Warning: This article contains major spoilers for House of X #4, by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
Things have never been easy for the X-Men. Casualties are a commonplace occurrence, and most of the team's members have been killed and resurrected multiple times over the years. But the loss of life for the mutant team has rarely been on the scale of House of X #4. Throughout most of the issue, various members of the team are dispatched or forced to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of stopping the Mother Mold Sentinel that's being constructed near the sun.
Amidst all the bloodshed, two classic X-Men get a moment that reaffirms the friendship between them right before they make the choice to sacrifice themselves to complete their mission. After years apart, Nightcrawler and Wolverine get a beautiful buddy moment right before their apparent end.
The X-Men's boarding plans don't go well for the team, with Archangel and Husk killed just trying to land on the station. The plan to destroy the structures holding the Mother Mold in place above the sun requires Cyclops, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Mystique to take out one structure each so it'll fall into the sun. Although Cyclops, Wolverine and Nightcrawler are successful in their mission, Mystique is lured into a trap and is blasted out into space before she can complete her mission.
In an attempt to make sure their mission succeeds, Nightcrawler and Wolverine agree to teleport outside so Wolverine can cut through the last arm and destroy the Master Mold. But there's no way either of them will survive the attempt. The pair have a moment where they speak about faith before they go for it, and Nightcrawler promises to find Logan in the afterlife. The pair then teleport outside, right in front of the sun. Nightcrawler is killed instantly, but Wolverine is able to complete their mission by cutting through the last structure, sending the Mother Mold (and himself) straight into the sun.
LOGAN AND KURT
Wolverine and Nightcrawler have been unlikely friends since their earliest days as members of the X-Men. While Wolverine is a functionally immortal killer with a strict code of honor mainly derived from Japanese traditions, Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic with a swash-buckling sense of humor. Despite their obvious differences, the pair became incredibly close. Logan even took to calling Kurt "elf" as a sign of endearment towards the German mutant. Although the pair have had their ups and downs, they've been frequently established as best friends.
That's part of what made the last decade of X-Men comics so tough for them. Nightcrawler was killed during the events of 2010's "Second Coming" crossover. Wolverine immediately mourned for Kurt, even refusing to talk for a period out of grief. When Nightcrawler eventually returned from heaven, he did so without his soul. Although he was initially uneasy over the change, Kurt soon finds Wolverine in one of their old haunts, and the pair spend the night drinking together until Nightcrawler feels better. They even admit they love each other as best friends. Nightcrawler, in turn, mourned for Logan when he was killed in 2014, and the pair hadn't really had the chance to reunite before the events of House of X.
When Logan and Nightcrawler realize that they have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the two share a moving moment in front of the Sun. The pair have had frequent discussions over the years about Kurt's faith and debated the nature of the afterlife. Shortly before they make their fateful jump, Logan asks Kurt if he thinks he'll make it to a better place after they die. With a grin, Kurt promises that when they see each other on the other side, that Nightcrawler will be there waiting "radiant and with open arms." Neither character has any illusions of surviving their mission, but they both take solace in dying with someone that matters to them.
Amidst all the pain and loss, the X-Men have always been defined by the relationships that grow between the teammates. One of the most beautiful is between Logan and Kurt, giving hope to one of the most brutal members of the team while giving Nightcrawler the chance to actually relax with someone who understands what it's like to be judged by others.
Giving them one last moment together before they seemingly perish to save the rest of the mutants on Earth gives their final moments an even more poignant sense of loss, all while bringing back one of the defining relationships for an entire era of X-Men to the forefront one more time.