David Haller, aka Legion, takes full control in Way of X #2. Can Nightcrawler figure out how to keep up?
Way of X #2
Giuseppe Camuncoli & Marte Gracia (Cover Artists), Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Bob Quinn (Artist), Si Spurrier (Writer), Java Tartaglia (Color Artist)
May 26, 2021
I had assumptions about what Way of X would be, likely shaped by my love and recent re-reading of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable series. In that, the main character, Lauren Olamina, reshapes her religious upbringing to fit a new world. So is born Earthseed, a new religion founded around a simple concept: God Is Change. Throughout the two books of the series, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, we are made privy to Lauren’s notebook and the thoughts that bring her to her conclusions about God, such that she is able to gather others around her to plant the seeds of her new belief system and begin a path towards greater understanding.
Nightcrawler isn’t quite there yet. Though he has many thoughts, most of those thoughts are wrapped up in a myriad of questions, and many of the answers he seeks are locked away by the tenets of the current belief system that he clings to. David’s current plight as well as the Patchwork Man that is haunting Krakoa’s dreams force Nightcrawler to confront his questions and beliefs — with more questions.
Apparently, those questions look a lot like a monstrous kraken attacking a ship full of Nightcrawlers, David discovers on a jaunt through Kurt’s mind. He also makes a discovery about the Patchwork Man that implies that this mysterious being’s machinations run far deeper than dreams.
Much of this issue takes place bouncing in and out of minds, or focused on Legion. Java Tartaglia’s colours are vibrant in and around Krakoa and the other locations, filling in artist Bob Quinn’s detailed imagery as the action flows quickly from panel to panel. There is no time to breathe as we move from Krakoa to Saudi Arabia and back and in and out of mindscapes. When the focus shifts to Legion’s astral form, the imagery loses shadowing and detail, almost washing out everything around him in a not-so-subtle display of his immense powers, even when physically incapacitated.
As it turns out, the only living piece of David Haller is his brain, which is trapped in an Orchis facility where they have been experimenting on him to figure out how Krakoa, among other things, ticks. After freeing Nightcrawler from the Patchwork Man’s intrusion in his brain, freeing what remains of David’s physical body is the favour David asks in return. To execute this favour leads Nightcrawler further along his path to what it means to live and believe in something more in a post-mortal world.
With this accomplished, David is able to forcibly bypass the resurrection protocols to bring himself back. His presence reduces Charles to a simpering fool, powerless to stop his son despite very much wanting to for fear of what David’s considerable abilities could do to this new kingdom. Quinn allows Charles some dignity with physicality that doesn’t quite reveal his distress, leaving that work instead to Clayton Cowles’ letters. Legion’s thought balloons are punctuated with weighted words, and the balloons themselves often dominate the panel or even sit on top of other characters’ words. “No, I don’t trust you,” he says, cutting off the likes of Magneto with a dismissive tone that you can almost hear as you read the words. In contrast, Charles snivels with stammered words and text that shrinks in size as he tries to reason with his son.
Interestingly, one of Legion’s abilities is precognition which, though not mentioned in this issue, will surely play a role as we move forward, especially given David’s connections to Destiny whom he murdered for the very same reasons that Charles is keeping her off of the resurrection protocols list.
Other notable beats in this issue include a moment between Loa and Pixie where Loa displays an interest in another character that strongly hints at queerness. Will this be followed through on? Or is Marvel just checking boxes as usual? Also of note, having met this character for the first time, I am disappointed but unsurprised by Loa’s characterization and appearance. Much darker when she first appeared, she is now a very pale redhead. I was also confused by her name, which brings to mind Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo. A quick search tells me the character was named after Mauna Loa, where “Mauna” means “mountain” in Hawaiian and “Loa” means “long” … which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with who she is or her powers…?
But speaking of long, Lost makes an appearance again here, with Nightcrawler once again in too much of a hurry to hear her out. His continued dismissal of the character is clearly going to come back and haunt him, especially given how poorly he served her in the previous issue when she needed his help. Not a good start for a priest-type thinking about guiding a new flock.
The issue also points out the ways in which David’s mental health and neurodivergence have caused him to suffer horrendous abuse and neglect, even and especially at the hands of those who have made it their mission to help others. He has learned that the only way to survive is to help himself, but he does understand that he needs others to accomplish this. And, while he wraps his arms around a bewildered Kurt’s shoulders and steers him onto a path seemingly of David’s choosing, Si Spurrier’s writing skillfully crafts the beginning of a proverbial beautiful relationship.