Nightcrawler (4th series) #12

Issue Date: 
May 2015
Story Title: 
The Heroes rise!

Chris Claremont (writer), Todd Nauck (artisit), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Travis Lanham (letterer), Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg (cover artists), Xander Jarowey (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mike Marts (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler and Bloody Bess are forced to battle the Warwolves, while Ziggy, Rico and the Bamfs are ordered to retreat to the Blackbird. But en route, Rico reminds Ziggy that they have to rescue all of the children here on the Slaver world, and he thinks getting to Tullamore Voge is the way to do it. Ziggy agrees. One of the Bamfs teleports back and tells Nightcrawler this news, but he is too busy battling the Warwolves, with whom he has plenty of experience against. Bess however is in trouble, as one of the Warwolves gets close to draining her. Rico and the Bamfs find Tullamore Voge, and attack his Hounds that protect him. Voge makes a run for it, but Rico and the Bamfs apprehend him, and teleport him to a cage inside the Blackbird, where Ziggy is armed with a weapon. The battle against the Warwolves continues, and the strange creatures remember one of their battles against Excalibur. Nightcrawler manages to take some of them down, but Bess has almost been completely drained. Her astral form continues to put up a fight, but she is losing. Nightcrawler finds a long chain and starts to tangle the Warwolves together in the chain, and once they are all tied up, he rushes over to Bess. He is determined not to have his heart broken again, and Bess wakes, revived from the attack as Rico, Ziggy and the Bamfs teleport in. One of the Warwolves makes a final attempt at taking the heroes out, but Bess defeats him with her psychic power. With Voge captured, the heroes set about returning the children to their homes, although some of them no longer have homes, and the Slavers are all imprisoned. Back on Earth, Ziggy and Rico have donned new costumes, resembling their future selves, and they are tagging the Blackbird as a warning to anyone else who plans to mess with them. Nightcrawler is catching up with Psylocke and Rachel Grey, and explains that he and Bess spent some time together, but now she has gone to look for the Crimson Pirates, who Voge sold as slaves. Nightcrawler remembers Amanda Sefton, Jean Grey and Wolverine, and knows that he must follow the examples they have set. He holds a baseball, and Ziggy, Rico and the remaining captive kids who didn't have families to return to and now live at the Jean Grey School, join him for a game of baseball, as Nightcrawler tells himself that he is going to start to make the world a better place.


Full Summary: 

An alleyway in an industrial slaver zone, where Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, Bloody Bess, Rico, Ziggy Karst and several Bamfs are confronted by several Warwolves, while dozens of mutant children slaves watch on from nearby. Kurt readies his swords and thinks that he hates Warwolves. He recalls that they were the first true adversaries of Excalibur, and in that battle they nearly stole the soul and body of Kitty Pryde. The Warwolves are predators who feed on the life-essence of their victims and then wear their skins like a new suit of clothes – they are right at home working for Tullamore Voge. 'And we are their latest prey' Kurt adds, while one of the Warwolves tells Nightcrawler that they have waited a long time for vengeance. 'Not here, Warwolf – and not in this lifetime!' Kurt calls back. Bess stands ready to fight, as do the Bamfs, while Rico and Ziggy look scared, and hug each other. Kurt releases his cape, which falls onto one of the Warwolves, trapping it, and he strikes another with his sword. He thinks that a lot has happened since he returned to life, and not all of it pleasant. He decides that for too long he kept his feelings under a tight hold, almost like he was afraid of the consequences should he release that grief and rage. But against the Warwolves, he can cast off all restraint. He has lost too many of those he cares for – and decides that he will lose no more.

Suddenly, Bess appears before Rico and Ziggy in her astral form, and tells the kids that it is time for  them to go, that the Bamfs will get them safely to the Blackbird. 'Leave the baddies to us!' she exclaims. 'Bess has gone astral; she's speaking to us telepathically while she fights!' Ziggy realizes. 'Let us stay. We want to help!' Rico pleads. Kurt's astral form appears and tells the children that this is no time for an argument, as the Warwolves change everything. 'I need you to trust me and do as you're told – now go!' he orders. Rico, Ziggy and the Bamfs run down the alleyway, 'No back talk, Rico?' Ziggy asks. 'Are you kidding, Ziggy? I've never seen Professor Wagner so serious!' Rico replies. The kids and the Bamfs come to a stop as they reach a balcony and look out over the industrial slaver zone, they see Slavers and Hounds tormenting more children. 'You still sound pretty steamed' Ziggy tells Rico. 'Is that really a surprise? Take a look around' Rico exclaims. 'They're just kids, Ziggy. Kids like us! Only we get to run away – to go home safe and sound – and they're all still slaves. I'm sorry, but that sucks!' Rico shouts. Rico announces that he is not going to stand for it, that he won't abandon these kids any more than the X-Men would abandon them. 'You have a plan?' Ziggy asks. Rico tells her that he does, and points out that Tullamore Voge runs this nightmare, so if they bring him down, they might just upset his whole applecart. Ziggy tells him it is crazy, but it might just work. 'Let's do it!' she exclaims.

Back in the alleyway, the Warwolves close in on Bess and Kurt. 'We got a problem' Bess calls out to Kurt, who replies that he knows, as the Bamfs just told him – the kids are hunting down Voge themselves. He remarks that it is not a bad idea, and wishes they could help. 'Unfortunately – a far more pressing...and immediate our basic survival!' Kurt exclaims as he dodges one Warwolf, flips over another, and lands on its head. He knows he hit the Warwolf hard, but all he did was make him mad. 'Stand still, curse ya!' the Warwolf shouts as it reaches out to grab Kurt. 'You want me to make this easy?' Kurt smiles. 'I don't think so' he adds as he moves away from the Warwolf's punch. Suddenly, 'I got him!' a Warwolf declares as it appears behind Kurt and wraps its arms around him. 'This is the moment I been waiting for! Trust me, mutie – now you're gonna hurt!' another Warwolf declares, but as it lunges towards Kurt to punch him, Kurt slips out of the other Warwolf's grasp, causing the second Warwolf to punch the first. He hopes the Warwolf's punch has more of an impact than his own, before a telepathic cry for help resonates around him.

'BESS!' Nightcrawler shouts as he looks over to see Bess at the mercy of one of the Warwolves, who has grabbed her, and his Ghost-Wolves hover around her. 'I'll hold ya fast – while they drain the life right outta ya!' the Warwolf exclaims, and Bess screams, while Kurt races towards her, 'Stop it! You're killing her!' he pleads, before he is tackled to the ground by three Warwolves. 'That's the idea, duh-head! Just like we're gonna kill you!' one of them exclaims.

Elsewhere, several Hounds lead Tullamore Voge down an alleyway. 'Why is this taking so long? Those cretins promised me quick results!' Voge exclaims, when, suddenly, the Bamfs teleport in around Voge, accompanied by Rico, who pushes one of the Hounds into the Slavemaster and tells him that sometimes fate has better ideas. The Bamfs latch on to two of the Hounds and teleport them away. 'My guards!' Voge exclaims as he lies on the ground. There is still one Hound left, and he raises his swords as he moves towards Rico. 'Foolish boy, there's still one left. Kill the freak!' Voge commands. 'Slice you wide, I will!' the Hound declares. 'Wanna bet?' Rico replies, as he grabs the Hound by his wrists, and falls backwards, with the Hound over him. 'I ain't the one who's on his back, brat. Ain't nothing you can do about it, neither!' the Hound declares. 'Stop blathering, wretch – just kill him!' Voge shouts. The Hound warns Rico that holding his hands won't save him, as he will just crush the life right out of him. 'Actually, I got a better idea – using my tail!' Rico exclaims as he swings his tail up and smacks the Hound with it, enabling himself to escape, and fly after Voge, who has started to run away.

'Running away, Slavemaster? I thought you weren't scared of kids. Far as you're concerned, we're all just property' Rico tells Voge, who replies that words are cheap. 'You're no killer' he declares. 'For the likes of you, Voge – there are worsr fates' Rico points out as the Bamfs return, grab Voge and teleport away – into the Blackbird, where Voge finds himself behind bars, and Ziggy on the other side, pointing a weapon at him. 'Where -?' Voge begins. 'Locked up. And you better get used to it, Voge. Your turn to be a captive' Ziggy exclaims. Voge tells her that she will never get away with this. 'Who's gonna stop us?' Ziggy asks, and Voge grins wickedly back at her.

Back in the alleyway, two of the Warwolves try to hold Kurt down. 'Will you idiots get a proper grip on the flesh bag?' the third exclaims. 'He's wriggling too hard!' one of the others replies, while the third exclaims that he is not letting them drain his life energy. 'That's the idea' Kurt tells them, before realizing that there is no more time for fooling, as Bess is fading fast. He looks over and sees Bess's astral form join the battle, while her physical body is almost beyond the point of no return. 'Once we finish these two, we go after their kids!' one of the Warwolves exclaims. 'Voge won't like that' another points out. 'Do I look like I care?' the first asks, while the third claims Nightcrawler's skin. Kurt tells the Warwolves that he would be very careful if he was them. 'Remember what happened when you tried to claim Kitty?' he asks. The Warwolves stop and remember, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers and Captain Britain looking on as Shadowcat climbed into one of the warwolves. 'Open wide, you sludge! Like it our not – I'm coming through!' Kitty warned the Warwolf. 'You're scared!' one of the Warwolves exclaims. 'Total wimp!' the other agrees. 'Am not! It's just, with mutants – weird things happen' the third points out.

'Don’t be such an -' one of them begins, before Kurt's tail wraps around its neck, and it is yanked backwards. 'Uh-oh' one of the others mutters, before Kurt bangs the two Warwolves together. Kurt rises up over the fallen Warwolves, 'Hang on, Bess! I'm not letting you go!' Kurt calls out. Bess's astral form tells Kurt that he better have a plan, and that he better be quick, for she can't hold on much longer. 'The girl's almost done. You deal with the mutie!' the Warwolf holding Bess's limp body calls out. 'No problem!' another boasts, as it moves towards Kurt, who flips backwards, his legs poised to kick the approaching Warwolf. Kurt tells himself that there is no margin of error, no hope of any do over – his every move now has to be perfect. 'What?' the surprised Warwolf exclaims as it makes impact with Kurt's feet, sending the Warwolf careening backwards through the air, Kurt tosses a chain around the Warwolf's ankle, and smashes it into the other Warwolf, who releases Bess's body. 'This can't be happening!' the Warwolf exclaims. Bess's astral form battles the Ghost-Wolves, 'Great move, lover. But my body's right on the edge of oblivion. I can't hold out any longer' Bess calls out. Kurt pulls on the chain, and tells Bess that she won't have to.

'You wanna save the girl, mutant? You're gonna have to beat us first!' one of the Warwolves exclaims as it lunges towards Kurt, who tells it 'That's the plan', as he pulls on the chain, and wraps it around all of the Warwolves that rush towards him. 'Guess what, mutie? I'm still free – your plan's a bust!' it calls out. 'Wanna bet?' Kurt replies, as he wraps the chain around the Warwolf's hand, and it is pulled towards the others, as Kurt remarks that hhe comes from the circus, one of the first things he learned was how to lasso wild animals. 'This isn't fair!' the Warwolf complains. Kurt wraps the Warwolves up together so tight that they can't escape, and leaves them hanging above the alley. He rushes over to Bess, he can't hear her voice inside his head anymore, and the telepathic images she has been sending him are starting to fade. Her body appears little more than skin and bones. 'Hear my thoughts, Bess – hold on! As God is my witness  I will not let you die!' Kurt thinks to himself.

Kurt holds Bess in his arms, he reminds her that he isn't a telepath, so he can't reach her that way, even with his power, he can't teleport beyond the beyond. 'All I can offer is my will' he declares. He asks Bess to hear his voice, and tells her that he will be her anchor, that he will bring her home. 'Reach out to my soul and grab hold' he tells her. Suddenly, the Bamfs teleport back into the alley, along with Rico and Ziggy. 'What's happening?' Rico enquires. 'It doesn't look good' Ziggy points out. Kurt tells the kids that all they can do now is pray, for Bess's fate is truly in the hands of God. Behind them, one of the Warwolves stirs, and growls. 'I will not stand for this. I did not return from the beyond just to see my friends take my place. I will not have my heart broken again' Nightcrawler declares. 'Music to my ears, lover' Bess remarks. 'You're alive!' Kurt exclaims. 'You noticed' Bess tells him, as she kisses him on the lips. 'I'll do far more than that' Kurt replies, as he wraps his arms around Bess and they continue to kiss. 'Oh yes please' Bess utters. The Bamfs all smile, while Rico exclaims 'Way to go, Nightcrawler!' and Ziggy covers her eyes, asking them to get a room.

'You heard me' Kurt tells Bess, who touches his face and points out that the way he was yelling, it was impossible not to. 'Elf, you literally woke the – Kurt, look out!' Bess exclaims, before Kurt teleports himself and Bess out of the way, as the Warwolf who growled nearby lunges at them. 'He teleported. No matter – I can still feast on the children!' the Warwolf declares. 'Not even in your dreams, slug. Just be thankful Nightcrawler's a good influence on me' Bess tells the creature as she knocks it out with a psychic blast. 'Otherwise, I'd happily tear you apart' Bess remarks. Nightcrawler crouches over the Warwolf, 'Truth to tell, I think I'd help' he admits, before telling Bess that would not be a good example for the children. 'We won this battle, Kurt. What happens next?' Bess asks. Rico informs Kurt that they have Voge locked in a cell aboard the Blackbird, 'Does that help?' he asks. 'Sneaky kids – I like that' Bess smiles. 'I say – let's go win the war... and set these children free!' Kurt grins.

It isn't an easy struggle, and it takes time. But in the end, heroes prevail. Ziggy, Rico and Bess return home safe with Kurt, many of the stolen children are returned safely to their homes as well. For some, though, there are neither homes nor families to be found. The Slavers were ruthless. They can consider the cost of those crimes in prison – for the rest of their unnatural lives.

Inside the hangar bay at the Jean Grey School, 'That a new look, Rico?' Ororo Munro a.k.a. Storm calls out to Rico, who is wearing the costume he previously saw his future self wearing. 'Shape of things to come, Storm. Professor Wagner felt we'd earned it' he explains. Storm asks him what he is doing here, and Ziggy, wearing her red and white costume, explains that they are tagging the Blackbird. 'Slavers we busted and the kids we rescued. Anyone who messes with us is gonna know they're in trouble' she declares, standing on a platform around the outside of the Blackbird, painting faces on it. 'This is a serious choice. Are you are?' Storm asks. 'Absolutely' the kids reply in unison. Storm remarks that Kurt has taught them well, as Charles Xavier taught them. 'You should both be proud. Together, you have both made a difference'.

'Where's that?' Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke asks as she looks at a photo Kurt is holding – a photo of he and Bess. 'A very private hideaway' Kurt replies as they sit on a sofa in a living area, Rachel Grey is with them. 'Naughty lad' Betsy smiles. 'She saved my life, Betsy' Kurt replies. 'You saved hers, boyo. Doesn't that make you even?' Betsy asks. Kurt explains that there is a bond between them. 'What about Amanda?' Betsy asks. Kurt tells Betsy that it is a different bond, no less real, and that he will trust in fate that things will work out happily for them all. 'But you came back alone' Rachel points out. Kurt teleports over to the window and gazes out, revealing that Voge sold the Crimson Pirates as slaves, and Bess went looking for them. 'Once they're free, we'll see what happens next between us'. Kurt adds that Bess is, after all, a psychotic killer, and in the meantime, he has responsibilities of his own. He looks down to see Rico and Ziggy leading the rescued mutant slaves about on a tour of the Jean Grey School.

Kurt walks across a field, of course, he worries about Bess. He offered to help, but Bess refused. Her path was not his, she said, and she said she must walk it alone. Kurt's mind accepts her argument, but his heart worries. He holds a baseball in his hand, 'What can I say? I may be both mutant and X-Man... but at the bedrock, for better, for worse, I am a child of God. As such, I must follow the example of my friends...and use my abilities to try to make our world better'. Kurt smiles as he thinks of Amanda Sefton, Jean Grey and Wolverine. He looks over to see Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Rachel Grey walking behind the rescued slave children, while Rico, Ziggy and the Bamfs rush towards Kurt. 'This is who we do it for. The next generation. To give them a future worthy of their potential' Kurt tells himself. 'We're here, Professor Wagner, just like you asked!' Rico calls out. 'Us and all the newbies we rescued' Ziggy adds. Kurt smiles at them, 'Thank yo you both, Rico and Ziggy'. He tells them and Rachel to come out on the field with him, this game will be them and the Bamfs versus everyone else.

Everyone takes their positions on the field, as Kurt tells the youngsters that it is time to introduce them to an old and classic X-Men tradition. 'As super heroes, we're often called on to fight evil and save the world. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun' he smiles, before announcing that he will introduce them to what a dear old friend called “The Fastball Special”. Everyone looks excited, and Kurt grins, deciding that here is where he starts to make this world better.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Storm (all X-Men)

Rico & Ziggy Karst (both X-Men Students)


Bloody Bess


Tullamore Voge





Mutant slaves / new X-Men students


In Flashback Image

Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)



In Nightcrawler's Thoughts

Amanda Sefton, Jean Grey & Wolverine

Story Notes: 

Final issue of Nightcrawler (4th series).

Excalibur fought the Warwolves in Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn #1, Excalibur (1st series) #1-2, which is when Shadowcat was almost overtaken by them, and again in Excalibur (1st series) #40-41.


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