Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nightcrawler's Nearly Non-Existent Mind Control part II: Here We Go Again!

When we last left Nightcrawler... The Shadow King had just taken over the band of Neo called the Crimson Pirates to get his hands on their wayward member Bloody Bess. Nightcrawler and the X-Men came to her aid, but the King also took over Marvel's merry mutants forcing Kurt to fight his teammates. 

So, just guess what we got in Nightcrawler IV#9? Basically an issue long fight scene that sees Kurt trying to outsmart a team with two telepaths. 

"Possessed by the Shadow King. They mean to kill me."

No worries Kurt, your name is in the title so chances are you'll live to tell the tale. Still, he's up against rather impossible odds: the X-Men, the Crimson Pirates, the Sea Dogs ánd the Shadow King. Luckily he has his tiny outerdimensional Bamfs to fight on his behalf. 

"Your Bamfs are mine, Bess.. And soon, you'll join them!"

Well, that was fun while it lasted.

As for Kurt trying to deal with his teammates, leave it to Claremont to make what would otherwise be a by-the-numbers fight interesting. Just check Uncanny X-Men I#175 where he has Cyclops fight off all the X-Men who were mind controlled by Mastermind to believe Scott was actually Dark Phoenix. Fun stuff... and while dodging his teammates, Kurt thinks back to how he used to hone his skills against them in the Danger Room. He even has a flashback to a talk he had with Kitty Pryde who i rather seductively stuffing her face with icecream.

"Ogun remade me in his image. He turned me into a weapon."

A flashback inside a flasback... about the time Ogun mind controlled Kitty into becoming a ninja assassin? Well, that's a new one. But wait, there's more!

"We even saved the universe... but we pay a price inside."

Well, it makes sense to include the Brood Queen in that flashback, after all she planted something inside the X-Men that would certainly have changed them, given the chance. But let's get back to the actual story. Nightcrawler's been busy fighting the X-Men, first taking out Psylocke and Rachel to make sure they can't read his mind and predict his moves. Which sounds like a smart move, as long as you're willing to gloss over the fact he is actually fighting Shadow King, an all powerful telepath. But hey, never you mind, time to continue the fight.

"True, the Shadow King controls Ororo's mind... but I know something he does not.
My friend is a proud woman with a ferocious temper."

I guess the best way to help one of your best friends regain control of herself and sense of selfworth is slapping her around until she snaps out of it... Right before falling unconscious.

"You have won nothing! I will claim her again.
She will be my slave forever!"

Ahhh, vintage Claremont lines... But there's no time for Kurt to savor that. After freeing Storm, it's time to move on to free the others... Unfortunately, Shadow King seems ready for that.

"Eventually you will tire and weaken... and make a mistake."
Then, Nightcrawler, you're mine!"

But it's nothing Kurt hasn't heard before and he remains defiant until the very end.

"Let's see how YOU fare, Shadow King".

Dem's fighting words, Kurt... and guess who you missed because she was too busy finding Bloody Bess and turning the Bamfs? Yeah, it's one of Chris' favorite female characters: Psylocke.

Next: well, we all know what'll be next. More mind control and two more issues to go before the inevitable end of Nightcrawler

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nightcrawler's Nearly Non-Existent Mind Control

"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...

"BIG mistake"

 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."

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.

Ow boy... Se plus se change, eh, Chris? Thanks for bringing me back to the fold. It might as well have been mind control!