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Remember When Nightcrawler Was a Monster?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Remember When Nightcrawler Was a Monster?

In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at odd comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.

Today we look at a brief period where Nightcrawler’s monstrous looks actually played a role in how he fit into the X-Men.

When Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced Nightcrawler, he was being chased down in a scene straight out of “Frankenstein”…

Now, clearly, the intent by Wein and Cockrum (Cockrum had created Nightcrawler earlier as part of a pitch to DC Comics for a Legion of Superheroes character) was that Nightcrawler was a good, decent person who just happened to look like a demon.

However, a conflict arose a few years later in between Chris Claremont (who had taken over from Wein as the writer on the series) and John Byrne (who had taken over from Cockrum as the artist on the series and eventually became the main plotter on the series, as well) over just how Nightcrawler should be handled. Obviously, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Cyclops had all served with Nightcrawler for some time by this point and were used to Kurt and knew what to expect. However, a new member had joined the team, the teenaged Kitty Pryde and Byrne had an issue with Kitty also being on the same level as the others. It was something that Roger Stern had complained about to Byrne earlier, about how we always talk about how people fear mutants, but here’s a guy who actively looks like a demon and everyone treats that like it is no big deal. So Byrne argued that Kitty Pryde should be scared of Nightcrawler, and that’s what happened in “X-Men” #139 (by Byrne, Claremont and Terry Austin)…

However, Byrne then left the book just four issues later, and sure enough, with Cockrum back on the book, Kitty got over her issues in “Uncanny X-Men” #148 after seeing how people treated Caliban poorly for looking like a monster (thanks to my pal Michael F. for telling me about this one, I totally missed it at first since it was buried in a caption like an afterthought)…

and by “Uncanny X-Men” #153 (by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Joe Rubinstein), Kitty is already writing Nightcrawler as the lovable “Bamf” in her fairy tale story she’s telling Illyana (by the way, why is Kitty having a “naughty” dream in the fairy tales she’s telling a little girl? How weird is that?)…

I’m not saying that the Byrne/Stern view of the situation was the correct one, but it’s just interesting to see how it WAS the direction they were headed in before Byrne left the book and they abruptly went away from that approach.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a little-remembered short-lived comic book plot point, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com and maybe I’ll feature it in a future installment of If I Pass This Way Again!

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