A lot of information was revealed at various panels over the course of SDCC this last week, and we’re still trying to both collect it all together as well as absorb it ourselves as lovers of the medium! One of the big pieces of Marvel news is that fan favorite Kurt Wagner (a.k.a. Nightcrawler) will be returning to the Marvel Universe after an absence due to a severe case of death. But this only proves that if you wear an X on your uniform and your name is not Thunderbird you will eventually return.
Nightcrawler first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1 as part of the “All-New” team which also featured such iconic characters as Wolverine, Storm and Colossus. He was a mainstay of the team for a number of years. When injured during the “Mutant Massacre”, he was not with the team when they supposedly perished during the “Fall of the Mutants” but then, along with Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers, proceeded to found the British team Excalibur alongside Captain Britain and Meggan. Eventually, Kurt returned to the X-Men and we saw him as the most spiritual of the team, even when confronted with the fact that his father, Azazel, was himself a more demonic mutant. Kurt came to embody physical characteristics of both of his parents – the look of the demonic Azazel but the coloring of his mother, Raven “Mystique” Darkholme.
Nightcrawler was killed in action during the “Second Coming” storyline several years back, which was an arc that was centered around Hope Summers (to clarify, this was the Hope Summers arc that did not include the Phoenix or the Avengers). Since then, we’ve seen the Nightcrawler from the Age of Apocalypse storyline join the Astonishing X-Men title and team, but it was not the same. We’ve seen a number of BAMFs hanging around the Jean Grey school, but it still was not Kurt. The X-Treme X-Men had a young Kurt Waggoner traveling with them but he sacrificed his life during the final issues of that series. So although we’ve had various incarnations of the furry elf, we’ve not had the real deal return… until now.
This November, spawning out of the “Battle of the Atom” story arc that comes to print soon, we will see Wagner return in an all-new series, Amazing X-Men. The story will be written by Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men) and contain art from Ed McGuinness (Nova, Hulk). This will be a book that runs in parallel to Wolverine and the X-Men, but Aaron promises that this series will be more like the X-Men adventures of old, with more action and not focusing exclusively around the school. The premise of the first arc will be to assist Wagner who is still lingering within the afterlife but needs help to take on the forces of his father, Azazel. A new X-Men team is formed to take this on consisting of Wolverine, Storm, Iceman, Beast, Northstar and new X-member Firestar, formerly of the New Warriors and the Avengers. (I believe this is also the first time that both Iceman and Firestar will be on the same team for a period of time, which leads me to wonder if Spider-Man will stop by at some point and maybe we get a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends reunion? Although that could be quite strange considering who wears the spider costume these days…)
We can probably assume that we will see a fair amount of crossover between Aaron’s 2 X-books, just as we see with Bendis crossing over his 2 X-books as well, so we’ll see what he can pull off. But, by the sound of things, this has been a long time coming as the BAMFs that have been lingering around the Jean Grey school since day 1 have been a precursor to what we can expect here. If you’ve read my reviews of the Wolverine and the X-Men title you know that I have not been too impressed in the past but have absolutely loved the recent story arc, so I’m hoping that the energy that Aaron has put into the recent issues will cross over to this series! My only hope is that after Kurt returns we see him take over leadership of the team, as Wolverine is in far too many titles already and Kurt has the leadership chops after his stint in Excalibur. OK, we’ll let him come to terms with coming back to life first but then it would be great to see him here again… or at least a new X-Men: Liberators miniseries with our classic trio of All-New members returning for a new hurrah!