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CSBG Archive

The Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – N

We continue our tour through the alphabet, with a different cool comic book item each day, from A to Z!

Today we look at a cool member of the X-Men!

(NOTE: I wrote the following for CBR’s Top 50 X-Men Countdown)

Kurt Wagner was orphaned by his mother as an infant. Taken in by Margali Szardos, a witch, Kurt is raised as a gypsy. He eventually becomes a popular circus performer, but when he is forced to kill his adopted brother, Stefan, Kurt is hunted by the village people, who only see a monster killing a human. Saved by Professor Xavier, Kurt gladly takes Xavier up on his offer to come to America and join the X-Men.

Kurt becomes a stalwart member of the X-Men after that, staying with the team for quite some time, on many adventures, using his agility and teleportation powers to help the team in many fights.

What was notable about Kurt was that, despite his monstrous appearance, he was pretty happy-go-lucky, but even he often had problems, mostly ones about his own competence, which he doubted frequently (“Am I good enough?” etc.).

In fact, it was his feelings of inadequacy that, during the Mutant Massacre, caused him to use his powers beyond their limits, leaving him open for a brutal assault by one of the Marauders.

Kurt and Kitty Pryde (who as also injured) ended up joining a new team, Excalibur, when they thought that the X-Men had been killed. Kurt’s confidence grew a lot as a member of Excalibur.

Eventually, though, the team broke up, and Kurt re-joined the X-Men, where he has stayed ever since.

After a time on the loser squad (where Kurt also began to question his confidence, especially due to his involvement in one of the stupidest evil plans ever, involving the Raptu…no, I won’t even dignify it with a recap – same thing with Racoday)…

Kurt joined the XSE, who were basically X-Men who were sanctioned to work anywhere in the world as superheroes.

Kurt stayed on this team (even becoming the default leader) until Professor Xavier asked him to go on a mission into outer space. When the man who saved you from a pack of murderous villagers asks you for a favor, it’s kinda hard to turn down, so Kurt gladly accepted.

While half of the team that went into outer space were Lost in Space ™, Kurt returned to Earth with Xavier.

Professor X and Cyclops were not in a good place in their relationship at this point in time, so Professor X needed someone else to help him go look for Magneto, and, let’s face it, Kurt had no other plans, so he helped Professor X search for Magneto.

Then Messiah Complex hit, and Kurt is, well, I dunno, a member of the X-Men, I suppose.

And he’s religious.

Not really much going on in the House of Wagner.

26 Comments

Kurt, my favourite All New X-man, and he needs to be given a higher profile, At one point it looked like he could be the break out. I think he had a spider-man team up before that horrible short little man.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 20, 2009 at 5:23 am

Isn’t he a priest, now?

Nightcrawler’s the reason I read the X-Men. Which means I skip a lot of issues. Here’s hoping they don’t go back to that priest debacle.

My all-time favorite X-Man, the best part of the X-Movies, and one of the few openly religious comics characters who’s not a psychotic mess.

Thanks, Brian.

I don’t often think about it, but if I had to choose a favorite mutant, it would be Herr Vagner. Maybe because he was “hunted by the Village People.”

And agreed, iirc, Kurt as Pope was a dumb storyline. That nearly ruined the character as badly as Alan Cummings depiction.

I think Kurt’s devout Christianity made him a pretty interesting character in the original Claremont X-Men. Wasn’t there some issue where he had a crisis of faith after having met The Beyonder in Secret Wars? You’d think it would be pretty hard to remain a Christian when you meet god-like beings and actual gods on a monthly basis…

Was the question of Kurt’s relationship to Mystique ever resolved? I remember Claremont dropping some heavy hints that she is actually his mother, but by the time I stopped reading X-Men in the early 1990s that question was still unanswered.

It frustrates me to no end when they play up the religion and downplay the awesome swashbuckling.

“That nearly ruined the character as badly as Alan Cummings’ depiction.”

Um, are you insane? Alan Cummings was the best thing about X2.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightcrawler_(comics)

Veteran X-Men writer Chris Claremont had intended for the mutant terrorist Mystique and her lover Destiny to have been Nightcrawler’s biological parents. Mystique, being a shape-shifter, would have taken the form of a man and impregnated Destiny. Marvel, however, felt the idea to be too controversial, and an alternative origin was developed.

After hinting for many years that Mystique was indeed Nightcrawler’s biological mother, it was confirmed by writer Chuck Austen. In 2003, it was revealed that although Mystique was married to a wealthy German, Herr Wagner, Nightcrawler’s father was Azazel, a member of a race of demonic-looking mutants dating back to Biblical times who were banished to another dimension by another race of angelic mutants. The storyline was furthered by the revelation that fellow X-Man Archangel’s healing blood did not heal Nightcrawler, and in fact caused him great pain.

Never really got the appeal of Nightcrawler, for some reason. I don’t actively dislike the character, but I’m not particularly fond of him either. Maybe its the fact that writers have highlighted his religion as of late, something I personally find unappealing and less-than-compelling.

Whoa, Claremont’s original origin story would’ve been pretty cool, but I can imagine it would’ve raised some eyebrows back in the 1980s.

It sounds totally like an idea Morrison might’ve used in New X-Men though, too bad he didn’t have Nightcrawler in that book.

@Matt D

Seconded.

Ack, wrong button, I wasn’t finished.

I was going to say that while I don’t mind the religious aspect, I find differing writers’ handling of it to often be often heavyhanded or contradictory and all in all a real mess to what could have been an interesting facet of the character.

The swashbuckling aspect is what drew me to the character in the first place, the jovial and theatrical attitude. Quite refreshing and fun.

Um, are you insane? Alan Cummings was the best thing about X2.

I don’t think it was Alan Cummings fault at all. Despite occasionally questioning his abilities, Kurt has by and large carried himself as a confident person in the comics. Cumming’s Nightcrawler, as I remember him, was a hunched over, head bobbing caricature. He was more a comic book character than a movie character. Maybe I need to watch X2 again, but the few times I have, the scenes where he’s not bamfing are not fun for me to watch.

I understand, he’s a very different character in the movie as a Weapon X product, or however that worked. I think the best things about his character in the movie were as much the special effects as the actor.

Kurt effectively got a whole episode of Wolverine and the X-Men to himself, which was pretty biased (he beat Spiral and the Reavers by himself, saved a sinking ship full of mutant refugees AND taught some mutant kids a lesson in selfsteem!) but, since he was his old, FUN self through much of it, I didn’t care. Nice flashback to back when X-Men (and comics in general) were fun just for its own sake. Too bad Nightcrawler isn’t a regular character in the show (yet) but it was a nice change of pace, and I’m sure we’ll see him again later.

Mike Loughlin

May 20, 2009 at 8:08 am

My favorite X-Man, hands down, maybe my favorite Marvel character.

Alan Davis’ solo run on Excalibur made Kurt a favorite. He had the character grow into his role as a leader, and put him at the forefront of the stories. If I had my way, Alan Davis would write and pencil a Nightcrawler series in which he travels the globe, getting into trouble in various exotic locales Indiana Jones-style. He’d be on the trail of some McGuffin or another, I guess. I’d just like to see Nightcrawler doing more swashbuckling, less hanging around in the background.

Is there a reason why there is no list connecting to all of the whole Alphabet of Cool to date?

And why did Nightcrawler turn to the cloth? That’s right, Clay Quartermain.

Right after GammaGate, Kurt was inspired by his openness and honesty, and “Came out” wth his religious views.

That’s why “Q” is for Quartermain (and his ret-conned ancestor, Allan)

Over to you, Mr Ryan…
;-)

Surprised nobody has mentioned this, but the name “Nightcrawler” is nowhere in the actual article which is funny because the name is the reason why the article was written.

” Kurt effectively got a whole episode of Wolverine and the X-Men to himself, which was pretty biased (he beat Spiral and the Reavers by himself, saved a sinking ship full of mutant refugees AND taught some mutant kids a lesson in selfsteem!) but, since he was his old, FUN self through much of it, I didn’t care. Nice flashback to back when X-Men (and comics in general) were fun just for its own sake. Too bad Nightcrawler isn’t a regular character in the show (yet) but it was a nice change of pace, and I’m sure we’ll see him again later. ”

That was a great episode, even if Kurt’s voice sounded quite a bit like the VA ( Liam O’Brian’s ) Gaara from the Naruto dub using a German accent. Not that Kurt has any interest in serial killing via large amounts of sand.

But unfortunately, that episode illustrates the problem with Kurt– he’s an incredible cool character, but he doesn’t get much depth. Aside from the embarassing Popecrawler business, Kurt hasn’t had anything major happen to him in years; he’s still the cool, well-mannered fencer he was in his debut, without substantial character development. Even the 80’s story about his Beyonder-induced loss of faith was resolved in one issue of swashbuckling antics…

Mike Loughlin

May 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Nitz – in Alan Davis’ issues, Kurt confronted his self-doubts, found several solutions to interesting problems, and remained his swashbuckling, good-humored self throughout. Unfortunately, there was very little follow-up after that (1992-4). Warren Ellis gave him a few good moments, Kelly & Seagle had a decent handle on his character, Claremont gave him a few scenes of note at the beginning of his 2000 run (after about 3 issues, I stopped reading, so maybe there were more) and he had a few notable appearances in X-Men Unlimited.

After that, Casey gave him a spotlight issue that didn’t work for me, there was a forgettable mini-series, Kurt was stuck with Chuck Austen, and he had a poor-selling solo comic. He’s had very little to do since. I think he could work as a solo character removed from the X-Men, as long as he has a good writer.

To me, the X2 Nightcrawler was serviceable, but not the best representation of the character. He needed to be younger, handsomer, more dashing…and not look like a street person.

Definitely my favourite of the X-Men. I can’t fathom for the life if me what Austen was trying to do with the character. The fact he looks like a demon was enough to get story ideas from. Alan Davis did give him a lot of depth in his run on the book, Ellis did some new things, but then we had Ben Raab take over (shudders).

Andy

Y’know, Quasar can teleport, too. Tecyhnically he’s opening a portal to the quantum zone, and then opening another one to wherever else he wants to be, and since the Quantum Zone is so small he can go from any place on earth to any other like that. And he could give himself a yellow tail if he wanted. And three-fingered gloves.

I don’t often think about it, but if I had to choose a least favorite Marvel character, I’m really leaning towards Quasar now.

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