"The Cruelest Cut, Part 1 of 2"
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Alan Davis (p), Mark Farmer (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After opening with a fun visit to one of Nightcrawler's Danger Room programs, we see the X-Men are called in to help with a murder investigation in District X, as the killings look to have been committed by an attacker with adamantium claws. However while Wolverine is clear by the evidence we see the investigation leads them to a young woman who is sporting a pair of adamantium claws, which she quickly buries in Wolverine's belly.
Truth be told I rather enjoyed this issue, as Chris Claremont offers up a story that isn't tied to a story that he worked on more than a decade in the past. Now I'm sure it helps if one has read the "NYX" issue that introduced X-23 to the Marvel Universe, and the District X concept was likely spelled out in better detail in the "District X" series, but given I've read neither title, I can say that Chris Claremont did a solid job of spelling out the details that one needs to enjoy this issue. I will say my interest in this issue's main plot is higher than I expected it to be going in, as while I expect the character is a clone rather than the actual daughter of Wolverine, I am enjoying the idea that there is a story to be told regarding X-23's link to Wolverine. It's also interesting to note that X-23 is not exactly an innocent soul, as it would appear that she has little problem butchering a group of mutant bashers, and while the issue makes it clear that these thugs had evil intent, this doesn't make it okay to kill them, nor to kidnap their intended victim. I also found the idea of a mutant pathologist to be a fun idea, and I hope we'll be seeing this character again, as he's too good an idea to be merely a throwaway character. There's also a nice scene where we see Wolverine has to be reminded that he's dealing with a grieving father, and not a mutant hater. The opening swashbuckling scene with Nightcrawler also got the story off on the right foot, and I'm sure it made me more charitable toward the rest of the issue.
Alan Davis gets the issue off to a rollicking start as Nightcrawler and Rachel are in the midst of a Danger Room program that one can't help but get caught up in, as even if it's a throwaway action scene, Alan Davis' art plays a huge role in one's willingness to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. The art also does a nice job of conveying the moment of awkward romantic tension between Nightcrawler and Rachel, as their shared expression after the kiss is a great little moment, as was their hand in the cookie jar reaction when they discover they are being watched. The art also does a nice job of playing up the surreal abilities of the mutant coroner, as he uses his ability to examine the bodies, and the atmosphere of the Mutant theme club is nicely presented. The final shot of the issue is also a striking visual.
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