The Once and Future Nightcrawler

Wolverine and the X-Men 32When I decided to get back into comics, I immediately went one place. I looked up my favorite character, Nightcrawler. A great character in my youth, reading Excalibur until it ended… A great character in Ultimate X-Men, where he is a product of the Weapon X project… A great character in the video games, where he can practically solo bosses…

So I returned to the Marvel Universe to find that Nightcrawler died.

I’d like to do a character study of Nightcrawler, but there’s a lot of history there. Like with Wolverine, I think I will focus mainly on lately in the comics, and about what Marvel has done with my hopes and dreams around this character.

And believe it or not, spoilers to follow!

A Character Study of Nightcrawler

I don’t know if I can pin down what I like so much about Nightcrawler, but he has a lot of outstanding (as in, they stand out) qualities to him. But I don’t know whether I like teleportation and thus like Nightcrawler because of it, or like Nightcrawler and it leads to me liking teleportation…

But I find myself playing Nightcrawler whenever I can in video games: in the old X-Men arcade game (a classic I am so happy they’ve brought back on recent systems – X-Box Arcade and iOS, anyway), in X-Men Legends… and then in other games, I find myself tending towards teleportation: In Diablo 3, or even in Dungeons and Dragons (where I am playing an Eladrin Swordmage… if you look it up, I’m pretty sure the definition is teleporting swordsman AKA Nightcrawler).

I digress. Teleportation would be my answer for superpower I would want if I could have one, and I don’t know if it’s cause or effect from liking Nightcrawler. But it’s such an iconic part of the comics then – the “Bamf” and how Nightcrawler functions.

But then, character-wise, Nightcrawler stands out for other things – like how he looks, and his religious beliefs. These tie together a lot – his demonic look juxtaposed with his faith. He defies expectations and first impressions. This makes him function as a Mutant far better than the characters who can “pass” for human. And, despite all the craziness that happens in the Marvel Universe, despite aliens and cosmic powers and the rest, Nightcrawler has faith.

At many points, Nightcrawler seems to be the token person of faith in the Marvel Universe. But that doesn’t decrease the power of it, or its authenticity. He has been feared and hated – and has forgiven.

But then, more than that, the acceptance he gets with the X-Men – where his nickname is Elf, not blue devil or something like that. Elf, for mysterious, wise, and generally good.

Nightcrawler on Screen

There’s not much to add about Nightcrawler in the movies I haven’t already said. They used him for all of his great characteristics: he stands out as a mutant, he teleports (amazingly, making one of the best movie openings ever), his faith, and he was just great. Alan Cumming did a good job with the character, though I imagine the makeup was a pain.

Sadly, it sounds like they are not working him into Days of Future Past – even though they worked Azazel into First Class. They have a huge number of actors coming together for this film, so I can understand not getting everyone, but boy, I would have loved future Nightcrawler fighting Sentinels. Of course, with their continuity, young Nightcrawler wouldn’t make sense. So oh well.

Slightly more awkwardly, is he going to be conceived at some point in the film?

Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler: Uncanny X-Force

So, the main Marvel Universe had Nightcrawler die years ago in the comics. But the Marvel multiverse contains other Nightcrawlers. So when I got back into comics, I started reading Uncanny X-Force. I found this comic precisely because I saw Nightcrawler.

Nightcrawler from the Age of Apocalypse.

Uncanny X-Force 33Now there was an interesting character. It played with the religious aspects of Nightcrawler. Really, I would say this is a Nightcrawler for whom the devil is personified: and that person is Apocalypse. And so people who work with Apocalypse are evil, and ones who deal with him have made a deal with the devil. And these things are harder to forgive.

He’s a darker, more vicious character. With a skillset which can clearly lend itself towards assassination. So he fits in with the Uncanny X-Force perfectly. He has moments where he is the last man standing and has to save everyone else. Not surprising to me…

But then, Uncanny X-Force came to an end, and it was like, okay, there’s a Nightcrawler hanging around out there…

X-Treme X-Men

Another comic I got into because of Nightcrawler alone was X-Treme X-Men. In this multiverse-exploring group, there was a Nightcrawler – a kid Nightcrawler, last survivor of a world taken over by alien robots. So young, tech genius Nightcrawler, a character ready to bring whole new groups of young people to the fandom of Nightcrawler.

TL;DR.

TL;DR.

X-Termination

X-Termination 1And then, they took all my reading and dashed it upon the ground. I’ve talked about this before, and it spawned a whole search for new comics to read. This crossover event closed out the short-run Age of Apocalypse comic (which did not contain Nightcrawler, because he was no longer in the Age of Apocalypse) as well as X-Treme X-Men. So, it pulled together both Nightcrawlers into one event, but also closed out the comics they were in.

So, it was bound to be awesome, right? Leave us with some badass Nightcrawlers around?

Not so. Nope, two Nightcrawlers, and two Nightcrawlers die. Their sacrifices effectively save the multiverse from crazy enemies (or creations?) of the Celestials. So, fighting opponents well beyond their power level. But teleportation is the best, and can be used to hold the universe together. It is known.

But really? Two dead Nightcrawlers? Why would you do this to me? Three Nightcrawlers, all dead. Another sort of person, or perhaps me without a blog to write about it in, would have walked back away from comics. Well, Nightcrawler fans, I bring you hope. I bring you spoilers from Wolverine and the X-Men.

A World Full of Bamfs: Wolverine and The X-Men

From here, I don’t have the answers. In a plot that they seem to be sneaking to us, bit by bit, over the course of the entire run of Wolverine and the X-Men – are they bringing back Nightcrawler? Should be at 3 years, now, of this comic.

And in the very first comic, they get infested with Bamfs – little gremlin-like creatures that look just like Nightcrawler. And a few comics on, we get this moment:

Definitely Not Bamfs

Definitely don’t look like Bamfs? What do they look like, then? Nightcrawler? We don’t know the answer!

At the end of the nest story-arc, then, we find out who was behind at least some of the madness going on:

Azazel Has Come

Azazel, father of Nightcrawler, fully evil devil, and his gang of red Bamfs. And, apparently, new lord of Heaven, and new king of Hell? This seems like quite a bit the Big Bad for Wolverine and the X-Men, who have in three years only barely moved past fighting the young Hellfire Club. Something far darker is underlying what is going on, and Azazel seems to be it. After all, we get insights like this:

What the Bamfs Saw

Here Kid Omega gets into the mind of a Bamf – and here we see the influence of Azazel coming in, and evil and dark rituals. Have the blue Bamfs been infiltrated by the red? Are they mixed? Are they one and the same? Are they a hive mind of sorts? I don’t know!

And then, at the end of the most recent plot, my eyes went wide:

It's Time to Come Back Now

A character who was nearly killed, and who lost his mind, comes back – and it’s the Bamfs who get him there, who save him. Well, the Bamfs, and a guardian angel. So I was like, wow, that’s amazing, who’s good Bamf king guy?

I mean, really, David? Think, McFly!

To Save a Dead Man

It brought a tear to my eye. He’s dead, but not gone. He’s watching over them. He works through the Bamfs. The Bamfs who helped lead Wolverine to the children to save them. The Bamfs who seem to be in a strange conflict with Azazel, the evil one.

We’re set for an amazing future plot, and the return of Nightcrawler!

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10 responses to “The Once and Future Nightcrawler

  1. Although I don’t generally read many superhero comics, and rarely read mainstream DC or Marvel titles (the vast amount of backstory is always off-putting to me), there are certain characters and story arcs that I enjoy. Nightcrawler has always been one of my favourite X-men, mostly for the same reasons you mentioned above. I like Beast for much the same reason, because his mutation literally means he cannot just pass for human.

    Even though I don’t read keep up with the series, I will often buy specific story arcs. House of M and Days of Future Past would be my favourite Marvel ones, with The Age of Apocalypse being up there as well. I’ll have to find some more collected editions featuring Nightcrawler after reading this. I wasn’t even aware of the kid Nightcrawler in X-Treme X-Men, definitely going to check that out.

    When it comes to my normal reading material though, I range from series about anti-heroes (The Darkness is a personal favourite here) and some comedy (I can’t get enough of Atomic Robo) to the darker sides of DC, the Vertigo imprint. Stories like The Sandman, Preacher and 100 Bullets have always got my attention. I’ve also found that Boom and Dynamite have being doing some surprisingly good stuff in the last few years. The Boys is currently vying with Preacher for place as absolute favourite comic ever.

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  2. Definitely check out X-Treme X-Men, it was a lot of fun in its 13 short issues.

    I grew up within the universe continuity, so I am kind of only just working on breaking out of it. I have followed one my new favorite authors out into the unknown, so I am reading some Jonathan Hickman. Right now, I am reading the Manhattan Projects, recommended by a reader here on the blog, and I have to say, I am thoroughly creeped out – I believe exactly how the writer wanted me to be.

    I’ve also recently had 100 Bullets recommended to me, so will have to give that a look. 100 comics for 100 Bullets to tell 100 tales.

    And I’ve always wanted to read Sandman, I think now it’s really just a case of finding the best way to get my hands on it. One of the things I love right now is how accessible comics are on mobile devices, so I read most of my comics now on my iPad. Probably a bad thing – they make them so easy to buy…

    We also decided to give Saga a look, after it won all sorts of awards, and beat out Holly’s new favorite, Hawkeye! Check out her comments on Hawkeye here: https://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/hawkeye-comic-series/

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  5. Omg… I stopped reading X-men when Nightcrawler died… So it was by pure coincidence that I heard that they were going bring him back in an all new X-Men comic (Amazing X-men). I’ve been looking forward to the first issue for months, longing for everybody’s fuzzy blue elf to return. However, I had NO idea that they were building up to this plot for so long! These pictures you’re displaying here… It’s the first time I ever see them. I’ve already read the Amazing X-Men #1, and I loved it. But seeing these things, Azazel’s red bamfs, the white robe, the Bamfs at the institute… So many things makes a lot more sense now. I just wish I’ve could have been part of this from the beginning. Watching every piece of the puzzle falling in place, and finally realizing with hope that Nightcrawler is coming back. ❤

    Everything you express here in your text is like reading my own mind. This is great! Thank you so much for writing this and for sharing these pictures. 🙂

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