This week, I want to look at the new run of Nightcrawler by Chris Claremont. It makes sense that it’s Claremont writing it – he’s put decades into the character. Of course, that also means you might not expect to see something new from the comic – but instead more of the same.
Then again, more of the same took a lot of work. When I got back into comics, I found out that my favorite character – Nightcrawler – had died. I wrote about some of the signs they gave about potentially bringing him back. And finally, as talked about here on Sourcerer, Nightcrawler came back!
It happens all the time in comics – the dead character comes back. Clones, time travel, alternate dimensions, never dead in the first place… but in Nightcrawler’s case, he actually and fully died. And went to Heaven. And that’s where the X-Men found him – and brought him back from. That’s all chronicled in Amazing X-Men.
So he’s back, and has a solo comic – something actually pretty rare for the blue elf – and has his old creator back at the helm. What are they up to? Why bring Nightcrawler back? A few thoughts on that and on the comic Nightcrawler!
You Can Never Go Home Again
Oh. Except that you can.
That’s where things start in Nightcrawler. Kurt Wagner’s been dead. Ten years or so in outside world time (so who knows how long in the comics…). And he’s back. So what do you do? What would you do?
He goes looking for old connections, of course. He find Amanda Sefton, his lifelong companion and often lover. That leads them away to their old home, the circus that Nightcrawler was so quick to remind everyone of in X-2. There he is: back home again. The people are still there, and he knows them, but they don’t believe he’s back alive, and it’s full of laughs and happy. And action. And lots of teleporting.
From there, back to the X-Men, where Nightcrawler has to find a home back among his brethren, in a landscape that has changed quite a bit. New school, new headmaster (Wolverine?), and lots of new students.
Oh, and more swashbuckling and teleporting. They definitely know their audience!
It’s 7 issues in so far, and honestly, I don’t know what I think. It feels like a nostalgia ride, like a last hurrah, like a pet project and labor of love for Claremont. It’s some pretty obvious sorts of things that Kurt does once he’s back, some pretty normal sorts of adjustments. And by normal, I mean I’ve seen Buffy: the Vampire Slayer season 6. He was in Heaven!…
But can the comic be more than that? The thing I maybe have to compare it to most is the older run of Nightcrawler, a 12-comic run from before Kurt died. In it, he’s not going around fighting at every chance. He’s investigating a mystery – the sort that seems to follow him around. Demons and magic. Sure, there’s been magic in the new comic, but that older comic had some real twists and was a lot of fun. This is just a stroll down memory lane so far… once that’s done, will it become more? Or will it end, like a lot of one-character comics do?
I have a theory (it could be bunnies! oh, no, not Buffy, sorry), and it has to do with the most recent issue.
The Death of Wolverine
So in case you missed it, Marvel has also been working up to, and ever so slowly completing, the Death of Wolverine. We’ll see how long this lasts – particularly considering how many alternate histories they’ve shown in the comics, with Wolverine still alive in them.
Wolverine and Nightcrawler go way back – both joining the X-Men at the same time, in Giant Sized X-Men #1. They’ve been friends throughout, with Wolverine going through a lot (healing factor gone and all) to get Nightcrawler back among the living. So understandably, it’s hitting Nightcrawler pretty hard that his friend has died.
So there was a comic dedicated to exploring that friendship or, maybe more accurately, reflecting and highlighting greatest hits from Claremont X-Men comics (and Excalibur!). On one hand, this was the most nostalgia-filled issue yet. On the other hand, it ended on a note of needing to move forward. To live a life – after having died once!
I am wondering a bit – did they bring Nightcrawler back to replace Wolverine?
Wolverine was a part of maybe half of the teams in the Marvel universe. I don’t know if I caught how his powers helped him not sleep, but between two Avengers teams, most any X-Men outing, solo adventures (in multiple titles), and the occasional X-Force activity… he’s a busy guy. With him out, that’s a huge hole in a lot of comics.
I doubt one person can fill all of those holes. I bet we’ll see lots of other folks with adamantium or healing around – X-23, Sabertooth, Daken. But on the big teams? With the Avengers, for instance? The Uncanny Avengers, trying to be an image of peaceful cooperation between mutants and humans? The religious, kick-ass, demon-looking-with-a-heart-of-gold Nightcrawler would be a natural addition.
However, I’m not just making this stuff up. I’ve seen him – on the cover of Axis, the newest big crossover event from Marvel. This one’s been a while coming, from the pages of Uncanny Avengers, and I am intrigued but waiting it out. But lo and behold, there’s Nightcrawler, fighting the good fight:
What do you think? Is Nightcrawler going to be something of a Wolverine surrogate with the old man out of the picture? And maybe more importantly, would this make you happy? Sad? Totally indifferent? Let me know in the comments!