There are things that lurk in dark places and prey on humanity. There is a protector though, someone who can travel to these dark places with just a thought and bring these monsters into the light. That champion is Kurt Wagner AKA Nightcrawler, the teleporting member of the X-Men and star of his own ongoing series by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Darick Robertson. This Wednesday “Nightcrawler” teleports back into comic stores after a three-month hiatus with issue #7. CBR News spoke with Sacasa about the series, which explores some of the darker corners of the Marvel Universe.
It’s not only Nightcrawler’s mutant ability that helps him confront the supernatural mysteries he faces in his solo book, but his personality as well. Sacasa sees the character as sort of the conscience of the X-Men. “He’s a little more philosophical than some of the X-Men,” Sacasa told CBR News. “He’s a little more introspective. He has a huge sense of empathy with people who are unfortunate and outsiders. He really feels for them. He is a deeply spiritual person.”
For new readers looking to pick up “Nightcrawler,” Wednesday’s issue #7 is an ideal place to start. “Issue 7 starts a story line called ‘The Winding Way’ which will be kind of an examination/inquiry into Nightcrawler’s origins,” Sacasa said. “It’s sort of a mystery as well. All the hints, all the clues, all the tools you need to understand the story are in the story.”
“The Winding Way” will illuminate the occasional glimpses into Nightcrawler’s past that readers were given in the pages of the X-Men books. “For instance in ‘Giant Size X-Men,’ Xavier rescues Kurt from an angry mob that’s chasing him, but we don’t know the full story behind that,” Sacasa explained. “So, in ‘The Winding Way,’ we’re going to revisit some of those episodes and kind of unpack them and try to flesh them out a little bit, while a story line in the present is happening. So it’s not going to be set in the past. It’s a story set in the present that forces Kurt to reexamine his past.”
|“Nightcrawler” #7, Page 10|
Issue #7 of “Nightcrawler” will retain the books supernatural mystery feel, but it will differ slightly from the book’s two previous story arcs. “It’s going to have a similar tone and there are definitely horrific things that happen in it. But it’s going to be a little less ‘in this issue Kurt deals with demons’ and ‘in this issue Kurt deals with ghosts.’ It’s really going to be very specific to Kurt and it’s going to have hints about why he was involved in those first two mysteries,” Sacasa stated. “In other words, the demons from the first story arc and the ghosts from the second arc are not necessarily unrelated events.”
Nightcrawler will encounter some old time Marvel villains as he travels “The Winding Way.” “Some of the more monstrous kinds of villains and some of the more supernatural villains, but you will see super villains in it. Some of which Kurt has met in the past and some of which he has not met in the past.”
Helping Nightcrawler deal with the dangers and revelations made in “The Winding Way” will be his “family,” the X-Men. “One of [Nightcrawler’s] closest friends is Wolverine. As you know from his Weapon X past, if anyone understands the need to go and revisit where you are from it’s Wolverine. So he will feature in ‘The Winding Way,'” Sacasa explained. “As well as in a lesser supporting role Emma Frost, who is one of my favorite X-Men and Scott who is also one of my favorite X-Men. We also see Beast and Iceman in the first part as well.”
Christine Palmer, a character that Sacasa reintroduced to Marvel readers in “Nightcrawler” #1, will continue to be part of the book’s supporting cast. “Christine is. of course, an old Marvel character called the Night Nurse and I was a huge fan of that series,” Sacasa said. “When I realized that the first story line was going to be set in a hospital, I was like, ‘Oh we have to bring the Night Nurse back.’ Then that little sexual tension starts to develop and then in issue six Kurt and her decided they were just going to be friends but as I was writing issue seven I realized Christine was still there. She was in it. So, she is still, around even as a friend. Although I think the sexual tension continues.”
|“Nightcrawler” #7, Page 15|
Christine Palmer isn’t the only supporting character giving Nightcrawler unsure romantic feelings. There is sexual tension between him and his fellow teammate Storm and his step-sister/ex-girlfriend, the powerful sorceress, Amanda Sefton.
Another character from Nightcrawler’s past that will play a role in “The Winding Way” is Amanda’s mother and Kurt’s foster mother Margali Szardos, who is also a sorceress. Her power rivals Marvel’s Maser of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange.
“The Winding Way” will set the stage for an even bigger story in “Nightcrawler.” “We’ll maybe show that what’s been happening has not been necessarily isolated events, but only the first sort of tremors of something much bigger that’s coming,” Sacasa explained.
Sacasa said that readers could look forward to a team up between Nightcrawler and a Marvel superhero that is not a member of the X-Men in issue 12. He did not want to reveal which hero though.
Another major character that appears in both “Nightcrawler” and Sacasa’s other Marvel book, “4,” is the city of New York, where both books are primarily set and the city that Sacasa calls home. “What I love about the Marvel characters is they’re in New York. This is a real living, breathing city that has its own character. Its neighborhoods are very different. I love that. I think it’s the greatest landscape. In ‘Nightcrawler’ [issues 5-6] the subway is celebrating it’s 100 year anniversary. It was happening at the same time I was writing those issues. In an issue of ‘4’ that I’m writing, Sue goes out clubbing with a bunch of her super gal pals. So I called my friend. I was like, ‘Okay where’s the hot club, where Sue Richards would go clubbing?’ It’s a club called Duvet in the Flat Iron district. So that’s what’s in the book. In a weird way ‘4’ and ‘Nightcrawler’ are a love letter to New York.”
|“Nightcrawler” #7, Page 17|
Another New York land mark that figured prominently in the first story arc of “Nightcrawler” was the apartment complex, The Dakota. “The Dakota is one of my favorite buildings and obviously that’s an homage to ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ which is set in the Dakota,” Sacasa stated. “Darick did photo reference on that. Darick used to live in New York so he knows the city very well.”
Working with artist Darick Robertson on “Nightcrawler” has been a great experience for Sacasa. “When I first started out with ‘Nightcrawler’ what was huge was that Darick Robertson was drawing it, because not only is he a huge Nightcrawler fan, but I’m a huge fan of his art,” Sacasa explained. “I can’t imagine the book being drawn by anyone but him. He’s got a million ideas and he’s great.”
Sacasa thinks that horror fans should be checking out “Nightcrawler.” “I would recommend it to people who are fans of very moody evocative art with terrific story telling skills which is what Darick provides,” Sacasa stated. “For people who were, ‘This isn’t about Kurt specifically. It’s just a ghost story,’ I would say come back for issue seven, its all about Kurt.”
Since he began working on “Nightcrawler,” Sacasa discovered that the character is has a loyal, passionate fan base. “[The fans] have been great. They really support the book. I really appreciate that,” Sacasa said. “I read all the stuff they post on those pages. It’s really gratifying that the fans are out there and they’ve waited these three months for issue #7 to come out. So I’m really grateful for that. I’m really glad Marvel decided to keep the book going as well.”