Nightcrawler (3rd series) #3

Issue Date: 
January 2005
Story Title: 
The Devil Inside part 3: Fourteen Demons

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

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler is enjoying some “time-out“ from his solo case, spending an afternoon fencing with some of his teammates, until Storm offers some advice in helping him get back on the case. Nightcrawler goes to talk to Seth again, and discovers that the clay figures he has been making are actually jars, one for each of his friends who have died, and one will be for him. This perplexes Kurt, even more so when Seth reveals that the Devil killed his friends. Kurt asks Seth if he thinks Dr. Childs is the Devil, but Seth disagrees. Soon, Kurt is informed that Dr. Childs is being attacked by Seth’s aunt, Meredith Walker. Kurt gets involved in the fight and teleports Seth’s aunt to a church, where thirteen demons are expelled from her body. Nightcrawler brings Seth’s aunt to Limbo to see Amanda, and she reveals that she is not Seth’s aunt, that her name is Sandra Manning, and that she is homeless woman who Dr. Childs found and dressed up, and that he out the demons inside her. Amanda tells Nightcrawler a story about the Great War fought in Heaven and how Lucifer brought fourteen angels down to Hell with him. They surmise that they are dealing with these fourteen demons, and Kurt believes that the fourteenth one is inside Seth Walker. As Nightcrawler and Amanda go over possibilities, Dr. Childs comes to Seth, with a knife hidden behind his back, and telling him that he is going to take him away from this place.

Full Summary: 

The Xavier Institute, Salem Center, Westchester, New York. In the gymnasium, Emma Frost stands between Nightcrawler and his challenger, both clad in protective gear for the game of fencing they are about to engage in. The White Queen tells the duo not to stand on ceremony, that they should feel free to draw blood, before taking a set next to her teammates, Logan and Beast. Examining his sandwich, the ruggedly handsome Wolverine tells Beast that he thinks this is his, as it has turkey in it. Emma just sits there looking bored, even as Kurt lunges at his competitor.

‘I’m bored. Is anyone else here bored? This is deathly boring, isn’t it?’ remarks Emma, when suddenly Kurt’s competitor lunges back, when Kurt cries out, Logan, Beast and Emma all look up at the fight, as it has become slightly more interesting. As Kurt leaps at his competitor and knocks them back, Logan smiles at his antics. Swords poised, Kurt tells his competition that he is impressed, telling her that she has gotten better since they last - suddenly Kurt’s competitor strikes him with her sword, and as his clothing rips, ‘Match!’ is called.

From the side of the gym, one of the X-Men’s leaders, Ororo Munroe tells Kitty that she did some nice work, and Kurt’s competitor - Kitty Pryde thanks Storm, before whispering to Kurt ‘Are we in trouble?’ Storm then asks Nightcrawler if she can have a word with him. Nightcrawler replies that she can, and whispers to Kitty that it is just he who is going to get in trouble. Logan and Beast also joke that Kurt is in trouble, Kurt thinking he is getting in trouble because he should be working on his „Demon murder“ case and not fencing with a friend, he asks Ororo if he can shower first.

Storm waits on a bench as Kurt showers, with a towel in her hand. Kurt leans around from the shower, and Storm smiles when he says that he assumes the towel is for him. As Kurt dries himself and gets changed, he tells Storm that he hasn’t given up on Seth if that is what she thinks, that he is just taking time out. Storm realizes Kurt is clearing his head, and Kurt informs her that it has gotten trickier, as he has been more or less barred from the hospital, that the dead children’s bodies were destroyed before autopsies could be performed - there is not much to go on. Storm smiles and asks if there is anything she can help with, joking that she is a goddess.

The close friends walk past the Danger Room, where Beast is currently facing off against some Sentinels, and Kurt informs Storm that Christine Palmer, one of the Nurses at the Metro hospital gave him copies of the dead children’s medical records and histories. Storm informs Nightcrawler that she knows Christine, before Kurt reveals that all of the children were admitted to the Metro hospital after Dr. Childs took over the Children’s psychiatric ward, and all of them were orphans. He adds that all of their treatment was sponsored, by wealthy New Yorkers like doctors, diplomats, attorneys and heads of foundations. ‘Society people’ suggests Storm.

Kurt reveals to Storm that he gave Beast their names, and he did some detective work for him. Storm asks if Hank turned up anything interesting, to which Kurt declares that if you would consider that each of the sponsors live in the Dakota Building where Dr. Childs’ apartment is, where Barney Franks spontaneously combusted, then yes, very interesting. Storm mentions that historical of not, she has never really cared for the Dakota Building, as the maintenance fees are ridiculously high, and none of the apartments get any sunlight. Kurt mentions that when he visited it, the entire building, it felt evil somehow, like it was disturbed and polluted. Storm asks Kurt what is next, assuming of course his „time-out“ is over. Kurt reveals that if Christine keeps to her word and promises to turn a blind eye, then he will try visiting Seth again tonight.

Later that night, Seth sits at his desk, a small lamp illuminating the room as he plays with his clay figures. Seth tells Kurt that he can come out of the shadows, as he knows he is there, in fact he knows he has been there for almost half an hour. Nightcrawler steps into the light and asks Seth if the way he looks doesn’t frighten him. Seth replies that it doesn’t anymore, and he knows he only looks bad on the outside, that on the inside he is okay. Kurt motions to the clay figures and asks Seth what they are - Kurt knows he has been making them since the murders.

Seth informs Kurt that they are not statues, but jars. Kurt looks perplexed, as Seth reveals he has almost finished, as he has done twelve and has two more to go. Kurt asks what they are jars for, to which Seth reveals they are for each one of his friends who died, and one for when he himself dies. Kurt is stunned, and asks Seth why he would even think that. Seth asks Kurt if he really wants to know, to which Kurt replies he does, and so Seth says ‘The Devil’. Seth informs Kurt that he the Devil is real, and that he has seen him, in his head and in his dreams.

Forlorn, Seth tells Kurt that the Devil hurt and killed his friends, and that he now thinks he wants to hurt him too. Kurt tells Seth that he will not let anyone hurt him, and tells him that he has to be honest about something. Kurt asks Seth if he thinks Dr. Childs is the Devil. Seth seems a little surprised and reminds Kurt that Dr. Childs takes care of them, talks to them and buys them stuff. Kurt declares that he knows he does, before Seth says ‘at least he did when they were alive’. Seth tells Kurt that Dr. Childs is a good person, to which Kurt tells him that it may seem that way, and informs Seth that before he became an X-Man, he was part of a circus, lived with a family and had a sister and brother. The one day, without warning, his brother started killing the children in one of the towns they were visiting.

Kurt explains to Seth that that the children weren’t really children, but they looked like children, except they were demons, and his brother, Stefan, could see through their disguises. Seth tells Kurt again that Dr. Childs is not as demon, so Kurt asks Seth about his aunt, and asks if she is who she says she is. Seth replies that he doesn’t know, that she is nice, and took him to lunch, and they talked about leaving Metro hospital, but he is not sure.

Suddenly, Christine Palmer rushes into the room, shouting ‘It’s Dr. Childs!’ Kurt asks if Childs is here, but Christine informs him that Childs is out front, being attacked. She called the police and security, but no one can get to him, she thinks that he is being killed. Kurt asks who, to which Christine reveals, that it is Seth’s aunt. Kurt tells Seth to stay with Christine, while he teleports to the scene, despite Seth protesting that he wants to come too.

Kurt arrives outside, and sees a huge crowd gathered around. He teleports into the crowd and sees Meredith Walker attacking Dr. Childs. Childs calls to Kurt, telling him that he cannot cross the circle. Kurt wonders what circle Childs is talking about, but then he realizes that there is something blocking him. With a strange voice, Meredith tells Childs to undo the circle, then they will free their brother - the last of the fourteen.

Kurt doesn’t need to cross the circle, as he can teleport through it. He lands on Meredith, but finds her grip on Childs very tough. Kurt manages to pry her off Childs, and drags Meredith backwards, as she screams ‘Rip you apart tear out your heart!’ Kurt tells Childs to get away, as Meredith frees herself from him. She rushes back towards Childs, who is telling Kurt to get her into the church. Meredith screams that she will kill Childs for lying to them, but she doesn’t get that far, as Kurt teleports her into the church.

Inside the church, Meredith looks terrified, as frightened as Seth did when the two of them first met. Meredith looks horrified and screams ‘His house, his presence, NNOOOOOO!’ Suddenly, several demons fly out of Meredith’s body, she gaps and falls to the ground, Kurt catches her though. He wonders what happened, and looks up at a cross with Jesus on it.

In Limbo, Amanda Sefton tells Kurt that she was right to bring Meredith here, adding that whatever she has been through, her magics will make her feel better. Nightcrawler and Amanda walk over to the old woman. Kurt begins to introduce Mrs. Walker to Amanda - This is my…uhm…’ he wonders what to call Amanda, and decides to just introduce her as Amanda Sefton. He tells Meredith that he doesn’t want her to be afraid.

Meredith tells Kurt that they were inside her, like spiders and flies crawling across her soul. Kurt asks her what were, and she informs him that her name is Sandra Manning, not what he has been calling her. Kurt asks if she doesn’t have a nephew named Seth Walker, to which Sandra says ‘No, mister whoever you are. I don’t have anyone’. ‘Cue that haunting Twilight Zone theme music’ jokes Amanda.

Kurt tells Sandra that he doesn’t understand, and informs her that when Dr Childs introduced them - Sandra cuts him off, she seems to remember something, his name sounds familiar to her. Kurt doesn’t have to ask Amanda to use her magic, she just does, her eyes glaze over, and tells Sandra to ‘Remember. Remember everything’. Sandra exclaims that Childs was his name, that he found her at a shelter and took her to a hotel where he cleaned her up and brought her new clothes - but then he put them inside her, to control her body, to make her pretend she was Seth’s aunt. Sandra reveals that they were too strong, they almost broke free, attacking Childs, so he trapped them and her within a circle.

Amanda, also known as the new Magik, and formerly as Daytripper, informs Sandra that then their ever-zealous Crawler of the Night teleported her into a church forcing the demons from her body, like St. Patrick chasing the snakes from Ireland, or Jesus driving the thieves from the temple. Sandra Manning reveals that there were thirteen of them inside her, fighting to get out, fighting each other, biting and tearing. She thinks they were enraged because they were desperate for their brother.

‘The Fourteenth Demon’ declares Amanda, as Kurt realizes there are the same number of demons as there are children, and asks Amanda what she is talking about. Amanda begins a tale, informing Kurt that when the war in Heaven was fought, the Great War, fourteen angels stood by the Morning Star’s side. ‘The…?’ says Kurt puzzled. ‘The Morning Star, Kurt, the son of dawn, the bringer of light’. Lucifer. Kurt asks if that actually happened, before Amanda continues the tale, explaining that when the Morning Star was cast down, he fell into the pit, dragging fourteen lieutenants with him - and fourteen angels became fourteen demons.

Kurt jokes that for those of them who could not stomach sitting through the re-release of the Exorcist a few years ago, he asks Sandra if she thinks these demons possessed her. Sandra replies that they were inside her, making her do what Childs wanted her to. Kurt asks Amanda why it is these specific demons, why not other less high-profile ones. Amanda declares that it is these demons, and informs him that since his last visit, Brad and Roger have heard rumors that Satan’s most inner circle has been disrupted somehow, freed from Hell even. ‘Brad and Roger…your two gay pet snakes have heard rumors? About Satan’s most inner circle? Like his book club you mean?’

Amanda tells Kurt to joke all he wants, but she knows the real reason he is being funny is because he is scared. Kurt asks his sister if she means of the fourteen demons that were possessing Mrs. Manning, before Sandra declares ‘Thirteen!’ and tells Kurt that he hasn’t bee listening to her. She explains that Childs managed to free thirteen of the children, but that there is still one trapped. However, the first thirteen got out, the last one couldn’t and still can’t. He is not in Hell anymore, explains Sandra, but says that he is locked away somewhere. ‘Locked?’ thinks Kurt. The sultry Amanda sees Kurt’s worried expression and calls to him. Kurt reminds Amanda that Seth Walker is a lock, somehow either through magic or mutant ability, he seems to be able to lock things.

At the Metro hospital, Christine Palmer, sitting at the Nurses’ station sees Dr. Childs walk past her towards the Children’s Ward. Christine begins to ask him a question, but Childs cuts her off and tells her to have his car brought around back.

Back in Limbo, Kurt reminds Amanda how thirteen of Seth’s friends died at Metro-General. Sandra Manning exclaims that she was possessed by thirteen demons, which, as Amanda points out, leaves one unaccounted for. Nightcrawler declares that the fourteenth demon is not unaccounted, but trapped.

Seth Walker looks up as Dr. Childs enters his room. Childs tells Seth that there has been a change of plans, that his aunt will not be taking him from the hospital after all.

Amanda asks Nightcrawler what it is he is saying, to which Kurt responds by suggesting that fourteen children may have been sacrificed to set fourteen demons free from Hell, and thirteen burst out of the children’s souls and bodies, but one didn’t.

Dr. Childs informs Seth that he will be taking him from the hospital now. Seth asks

Kurt states that he thinks the fourteenth demon is trapped inside Seth.

Childs tells Seth that they are going to a private place nearby where they will be able to continue his treatment away from all distraction and interference. Holding a knife behind his back, Dr. Childs tells Seth that whatever he is keeping inside of him, will once and for all be cut free, while all of Seth’s clay figures, his “jars“ all have looks of alarm and shock on their faces.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Storm, White Queen, Wolverine (all X-Men)

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

Seth Walker

Nurse Christine Palmer

Dr. Louis Childs

Meredith Walker / Sandra Manning

Crowd of onlookers

Story Notes: 

Nightcrawler’s early days in the circus can be seen in Excalibur #minus 1 and X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4. His foster brother, Stefan Szardos’ story was told in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4.

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