R.I. P. Kurt Wagner. We’ll miss you. The X-men won’t be the same without the fury blue elf known as Nightcrawler. Priest or pirate, fiend or friend, Nightcrawler has been ‘Bamfing” on and off comic book pages since Giant-Size X-men #1, only to come to an end at the hand (literally) of Bastion in X-force #26.
I’ll admit it. I was angry while reading the issue. Angry because he
died. Angry at the way he died and angry that I saw it coming a mile away. Months in advance, the teaser images told us “One Will Die!” and though I hopes and prayed for a death that would change the status quo (Cyclops preferably) logic told me it would be a fan favourite, but one who wouldn’t entirely be missed.
But who could it be?
Angel was dealing with his Archangel status (again). Gambit’s Apocalypse/Death story line from a few years back seems to be finally getting explained. Magneto just returned. Emma has a Namor sub-plot. Rogue gained control of her powers and has been pulled back into a leadership position. With Kitty’s recent return and constant state of phase it would be overkill to off Colossus now. So who does that leave? In my mind it was narrowed down to two: the ill-fated Nightcrawler and fury blue pal Beast. Both are beloved characters and have graced the pages for decades. Both would give the emotional impacted needed in a well publicized death. Sure they could kill off one of the New Mutants or Young X-men, but how many people batted an eyelash over the death of Sammy the Squid-boy (Do you even remember Squid-boy?). Most importantly, in recent years Nightcrawler and Beast haven’t…well…done anything.
Yes, Beast started the Science Team and worked on the “No More Mutant Problem” in the back matter of a hard to follow cross-over. But he didn’t fix the problem and the Science Team works just fine without him. He’s still part of the Astonishing X-men but usually relegated to the background or a foil to Wolverine. As if to prove my point, Hank McCoy walked up to Cyclops in the pages of Uncanny and resigned. Things were looking bleak for the big blue cat until the promotional material for the Avengers titles surfaced. With all signs pointing to Hank rejoining his former teammates ( catch Beast in Secret Avengers #1, on sale now), Nightcrawler’s days were all but numbered.
Honestly, What has Nightcrawler done lately? I have no idea. For the life of me I can’t remember a single significant storyline since the poorly received Draco. What team is he on? What books was he in? I’d guess Uncanny but it would be just that, a guess. He’s been sitting in the shadows for too long. Nearly a Guarantee he would meet his end in Second Coming.
Did I like my conclusion? No. I’d rather they kill someone I hadn’t grown up with, Like Cannonball, of Jubilee, of Pixie (for the love god, please kill pixie). Still, a poetic death could make up for it. Good deaths can define a character, Like Jean (before she came back) and Colossus (before he came back). They sacrificed themselves to same humanity. But we didn’t get that with Nightcrawler. We got an accident-The same accident he has been avoiding since his creation. Yes folks, He teleported without looking both ways and materialized inside a solid object, Bastion’s outstretched arm. His intentions were good. He did teleport to save Hope, and yes, he did use his remaining strength to teleport her back to Utopia. That doesn’t cut it for me; Unlike Jean and Colossus, there was no choice in his sacrifice. He didn’t risk his life (anymore than any other superhero doing their job) and by the expression on Bastion’s face, there was no actual attempt to kill him. There was no fight, no battle, only a mistake. What makes it worse is that we’ve seen the X-men survive worse (excluding Banshee, who was hit by a plane). The entire X-mean was stabbed through the chest in Whedon’s Astonishing X-men and were back up fighting in the next issue. Healers can do amazing things when the story calls for it. I guess Nightcrawler wasn’t worth the trouble.
The death of Nightcrawler and the departure of Beast leaves a blue, fury, hole in the X-men line-up and I for one feel a little blue because of it.