Welcome to the five hundred and forty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, was Nightcrawler nearly Jewish? Was Nightcrawler nearly an Avenger? Finally, was Nightcrawler nearly Sabretooth’s son?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Nightcrawler was nearly going to be Jewish.
Last week, I featured a piece about how the X-Men’s ships kept getting destroyed.
One of the sequences was from X-Men #135, by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin…
Notice Nightcrawler’s comments on the last page, where he essentially says “Oh vey.”
Our pal G. Kendall, who is writing the Guide to the Guide to Comics feature on this very site, commented on the piece to note that that is likely a reference to the fact that, at the time, Claremont had been fighting to have Nightcrawler revealed to be Jewish.
As it turns out, that was exactly the case. John Byrne and then-X-Men editor Roger Stern fought him on the concept, arguing that Jews in Germany around Nightcrawler’s age were relatively uncommon at the time, but more importantly, they had already established that he was of Gypsy descent, so wasn’t that already interesting enough?
Claremont let it go at the time, but kept wanting to pursue a religious angle on Nightcrawler, and when Byrne left (Stern had left even earlier), it seemed like he had his chance. The only problem was that the next artist on the book was Dave Cockrum, Nightcrawler’s creator, and Cockrum was even MORE against the idea of Nightcrawler being religious!
Cockrum explained on the Nightcrawlers forum before he passed away:
I tried to talk Chris oiut of the religious angle before he actually started it. I originally pressed for the swashbuckling persona, because that reflected my personality, and I felt that Kurt represented ME in the book. When it comes to religion, I’m a non-participant. I feel that I have no answers and I don’t believe that anybody else does either.
Note that it was during a fill-in issue by Bill Sienkiewicz (Uncanny X-Men #159) that we got our first official proof that Nightcrawler was religious…
But that it was not until Cockrum was off the book that Nightcrawler was given a specific religion.
Cockrum later mentioned on the Nightcrawlers forum in reference to Claremont later making Kurt a priest:
I didn’t approve when Chris Claremont turned him toward the religious business, but by that time I was off the book and didn’t have any say any more. I hated the whole priest business, both because it offends my personal beliefs, and because storywise, it won’t work. A potential priest has to spend years in a theological seminary first. When did Kurt have the opportunity? And is there anyone out there who believes the Catholic Churh would ordain someone who looks like Kurt?
Thanks to G. Kendall for the suggestion and thanks to Dave Cockrum and John Byrne (and the Nightcrawlers forum) for the information!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
Is the Peter Gabriel Song “Sledgehammer” About Sex?
On the next page, was Nightcrawler nearly an AVENGER?!
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