Nightcrawler (3rd series) #5

Issue Date: 
March 2005
Story Title: 
Ghosts On The Tracks: part 1: And Kurt Hopped The A-Train…

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (writer), Darick Robertson (pencils), Wayne Faucher (inks), Avalon’s Matt Milla (colors), VC’s Rory Petit (letters), Greg Land (cover), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Having some time off, Nightcrawler takes Nurse Christine Palmer, Storm and Wolverine to an opera. After it, they go to the subway, wanting to ride back home. Waiting for the train to arrive, Christine flirts a bit with Kurt. Suddenly, a woman screams. The team goes to check it out and notice hundreds of rats sitting on the train tracks, looking like they are being chased by something. A train finally comes, but it’s obviously out of control, due to its fast speed. The X-Men teleport inside and, while Wolverine calms the passengers down, Storm tries to stop the train and Kurt and Christine go check up on the conductor, who they find dead. Suddenly, Kurt notices a man standing on the tracks. He teleports to the man, but can see right through him! The man attacks Kurt but, as he phases right through the elf, the man vanishes! The train stops, and no other casualties are made. Kurt’s confused, even when it appears that none of his friends have seen what he did. Storm and Wolverine fly back home, and Kurt goes with Christine to her place, where he takes a shower. They talk about their relationship, but Kurt just wants to stay friends. He gets a call from Storm, who had gotten a call from the mayor of New York. He wants to talk to someone of the X-Men about the train situation. Kurt goes to meet the man, and agrees on helping to solve the situation. He gets a list from the victims so far, and goes to visit Mrs. Warren, the train conductor’s wife. The woman explains to Kurt that her husband used to talk to her about the ghosts. Having heard that, Kurt returns to the subways. He goes deeper and deeper into the tunnels, and ends up confronted by twelve zombies!

Full Summary: 

Nightcrawler, Storm and Wolverine have just taken some downtime and, along with Nurse Palmer, they’ve went to see the Phantom of the Opera. Kurt jokes about it, but admits that it was the very first show he came to see when he moved to New York 10 years ago.

Storm wonders why she and Logan agreed to come along this night. Logan says because Kurt wanted to make it clear to Christine that he’s only keeping their relationship friendly like, and since the producer of the show gave Kurt four free tickets, Logan saw no reason as for not to come. Storm doesn’t see why they don’t take the X-plane back home. Logan answer that’s because Christine apparently gets airsick.

Suddenly, a woman near them screams. The X-Men look down, and see hundreds of rats sitting on the train tracks! Kurt notices that the rats seem to be panicking, like they are being chased by something. Suddenly, a train shows up, but it moves too fast. Everyone realizes that something’s wrong. But none of them see that the conductor is in a bad condition. Everyone moves back, but not Kurt. Storm orders the other people to stay back, as they’ll handle things. Logan notices Kurt staring at the train and pulls him back before the elf gets hit. Kurt’s confused, but thanks his friend for the rescue. Kurt teleports everyone inside the train, hoping to find out what’s wrong.

Chrstine asks Kurt to take her to the conductor, because she thinks that, if something happened to him, she might be able to help him. Logan stays behind and tells the passengers to move to the last station of the train, since this is an emergency situation. At first, the crowd ignores him and ask him why they should do that. Logan smiles, and snikts his claws open, telling the crowd that he doesn’t want to see them hurt.

Meanwhile, Christine tells Kurt that the conductor is dead. Kurt hopes that he’ll be able to teleport two or maybe three people out at the same time, but fears that he won’t be able to rescue anyone. Suddenly, the train seems to slow down. They look out the window, and see Storm short-circuiting the subway’s third rail with bolts of lightning, thereby cutting its power. Logan managed to get the crowd to the last station and jokes around. Christine thinks that the conductor has been frightened to death. Kurt notices a worker standing on the train tracks.

He teleports to the man, asking to move. But, the man is all see-through. The man says “seventeen of us” and strikes out at Nightcrawler! Kurt dodges, and the man phases right through Kurt; and then the man’s gone. Vanished. With the train now stopped, Storm, Wolverine and Christine walk out of it to Kurt. He’s startled and doesn’t know what to make of it. But none of his friends have seen the man, which Kurt believes to have been a ghost or something.

Storm asks Logan to take Kurt back to his place, so that he can relax and shower. But Logan has a better idea. Some time later, Kurt and Christine share a cab and ride to her apartment, where he showers. Kurt thanks her, and Christine flirts a bit. Kurt asks Christine to make sure that they’re just friends. Christine jokes that they’re not going to have a “talk” are they? Christine knows that Kurt has commitment issues, since she saw it on VHI’s “Behind the Heroes” special on TV, but she thought that they both liked each other.

Kurt admits that he does like Christine, but just as a friend. Christine asks Kurt if this is about Storm, because she noticed him starting at her the entire evening. Kurt’s X-link beeper goes off, so he wants to go answer it. Christine finds that okay but, before he goes, she tells Kurt that, if they both like each other, they can be just that for right now. Storm asks Kurt if he can go to city hall, and meet with the mayor’s people. They want to meet one of the X-Men and talk about the disturbances that happened recently on the train tracks. Kurt doesn’t find that a problem since he always looks for an excuse to stay in the city, but he wants to hear one thing again: did Storm just say “disturbances?” Plural?

Some time later, Kurt has made it to the Mayor’s office. The mayor tells Kurt that there have been almost two dozen incidents on the stations, at least that are the ones they are aware of. He explains that the first one happened on October in 2003, when a man waiting for a train at the west 4th street station claimed to have seen what Kurt claims to have seen tonight. The mayor informs Kurt that there has been an article about it in the Daily Bugle, but Kurt hasn’t read that. The mayor further explains that the article described that the sightings, or encounters or whatever, have increased in frequency and, which is even more troublesome, in threat, these last few months. Currently there are four deaths, including the train conductor’s earlier tonight, and they have been linked to the “ghosts.”

Kurt thinks that it really was a ghost, but the mayor just can’t believe it and actually say the words. But Kurt knows what he saw tonight. He knows that what he felt in the subway tunnel. Kurt noticed how the air around him was getting cold and the hair on his hands standing up. Kurt says that if there have ever been other incidents, if they are getting worse and if people really are dying because of them, the mayor really has to call in some help. The mayor doesn’t know who, and thought that Kurt and his kind would want to help, after they destroyed the city for the most part. And the mayor knows that Kurt is skilled enough, since he has been informed that Kurt stopped the demon cult. Kurt wants to say that it was just dumb luck, and that he isn’t Dr. Strange or Brother Voodoo.

The mayor asks Kurt if he knows that the city is celebrating New York’s subway system centennial. Hearing the mayor saying those words, Kurt suddenly understands everything, but keeps his thoughts for himself at the moment. Kurt realizes that the Mayor wants the X-Men to help him, instead of say the Fantastic Four, because the X-Men are used to work “under the radar.” The mayor further reveals that the oldest underground transportation system is in the country, running continuously since October 4, 1904. Kurt tells the Mayor that he realizes he doesn’t want any bad publicity, but the mayor claims that his primary concern is the safety of his citizens.

The mayor gives Kurt some information his aides found about the victim’s surviving relatives. Kurt walks out of city hall, and contacts the first woman on the list: Mrs. Warren. Kurt goes so see her, who thanks him for trying to save her husband’s life. The police have told her all about it. Mrs. Warren sadly tells Kurt that her husband had been talking about the ghosts for months, claiming to first only see them in his peripheral vision. He said that they were hovering in the gaps between the train cars. But her husband also told her that the ghosts only appeared when he was alone in the train, and weren’t threatening at all. Not until recently, at least.

Kurt asks Mrs. Warren if she has any idea why the ghosts would have killed her husband Scott. The woman asks Kurt how much he knows about ghosts. She asks if he knows that ghosts are bound dead people. That they are people who can’t let go, or don’t want to after their death? Mrs. Warren thinks that maybe, the ghosts are holding on for revenge, maybe, or something. Or because they’ve left something undone, something unfinished. Or because… she hesitates. Mrs. Warren tells Kurt that, the week before her Scott died, he told her that he thought that the ghosts maybe needed help. But Scott couldn’t explain why. Scott just sensed it, he said. And now, Mrs. Warren thinks that the ghosts wanted Scott’s help and he couldn’t give it, and maybe that’s the reason why they killed him.

Nightcrawler leaves the Warren’s apartment and heads back underground. He reads, according to the mayor’s file, that all of the ghostly sightings have occurred on the subway’s A-line, running up and down New York’s west side. Kurt spends two hours teleporting between subway cars and trains, looking for… anything. He gets some dirty looks from the people waiting for a train because of his blue fur. But not as many as you’d think. Kurt gets three phone numbers, too. From woman who are attractive but not as attractive as Christine.

Kurt recalls that the ghost he met said something like “seventeen of us.” He wonders what it means, and what’s next. Twelve zombies, maybe? Kurt goes deeper into the tunnels ahead of them, which get only darker. Kurt knows that in New York, the subway system never shuts down. But this late, three or four in the morning or something, trains are few and far between. Kurt decides to cover more ground on foot. He follows the tracks and bamfs out of the way in case a train does show up.

As the minutes tick off, and he walks and walks, Kurt thinks of the Mayor. He wonders if the man is as concerned as he claims he is, and if that’s so why he doesn’t postpone the centennial celebration. Kurt also thinks of Mrs. Warren. He thinks of her sitting awake in that cold, dark apartment, and it occurs to him that there are all kinds of hauntings in the world, and that Mrs. Warren is going to be haunted by loneliness, and grief and uncertainty for a very long time. Kurt thinks of… he stops walking.

His flashlight goes out! Now, it’s completely dark in the tunnels. Kurt isn’t afraid of the dark, since he can see better than other people thanks to his special yellow eyes. But Kurt has brought extra batteries, so he tries to replace them. Suddenly, he hears a sound. Whistling? Kurt manages to get the batteries right, and turns the flashlight back on. But, as he does that, Kurt freaks out. In front of him, he literally sees twelve zombies!

Characters Involved: 

Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine (all X.S.E.)

Christine Palmer

Scott Warren (train conductor)

Mrs. Warrren (his now widow)

the Mayor of New York (unnamed and face in shadows)

twelve zombies and a ghost (all unnamed)

various train passengers (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The destruction of the city the mayor refers to is the most recent attack of the Xorn/Magneto-imitator from New X-Men (1st series) #146-150.

Nightcrawler has always found Storm to be very beautiful, as of the beginning they both joined the X-Men, but his feelings for her have just recently gotten stronger after a waltz with her in Uncanny X-Men #446.

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