Nightcrawler (3rd series) #2

Issue Date: 
December 2004
Story Title: 
The Devil Inside part 2: The Knotted Rope

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Writer), Darick Robertson (Penciller), Wayne Faucher (Inker), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Matt Milla (Colorist), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief) Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler races to save the burning Barney Franks, but even in water cannot quench the flame, and Franks dies. Nightcrawler goes to Limbo, to ask his foster sister and ex-girlfriend Amanda Sefton for advice. After their initial reunion and some uncomfortable moments between them, Amanda seems to think that Seth Walker may have magical abilities, which would explain the tying of knots. Kurt returns to Seth Walker, and by untying a knot in his rope gets the young boy to speak. However, Dr. Childs calls Kurt off when he brings in a woman called Meredith Walker, who is apparently Seth’s aunt, and Childs orders Kurt away, despite Seth’s protests. As Kurt leaves, he sees a demon in place of Meredith. Nurse Christine Palmer finds Kurt and shows him what she discovered upon entering the morgue - the bodies of all the children have been mysteriously burned to ash, leaving a very puzzled Kurt with a deepening mystery.

Full Summary: 

The question Kurt Wagner gets asked most often (other than “Where do you get three-toed shoes from“) is: “So, what’s it like to be an X-Man?“ The answer, of course, changes, but at this very moment, it is a lot like jumping off the Dakota Building in New York city to try and save a man who’s burning to death. Which is exactly what Kurt is doing. The blue-skinned X-Man teleports to the ground where the burning Barney Franks is screaming ‘It hurts! Lord, it hurts!’ A security guard asks Nightcrawler what he is waiting for, so Kurt leaps at the burning man, teleporting him upon contact and with a crowd of onlookers watching, Kurt and Franks end up in the Central Park reservoir.

Kurt’s plan was to hopefully douse the flames - but Franks is still burning - even underwater. Kurt sees how terrified Franks is, clutching onto Kurt - will he burn or drown with him? Suddenly, Franks pushes Kurt away, Kurt wonders if Franks doesn’t realize that he is his only hope. Kurt begins to swim back to Franks, remembering the file that Storm gave him earlier, which said that Franks and his wife have been married seventeen years and have three children. Kurt thinks that other than the matter of Franks leaving the murdered children unattended for four minutes, he seemed like a decent man, confirmed by the way he did everything he could to prevent Kurt from burning with him….

Soon, Kurt sits in the back of a ambulance, informing his X-Men team leader, Storm, that he could not save Franks, as he pushed free, and burned to death. Storm tells Kurt that he didn’t have a choice, and that from what he is telling her, Franks would have died no matter what he had done. Nightcrawler explains that Franks was fine, until he caught fire in front of the Dakota Building, for no reason at all.

Storm asks Kurt if he is talking about spontaneous combustion, but Kurt thinks that Dr. Childs or one of the other people in the apartment looking down on Franks might have done something to him. Storm asks if this is something meta-magical, and offers to put Kurt in touch with Dr. Stephen Strange, for if the fire was mystical, then he is their best resource. As paramedics lift Franks’ body into the ambulance, Kurt informs Ororo that there is someone else he would like to try first.

Limbo: as Kurt walks up the mighty palace, he thinks that his ex-girlfriend and foster sister would have to live in Limbo, but he knows that Amanda Sefton a.k.a. the new Magik is nearly as accomplished magician as Stephen Strange. As Kurt approaches the palace doors, two very large snakes suddenly slide into view. One of them exclaims that this is very interesting, the other agrees, as Kurt is not dead, and not magical either, even though he looks and smells like a demon. Arms folded across his chest, Kurt declares that he will try not to be offended by that comment.

The snakes tell Kurt that he should not be in this place of the dead, to which Kurt informs them that he is here to see their mistress. ‘And you are?’ ‘And we should let you past because…?’ ask the snakes, when a voice calls down to them from a balcony - ‘Brad! Roger! That’s enough boys!’ Amanda Sefton looks down at Kurt and tells him that it has been ages. Nightcrawler looks up at Amanda and tells her that she looks wonderful. ‘Flatterer’ replies the comely blonde. Kurt asks his former Excalibur teammate if she will let him past, ‘or do I need a secret password?’

Soon, Kurt and Amanda, dressed in an elegant silver dress, walk side by side through the mighty palace, before taking seats in a lounge. Amanda asks Kurt how his trip was, to which he replies it was fine, but reminds her that traveling through dimensions makes him feel rather queasy. ‘That must be why you never come to visit!’ remarks Amanda. Kurt begins to make an excuse, but Amanda tells him that she is only teasing, before finishing her glass of wine, and asking him why he never comes to visit her. Kurt hesitates, before suggesting there is too much history between them.

A bottle of wine floats beside Amanda, refilling her empty wine glass as she remarks the question is begged - why now? Before Kurt can answer, Amanda tells him that he must want her help with that little boy. Taking a sip of wine, Amanda tells Kurt not to look so surprised, as his life is an open book to her. She asks him if he hasn’t realized that by now, to which Kurt asks how. ‘Some people use Google to keep track of their exes, other people use crystal balls. I use both’ declares Amanda.

Nightcrawler exclaims that thirteen children died violently, and no one knows how or why. He explains that then the guard who was watching them burned to death in front of his eyes. Then there is Seth, the one boy who survived, and who wont talk to anyone. Kurt tells Amanda that part of Seth feels like he wants to talk, but he is scared, that it is as if Seth were consciously willing himself not to talk, if such a thing were possible. Amanda exclaims that it sounds awful.

Kurt informs Amanda that according to Seth’s nurse, Christine Palmer, Seth just sits in his room all day, sculpting clay figures and playing with a piece of knotted rope. Amanda looks surprised, and asks if Seth really plays with a knotted rope. Kurt replies that he does, so Amanda asks him, just to be clear, his sense tells him that “darker forces“ are at work here, and asks him if he means magic. Kurt replies either magic, or the occult. Amanda tells Kurt that she doesn’t know what he means by “occult“, but that magic, a lot of magic, involves binding things together, or untying them. A book floats down from the book case into Amanda’s hand, and Amanda suggests that Seth might be a magician without even knowing he is.

Kurt seems surprised, so Amanda tells him that it is possible, and that while most people learn and study magic, some know it innately. Amanda suggests that Seth is tied knots into the rope to make sure he keeps himself from talking - a locking spell to ensure his secrets remain secret. Kurt seems sceptical, ‘Magic, Amanda? In a piece of string?’ Amanda tells Kurt that it is the same principal as talismans or magic wands - a physical object that helps with spell weaving. Amanda smiles and tells Kurt that she will tell him about binding spells, if he will tell her about Nurse Palmer.

Thunder booms and lightening strikes outside the building where young Seth Walker is being kept. Nightcrawler, in disguise thanks to his image inducer, sits opposite Seth and asks him if he thinks the lightening is scary. Seth offers no response, so Kurt shows him his image inducer, and tells him this is responsible for the way he looks now, that he changes his appearance to stop him from being scared.

Kurt holds up the piece of string, and asks Seth if he could try something. Upon seeing the string, Seth puts down the clay he is playing with and watches as Kurt unties one of the knots, and laying the string down on the table, asks Seth if he can talk now, if he wants to. Seth replies yes, while Kurt thinks to himself ‘Finally’. Kurt asks Seth where he learned to do that, did someone teach him? Seth replies that he just knew. Kurt tells him it is a good trick and asks if he does it often. Seth replies that he only does it when he needs to.

Kurt asks Seth if he did it the night his friends were…his voice trails off, but Seth knows what Kurt is talking about and replies yes. Kurt asks why, to which Seth replies that he felt something happening. Kurt asks what he felt happening, and Seth informs him that he started getting really hot, they all did, it was like something was growing inside his stomach. Seth reveals that he just tied a knot in the rope, like this one, and that is all he remembers about the night - except that he couldn’t save them. Seth explains that he made the other knots after if happened, because he didn’t want to talk about that night and because Dr. Childs kept asking him questions. Kurt begins to ask Seth what kind of questions Dr. Childs was asking him, when suddenly, Dr. Childs enters the room, shouting ‘That’s enough!’

Seth looks scared as Childs declares that the interview is over and informs Kurt that he just phoned the F.B.I. Who revealed to him that they did not ask ‘you X-people’ to help with the investigation. Kurt replies that he never said that they had, and Childs remarks that he assumed that, and is going to rectify his imbecilic mistake right now. Kurt tries to reason with Dr. Childs, telling him that someone has to look out for Seth. Childs declares that he is doing just that, but Kurt points out that he is not Seth’s legal guardian, when an elderly woman enters the room, declaring that she is.

The woman introduces herself as Meredith Wagner, Seth’s aunt. Seth exclaims that she isn’t, but Meredith tells Seth that he wouldn’t recognize her because she and his father rarely spoke, as he cut her out of his life when she moved to Europe and married a man he didn’t approve of. Childs tells Kurt that ever since the city placed Seth in their care, they had been looking for any surviving relatives, and that after four years of searching, they finally found Mrs. Walker living right here in New York City.

Meredith reveals that she moved back to the U.S.A. two years ago this June, as after her husbands death she kept thinking she could reconnect with her brother and his family, before admitting that she had gotten used to not having them in her life, but of course if she had known that Seth’s mother and father had died, and that he had been remanded to the state, then she would have sought him out - she truly had no idea.

Dr. Childs tells Kurt that as he can see, Seth will be looked after properly, and since neither he nor the X-Men have jurisdiction, he will have to ask him to leave. Childs pushes Kurt of the door, ignoring Seth’s cries ‘Wait, please!’ Kurt looks back at Seth, and suddenly, sees not Meredith Walker standing behind him, but a horned demon. Kurt does a double-take, but the door closes.

Kurt wonders if it was his imagination, and every instinct tells him that something terribly, terribly wrong is happening here - but what can he do? He returns to his normal form, when Christine Palmer approaches him, and asks him if everything is all right. Kurt replies that she startled him is all. The pretty Nurse informs Kurt that there is something she thinks he should see - something unnatural.

Christine reveals that at the start of her shift she went down to the morgue to prepare the children’s bodies for autopsy - to see if the cause of their deaths could be discovered by that way…her voice trails off. Kurt asks Christine what happened, and leading Kurt down into the morgue, Christine informs Kurt that she hasn’t even told Dr. Childs about this…her voice trails off again, but Kurt urges her on. However, she doesn’t say anything - until they enter the room where the bodies are kept, and Kurt stands in shock looking at the tables where the bodies were kept - only the bodies are gone.

Christine explains that she came down here, and all thirteen of the mutilated bodies had been burned up. All bodies were piles of ash, even what was left of Barney Franks’ body. ‘How they burned to nothing down here, in their airtight cabinets, without a single fire alarm going too, without anyone noticing…we, you tell me, Mr. Wagner’. Still stunned, Kurt wonders what is happening her, as the mystery deepens.

Characters Involved: 

Nightcrawler, Storm (both members of the X-Men)

Magik II / Amanda Sefton (X-Men ally and ruler of Limbo)

Brad & Roger (Snakes, gatekeepers to Amanda’s palace)

Seth Walker

Nurse Christine Palmer
Dr. Louis Childs

Meredith Walker

Barney Franks

Crowd of onlookers

Security guard


Story Notes: 

This is Amanda Sefton’s first appearance since X-Men: Magik #4. At first reluctant about becoming Limbo’s Mistress, Amanda now seems very comfortable with her role.

Nightcrawler and Amanda had two main periods as lovers. From X-Men (1st series) #98, when Jimaine Szardos created her Amanda Sefton alias and tracked her foster brother down, until Uncanny X-Men #204, when Kurt accused Amanda of using her power to make him love her. They rekindled their love when Amanda joined Excalibur [Excalibur (1st series) #75] until Amanda was kidnapped by her mad mother Margali, and in disguise as her daughter, Amanda quit Excalibur. [Excalibur (1st series) #108] Though the two still seem to have some affection for each other, as seen in their flirtatiousness, like at Captain Britain and Meggan’s wedding in Excalibur (1st series) #125.
It is unclear since when Nightcrawler is able to teleport to Limbo under his own power.

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