"Well, thát sure took him long enough..."
I know, I know... It's been a year to the day since this blog was last updated. It's not like yours truly had taken a break from comics blogging, though. I wrote several lengthy retrospectives for Marvel Comics of the 1980s, covering the X-Men's encounters with the Brood as well as the time the Fantastic Four added a fifth member who proved to be nuts. And let's not forget the work for the Marvel Appendix, the online take on the famous Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for which I provided a fair number of noteworthy profiles. You got your Agatha Harkness, you got your Arkon the Imperion, you got your Stu Pfaffenberger... It keeps a body busy.
And, truth be told, I'd have been happy to let the 22nd of November come and go... But thank heavens for Chris Claremont, who returned to Marvel and monthly comics earlier this year with Nightcrawler. It took him eight enjoyable, rather quiet issues...but with the anniversary of absentia coming up there was last Wednesday's Nightcrawler III#8, 22 pages with all the mind control anyone could ever want. Let's dig in...
So, Nightcrawler returned from the dead a year or so ago. In his new solo book he coped with being back from beyond, getting reacquainted with this brave new world. Kurt reconnected with the X-Men and even his lady love Amanda Sefton (who he inevitably lost, hey... it's comics!). Kurt even had to cope with the death of Wolverine. And now, he was thrust headlong into some headgames, a Chris Claremont mainstay!
"His thoughts are scrambled! There's another presence in his mind!"
... Sigh. It takes one back.
So, while training Xavier's latest batch of students in the Danger Room, Nightcrawler is suddenly contacted by Bloody Bess. And no, it *does* make sense you don't quite know who she is, but Bess used to be one of the Crimson Pirates, a band of mutants Claremont dreamed up when he took over the X-books back in 2000. Bloody Bess and her teammates were reintroduced by Chris on more than one occassion, as the man has made no secret of playing favorites. In earlier issues, the Crimson Pirates were tasked to capture a young girl with powerful psionic powers.
But things didn't go as planned...
The Pirates were after her. Luckily Kurt came to her aid, courtesy of the teleporting Bamfs.
"Killian is possessed by someone I know... But who?"
Kurt is forced to save Bess, but he can't help but notice something familiar about all this. Talk about a great tongue in cheek moment. It's almost 40 (!) years since Claremont started his professional writing career... So after four decades of subjecting his characters to an, admittedly, limited number of mind controlling characters their dominating touch can feel familiar. And this one really is familiar, beyond the shadow of a doubt, even.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
"Your problem, psi-thief, is that you stole Broadside's body, but not his smarts."
So, who was behind all this, then? Not allowing Nightcrawler time to figure it out, the mysterious entity took over Bess and got rid of her. It also spotted the arrival of the X-Men and focused its powers to deal with Marvel's merry mutants.
"Your defenses are breached! Those who might have resisted me are the first to fall!"
Ignoring the fact that in previous stories, Claremont went out of his way to make Psylocke immune to any and all outside tampering... All of the X-Men found themselves getting slowly corrupted, with the mystery menace taking special delight in turning Storm...
"Foolish Storm. I don't need your soul. Not yet. I have your body.
For the moment that will suffice."
For the moment that will suffice."
So, a mind controlling villain with a clear and distinct obsession for Storm? Well, I guess we all know who's behind this particular caper, then...
"... Shadow King!"
Urgh... Not this guy again. Still, in a world without Charles Xavier, it makes sense for the King to try and make his presence known again. He even tried to take over Nightcrawler, just to complete his set of fallen heroes. Unfortunately for him, that doesn't quite work.
"I'll simply seize your consciousnes as I did theirs... and turn you into my slave!"
And while Kurt was able to resist the King's might because dying and returning to life somehow makes you immune to the malevolent entity's influence... the same could not be said for his fellow X-Men, as we'll find in the closing pages of Nightcrawler III#8.