Nightcrawler (3rd series) #6

Issue Date: 
April 2005
Story Title: 
Ghosts On The Tracks: part 2: Voices Of The Dead

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

Brief Description: 

After the zombies led Nightcrawler through the tunnels, he found some things that looked to him like pins. Curious about them, Kurt takes them to Beast, who discovers that they’re actually human bones, maybe fifty or sixty years old. After they talk about their rough love lives, Kurt has another idea. He takes one of the bones to Magik in Limbo. She uses necromancy magic on them, and talks to the bone. She discovers that all the bones were from the men who created the tunnels, but were killed in an accident. Amanda gives Kurt a thought how he might could solve the problem. After an agreement with the mayor of New York City, they go for it. At the centennial party of the subway, the Mayor recognizes the sacrifices the zombies made when they worked on the tunnels and recognizes their deaths to their surviving relatives to make amends for past mistakes, as they tried to cover it all up. The zombies are pleased and vaporize, thanking Kurt for his work. Later, he goes to tell Christine about it and thinks some lives could have been rescued should he have thought faster, like for example the train conductor’s. Christine makes Kurt understand not to beat himself up about it, as he did everything he could. Kurt thanks Christine and calls her a good friend. This upsets her, as she wanted to be more to Kurt, but understands if he doesn’t want to. Kurt tries to explain himself but Christine tells him not to, and fakes that she’s fine with it.

Full Summary: 

Nightcrawler tells his story to Beast. He explains that, 100 years ago this week, New York’s landscape changed forever when Mayor George McClellan pulled the lever that set the city’s first subway train in motion. With McClellan at the controls and people celebrating both above and below ground, the train shot up from city hall to 145th street, then back down again. Kurt discovered that it took four years to build the 9-mile long tunnel and 26 stations that made up the first subway line. And those early rides only cost a nickel.

Beast jokes that it now also only costs two dollars, which isn’t that much either. Kurt agrees, but asks Hank to consider there are now 722 miles of tunnels and over 450 stations to pay and maintain. And that the single longest subway line, the “A” express route from 207th street in Northern Manhattan to the Rockaways in Queens, is 32 miles long. Kurt explains that the city’s original, historical subway line, on which McClellan took his ride, was absorbed into the “A” express route, many decades ago. Kurt believes that maybe this explains why now, on the eve of the subway’s centennial, that the “A” is the subway line that’s being haunted. Beast doesn’t see the point. Kurt explains what happened when he found the ghosts in the dark tunnel.

Kurt remembers how one of the ghosts tried to kill him with a big hammer. Luckily, Kurt could just barely jump away before the impact. More and more zombies seemed to appear, and outnumbered Kurt. He teleported away from them, until he found one zombie standing on the sidelines. Kurt grabbed the zombie by his throat and demanded to know what was going on. From the moment he grabbed the zombie, Kurt could sense that they really were in the need of help, like Mrs. Warren had told him earlier.

At that point, Kurt simply asked the zombies if they really needed help. They transformed back into their human forms, and all pointed Kurt in the right direction, which leaded even deeper down in the tunnels. Kurt laughs, because it really looked like something from the movie “The Grudge.” Nightcrawler explains that he followed the ghosts for what felt like miles, until he ended up in a room with deserted bones and bodies. He heard that whistling again. When exploring, Kurt found a hole in a wall and saw that he was in the 145th station.

Nightcrawler searched deeper and, in some cement, found what looks like several pins. He wanted to ask the zombies and ghosts what it was, but they vanished. And that’s why he came to Beast, to ask him to run a few tests on the pin. Kurt would have asked Christine, but they are not on the best of terms at the moment. Beast is a bit jealous at Kurt, because Hank too is blue and furry and can’t get a single date, while Kurt is blue and furry and even manages to get multiple dates!

But despite the jealousy, Hank runs the test and just by looking at the pin can conclude that he has a human bone in his hands, probably the pin is from someone’s jaw or skull. Kurt is surprised that Hank actually knows this by just looking at it, but Hank remembers his teammates that he is a trained pathologist, and has seen plenty when he tried to put Emma Frost’s diamond body back together a while ago.

Kurt asks Hank how old the bones are, and wants to know how many years that they have been down in the tunnels. Beast thinks, from the looks of it, maybe fifty or sixty years. He’ll run some tests on it. Kurt asks if he can take one of the bones for someone else to research. Hank permits that, but wouldn’t know, besides Reed Richards’, which lab or research sources would be more advanced than his. Kurt knows exactly whose.

He teleports back to Limbo, where he’s greeted by a surprised Brad and Roger. Magik’s a bit surprised too to see Kurt again, and asks him if he’s going to come visit on a regular basis now. If so, she wants to prepare some things and they can even share their toiletries. Kurt changes the subject and asks Amanda if she can help him with the bone. She’s confident that she can, as the bone itself will reveal everything there is to know about it. Kurt’s confused. Magik reveals that the only thing they need is a little magic called necromancy. She shows Kurt her table, which has all kinds of necromancy signs on it.

Amanda further explains to Kurt that necromancy magic is actually talking to the dead. Amanda claims to be trained medium with acute ESP, so she sees herself as the most skilful occultist currently living, with the exception of Dr. Strange. Amanda concentrates and soon discovers that the bone used to belong of a man. All of the zombies Kurt saw were men when they were alive, and that they spent most of their lives in the dark. Kurt asks, "Underground." Amanda tells Kurt that the bone tells her that they whistled to pass the time. The man the bone belongs to tried to warn their foreman that they were working too fast and that the men were all tired. Kurt asks if the “men” Amanda refers to are the man’s co-workers. Not just that, she says, they were his family!

Kurt goes back to the mayor’s office and searches through his books and files, and after hours finds a suspicious date: October 25, 1903. He finds the article in the archive, and the headline reads “18 believed dead!” A hole widens inside Kurt’s stomach as he reads on. He phones the Mayor that he has found something and will come to him, but first needs to make a quick stop. Kurt goes back to the tunnels, and speaks. Nobody’s there, but Kurt hopes that the zombies are listening and promises them that he will set things right.

Kurt returns to the mayor and hands him over the information he found. The mayor finds it distressing. Kurt asks the mayor what he means: the accident itself or that no reparations have been made to the victim’s surviving relatives. Because, Kurt adds, that’s the only article he could find about the men’s deaths. There were no follow-ups. Nothing. And that makes Kurt think that there was some sort of cover-up. The mayor wonders why nothing has ever been done to it, and why it just now comes to light. Kurt smiles that perhaps it’s easier to let sleeping dogs lie. The mayor says, whatever the reason, he knows about it now. He takes out his cell phone and wants to see if he can do some more digging, and pay off some long-standing debts.

Those next few days, leading up to the centennial’s kick-off party at City Hall, the tunnels along the A-line were mercifully quiet. The X-Men are present at the party as well, and well prepared, should anything happen. Both Cyclops and Kurt notice the zombies, and Kurt says that they started materializing a few minutes ago, waiting to see if Kurt would keep his word. The mayor begins his speech and later on tells the gathered crowd to memorialize the people who sacrificed their lives to build the lines all those many years ago, admitting the town’s mistake and to amend with the surviving relatives. The zombies started vaporizing and, smiling, wave Kurt goodbye.

Later, Kurt goes to tell his story against Christine. She wants to know how Kurt and the mayor came up with the idea to talk about the mistake publicly. He admits that it was Amanda who gave him the idea when he visited her. Christine hopes that the mayor means what he said, or otherwise she fears that the ghosts might come back, angrier than ever before.

Kurt thinks how easily some deaths could have been avoided, like the train conductor, should he have thought faster. Christine tells Kurt not to beat himself up, as she knows he did everything he could. Kurt thanks Christine for the kind words, and calls her a good friend. This upset Christine a bit, that she can’t be more, but she claims to be okay with it. Kurt wants to explain, but Christine tells him not to, as she’s fine.

Characters Involved: 

Storm, Nightcrawler (both X.S.E.)

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Magik II

Christine Palmer

Brad & Roger (snakes guarding Magik’s house in Limbo)

Mrs. Warren (dead train conductor’s widow)

various zombies (all unnamed)

Mayor of New York (unnamed and face unseen)

Story Notes: 

Beast was loved previously by many women when he was in his “blue ape” form. He even had a longstanding on-off relationship with the beautiful reporter, Trish Tilby. But, when Beast’s secondary mutation kicked in, he was transformed in his current “lion” form, and was repelled by most women. Trish even feared for her career should she be seen with Hank in this state, and dumped him. Hank even faked that he was gay for a while and gained a lot of good response from the homosexual populace of the world, but later admitted that was just an attempt to get back at Trish. [X-Treme X-Men #3, New X-Men #117]

A while ago, Emma Frost was shot while in diamond form, and her body fell into a thousand different pieces. Beast did his up-most best to put her back together, but it was eventually Jean who used her Phoenix powers to do the trick and re-animate her. [New X-Men #139-141]

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