Nightcrawler makes his triumphant return to the land of the living with this issue, but it’s not without cost as Jason Aaron wonderfully balances dark and light for an excellent final chapter of this opening story arc. It’s a shame that Aaron isn’t sticking around for much longer on this book, but at least he got to bring back the best X-Man around.
The battle here is on two fronts. Out in the ‘real’ world, the good blue Bamfs are fighting the evil red Bamfs as the rest of the X-Men try and guard the portal to the underworld. But inside Heaven/Hell/Whatever, Nightcrawler is leading his Pirate Crew and X-Men against Azazel and his Pirates. As Iceman says, they don’t really have much of a plan except to dress up as Pirates, but it mostly works, and is a lot of fun. The real meat of the fight here is Kurt going up against his father, which is emotional, heavy stuff, but with teleportation.
Azazel stabs Wolverine, who of course has no healing factor, and the fight looks lost, but then Nightcrawler is psychically contacted by Professor Xavier, who tells him that a host of Angels is coming to shut Azazel down, and that he can now finally return to Heaven. But Kurt doesn’t want this, he knows that any prison that the Angels can put Azazel in… he can just break out, so he needs to put him somewhere different. He tells a nearby Bamf to tell his brothers that he’s willing to pay what they agreed, and out in the real world, the blue Bamfs start to coalesce and form… a new Nightcrawler body. He teleports into it, and brings Azazel with him, trapping him in the mortal realm. Everyone else grabs a Bamf and teleports to safety, but there is time for one last glimpse at the dead Charles Xavier.
So, it looks like everything worked out great right? Wrong, as we see Kurt moping on the roof of the Jean Grey School. He wanted to be back here when he was in Heaven, but now that he’s out, he’s thinking about what he’s given up, and to top it all off… he sold his soul to the Bamfs to come back. Nightcrawler is of course one of the most overtly religious superheroes in comics, so how is he going to cope without having a soul? I’m almost tempted to pick up the new solo series from Claremont, but I don’t think I can handle the word count.
This was a strong ending to a good story, yes, the X-Men didn’t have much of a plan, but that’s the kind of character Nightcrawler is, he flies by the seat of his pants into adventure. Ed McGuinness’ art was as brilliant as always, the action here was great, and with all due respect to Cockrum, Byrne and Davis, he does probably draw the best Nightcrawler ever. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see what happens when he meets his mother Mystique again next issue.