Or in March, actually I suppose.
The advance solicits for Marvel titles coming in March 2009 are out tonight. Marvel Heroes titles Here and X-Men titles (Under which Captain Britain & MI13 still falls, through its Excalibur link) Here. I was scanning down the X-Men list and a couple of titles caught my eye. Nowhere near as many as they used to, sadly, but I still buy a few. I looked at the solicit and cover for Captain Britain & MI13 #11. Some great work there from Stuart Immonen: Take a look for yourself. Some echoes of his Nextwave art in the cover style, but with a more serious edge, and I love that we kinda have the British Red, White and Blue in the sky.
I was happy.
Then I saw something which made me less so. Half way down the listings I saw this:
X-MEN: QUITTING TIME
Written by JAMES ASMUS
Penciled by TBD
Cover by BRANDON PETERSON
Since the move to San Francisco and after the events of X-Infernus,
Nightcrawler realizes a hard truth—he has to quit the X-Men. Kurt has realized that the X-Men just don’t need him anymore. He hasn’t been operating at his highest levels and even the biggest strength he has—teleportation—has been made redundant by Pixie who can do it better and more efficiently. Don’t miss the departure of one of the most important characters in X-Men history.
32 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$3.99
Now, I know that Nightcrawler is not British. He's German. But despite being German this is one native of Deutschland we Brits find hard not to feel like he's kind of one of our own.
For 10 years Kurt Wagner was a member of British based superteam Excalibur. He was a founding member, led them later on into its run, and he was even played BY a Brit (Scotsman Alan Cumming) in the X-Men movies. He's one heck of a great character.
But it seems that ever since the end of Excalibur (Which I still believe is the best 10 years of the characters continuity), and his subsequent return to the X-Men, Nightcrawler has had a really rum deal. It's like the Editors at the time had this big idea of bringing three 70s X-Men characters back home for the Anniversary event - but then had no idea what to do with them once they had them back.
For a year or so Kurt pretty much did little more than stand in the background. Then they took him out of action for a while and had him training to be a priest. That was confusing. He did rejoin the X-Men again, but they seemed to spend more time having Havoc (Hardly the model leader, as it is) dressing Kurt down in a 'I led X-Factor and that makes me a much better leader than you with Excalibur' pissing contest. And just when you thought it couldn't really get any worse for the guy Chuck Austen wrote The Draco - A story in which it was revealed that Kurt's father was an ages old mutant who had been the inspiration behind the myth of the Devil. The genuine and actual Devil!
Not a good turn of events...
That's not the Nightcrawler I grew up with, or the Nightcrawler the majority of fans grew up with either. Yes, Kurt has always had the backing of a belief in God - but in my opinion it's only the laziest writers who take that and make him preachy with it. It's his own belief, but a personal one. And it doesn't stop him from being the charming, swashbuckling and often womanizing Nightcrawler - leaping around, swinging those swords, stealing a kiss from a comely wench.
That Nightcrawler rules! Even with a shaven head and a goatee, as he had in the Warren Ellis years.
But, as I say, it would appear that the decision has been made to let Kurt leave the team. There have been rumblings of Kurt questioning his role since the team moved to San Francisco. There were doubts during Secret Invasion and they've also been made very plain to see in the first issue of the X-Infernus limited series (Which is a return to several aspects of the classic X-Men Inferno event from the 1980s). The argument seems to be that nowadays the X-Men have better/quicker teleporters at their disposal and that Nightcrawler just doesn't pack as much of a punch as many of the other X-Men.
I myself disagree with that argument.
Here is an agile, acrobatic, physically fit guy who's adept with swords and other hand weapons. He's tactically smart, a competent spy (Although we haven't seen that skill of becoming semi-transparent in the shadows in a long while) and perhaps his strongest suit right now - he knows a fair bit about many things mystic. After all that adoptive mother of his IS a Sorceress, and he's been minding that Soul Sword for quite some time, too.
I for one will be sad to see him leaving an ongoing series. But just look at that last paragraph.
Expert swordsman. Capable spy. A knowledge of mysticism.
Swords? Spies? Mysticism? He may not fit so neatly into the X-Men right now. But he could do a lot worse than getting on a plane and visiting his old mate Brian, in London...
New campaign: Nightcrawler for Captain Britain & MI13 in 2009!
Sign up, people - Make it happen!