In my review of "Thieves Gambit," last week's episode of Wolverine and the X-Men, I criticized the show for brushing over a potentially fascinating philosophical question surrounding the creation of a power-inhibiting collar in favor of a heaping serving of straightforward (and ultimately under whelming) action. As far as I'm concerned, the X-Men work best when writers take the time to explore character development and all the rich moral questions inherent to the property in the midst of the requisite fisticuffs, and I felt last week's episode included several critical missed opportunities. Thankfully, that's not the case at all with this week's "X-Calibre," a story that offers up the perfect mix of character study, action, enticing dramatic themes and very entertaining plot developments.
Though it includes a couple of brief appearances by Wolverine and his slowly growing roster of X-Men, "X-Calibre" is essentially a starring vehicle for Nightcrawler, who proves to be a wonderful protagonist in the hands of this series' writers. The plot surrounds Nightcrawler's efforts to protect the passengers of one of the many ships smuggling mutants to Genosha, with Kurt using his teleportation powers to stealthily provide the abused mutants food and other such necessities that their transporters have purposefully neglected to provide. When the ship's captain and crew begin throwing passengers overboard in response to the thefts, Nightcrawler springs into action and quickly puts the crew in their place. Unfortunately for Kurt and the rest of the mutant passengers, their victory is quickly interrupted when Spiral and her team of evil cyborgs, the Reavers, suddenly board their ship in hopes of kidnapping mutant gladiators for the monstrous alien Mojo.
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