showing no weapons, b) asking for money rather than demanding it, and c) setting their own exceptionally low bar on their score rather than aiming for everything their mark is carrying. All but one recovers (the fourth is paralysed). Goetz is ultimately found not guilty of any charge other than a single illegal firearms possesion count.
"He's going to sacrifice her? Kill her?"
"Of course kill her, stupid! Not gain bigmagic power by nicemaking kissykiss!"