X-Men 2 Prequel: Nightcrawler

Issue Date: 
May 2003
Story Title: 
X-Men 2 Prequel: Nightcrawler

Chuck Austen (writer), Karl Kershl (artist), Jung Choi’s Transperency Digital (colorist), Paul Tutrone (letterer), Mike Raicht & Nova Ren Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

A circus act is well underway at the Szardos Travelling Circus in Canada, however this time, Kurt Wagner changes the script and begins ad-libbing and doing things he shouldn’t. His co-star and foster sister Amanda plays along, and the audience seem interested, however, Kurt drops Amanda and her boyfriend, trapeze artist Werner, is not able to grab her in time. As there is no net below, Kurt uses his mutant abilities to teleport down and grab Amanda, cushioning her fall as they both hit the ground. Afterwards, Margali Szardos scolds her foster son, who sees Amanda and Werner together and claims that the devil made him do it. Kurt goes to a church for solace, and is surprisingly, soon visited by Amanda, who soon plants a kiss on Kurt, and reveals that she does have feelings for him. Obviously, Kurt responds in kind, and Amanda suggests that they leave together. Making their way through a forest, Amanda comments that Margali would never accept Kurt as a son-in-law, revealing that she wants to marry Kurt, and the kiss some more. However, In truth, Kurt is caught up in an illusion, as General Stryker and his officers close in on the mutant and capture him, of course Kurt is unaware that this is happening. The real Amanda, meanwhile, is caught making out with Werner, much to Margali’s disapproval. Margali informs Amanda that Kurt is missing. Kurt, however, believes he is in a room with Amanda, only for the truth to be revealed when the illusion fades, and he finds himself in a cell, where he is confronted by Stryker who reveals what he knows about Kurt, and introduces him to the collar which inhibits his mutant abilities. Meanwhile, Margali’s concern grows as the circus packs up, ready to move onto its next location, and Kurt is still missing. Kurt is brought a cellmate, a very weak woman, before Kurt is beaten by a soldier called Norris who does not appreciate animals praying to his God. While Amanda and Margali leave with the rest of the circus, Kurt tries to comfort the mysterious woman brought to his cell, when suddenly, massive claws emerge from her finger tips, and after he taunts Norris, Kurt is beaten up once more. The circus sets up in Calgary, and Margali once more expresses her disapproval of Amanda and Werner, and tells Amanda that she could have had Kurt. Amanda is revolted and they argue about why Kurt, with Amanda telling Margali that she treats Kurt the way she does because she learnt it from her. A bloodied and beaten Kurt is brought to Stryker, who then offers Kurt the chance to kill Werner for the appalling way he has treated him. But Kurt rejects the offer. Amanda and Margali reconcile and hope that they get the chance to one day tell Kurt how much they do love him, while Norris informs Kurt that everything regarding Amanda was an illusion, that she was never in love with Kurt and that she even says cruel things about him in reality. Sometime later, Kurt is injected with some genetic material from Mutant Twelve, the mutant who created the illusions, which Stryker can use to force Kurt to kill. And it works, as Kurt’s first assignment - to kill Norris - goes without a hitch. Stryker then informs Kurt that for his next assignment, he will be paying a visit to the President of the United States. Finally, in an unusual move for her, Amanda visit’s a church and prays for Kurt.

Full Summary: 

The Szardos Traveling Circus, currently in Canada. Patrons fill the seats inside the big top tent as another act gets underway for their entertainment. In the arena, circus artists dressed in white cloaks are in some sort of church scenario, ‘Oh, heavenly father, I offer myself to you - your humble servant to do your bidding’ exclaims one of the stars of the show, Amanda, while up above, on the trapeze platform, a blue-skinned young man that looks rather like a demon, keeps telling himself that it is only a show - entertainment, a bit of fun, that he is now demeaning himself by doing this, but adding to the experience with his uniqueness.

‘Show me the way, Oh Lord. Send me a sign!’ exclaims Amanda, when suddenly, the blue-skinned acrobat leaps downwards, carrying a staff that resembles the Devil’s, he lands on a large wooden cross, ‘God has abandoned you, woman! God has abandoned you all!’ he shouts. ‘Noo! It cannot be true!’ a “shocked” Amanda replies with dramatic flair. ‘But it is true!’ the “demon” exclaims as he grabs Amanda. ‘Now, really. Do I look like someone who would lie to you?’ he asks. ‘But he - heeey, that’s now how the script goes!’ Amanda scolds her co-star, Kurt, quietly.

‘It is today, Amanda!’ Kurt exclaims as he yanks the trapeze, sending the two of them bouncing upwards, much to the delight of the audience. Amanda’s shoes fall off as she tells Kurt that he takes her breath away every time that he does that. Landing on a platform, Kurt looks into Amanda’s eyes and tells her that he lives to take her breath away. ‘You…you do?’ Amanda replies, confused, before turning away from Kurt, who has moved in closer, and asks him what has gotten into him tonight. Returning to the performance, Kurt shouts ‘God shall not have you, oh beauteous one! Not this night, nor any other! Tonight, you belong to the Devil!’ Kurt shouts, before laughing wildly as he and Amanda swing on the trapeze.

At the other trapeze platform on the other side of the rink, a handsome acrobat turns to his colleague, both dressed like angels, he mutters that Kurt is ad-lobbing again. ‘How am I supposed to know when my cue is up if he’s ad-lobbing? I’m gonna get all mixed up!’ exclaims Werner. His friend tells him to relax, and reminds him that his cue should be the swing-out anyway. ‘Yes it’s true, ladies and gentlemen! The Devil is a real swinger!’ exclaims Kurt as he and Amanda swing above the audience, who all groan. ‘Help me, oh Lord!’ Amanda exclaims. ‘Send me an angel!’.

‘Hey, where do you think you’re going, lady? I’m not finished with you yet!’ Kurt exclaims while Werner begins to swing out to rescue Amanda. ‘Come on, baby - don’t you know sinners have more fun?’ Kurt asks, to which the audience laugh. Suddenly, Amanda falls from the trapeze, ‘You haven’t lived until you’ve loved a guy with a tail!’ Kurt exclaims, while Amanda screams. ‘Ooooohhhh!’ gasp the audience, as Werner swings into place, but he cannot reach Amanda as she plummets to the ground.

‘Oh no! He missed her!’ a shocked Kurt whispers, before suddenly vanishing with the noise bamf. The other actors look up at Amanda, flailing towards them, while someone in the audience exclaims that the demon has just vanished. ‘It reappeared!’ someone else shouts as indeed, Kurt reappears at Amanda’s side, in another bamf he clutches her, ‘I’ve got you’ he assures her, then he hit’s the ground, cushioning Amanda’s fall. ‘I don’t think this was part of the show…’ one women in the audience remarks, while a man suggests that somebody call an ambulance, and the other circus performers gather around the motionless bodies of Amanda and Kurt.

Later, ‘That was a stupid thing you did, Kurt. Stupid!’ exclaims Margali Szardos inside a tent, where Kurt has just been bandaged up. Margali asks Kurt what he was thinking, and tells him that he cannot change the cues in the middle of the performance - especially when the net has not been rolled out yet. Margali reminds Kurt that he has been with her circus since she found him as a baby and should know better. ‘I said I was sorry’ Kurt mumbles, to which Margali replies that sorry is not good enough.

Margali tells Kurt that he is like a son to her and a brother to Amanda. Margali adds that she does not mean to be harsh, but now that Kurt has broken some ribs, it might be a whole month before he can perform again - and the circus needs him. ‘Why would you do such a thing?’ Margali asks, while outside the tent, Amanda and Werner are locked in an embrace, as Werner asks Amada if she is all right. ‘I am now…’ Amanda replies as she puts her head against Werner’s chest. Kurt watches this through the opening in the tent, and in reply to Margali’s question says ‘I don’t know Margali - I guess I thought - the devil made me do it!’. Margali puts a hand on Kurt’s shoulder and assures him that whatever is bothering him, will work itself out.

Later, inside a church, where Kurt is kneeling, looking up at the altar. ‘I love God. I have to’ he thinks to himself. ‘Without a belief in His divine plan for all of us - a mutant like me, a person born with strange and very inhuman-like-powers - would have no reason to go on’ Kurt thinks. ‘Without God’s love - without a belief that God loves me - what else could there be in life for me?’ he wonders, when a voice calls down to him from the entrance to the church - it’s Amanda. ‘Are you all right?’ she asks, stepping into the light.

Kurt looks at the ground as he replies that he is fine, but embarrassed, before asking her how she knew he would be here. ‘Old theaters, old movies, or the nearest church. You’re sort of predictable that way’ Amanda replies. ‘I suppose I am…’ Kurt remarks, grinning that he will have to be more impulsive in the future. ‘No! Please!’ exclaims Amanda, assuring Kurt that she has had enough of his spontaneity for one day. Kurt apologizes, telling Amanda that he doesn’t know what got into him. ‘I do. You made it very clear’ Amanda replies, before suddenly, kissing Kurt on the lips.

‘If God wasn’t there to love me…who else would?’ Kurt thinks, before kissing Amanda back. After breaking the kiss, Kurt tells Amanda that this is too good to be true, to which Amanda replies that before today, he never let her know how he really felt about her. ‘And besides, ever since mother found you alone and abandoned as a baby, you always seemed to think of me as a sister’ Amanda points out. Kurt however replies that he never thought of Amanda as a sister. ‘I just always assumed you thought of me as a monster!’ he explains, putting his hands on Amanda’s face.

Amanda touches Kurt’s hands and assures him that she never thought of him that way, before suggesting that they leave together - now. ‘Leave? Why?’ asks Kurt. ‘Can’t we just stay with Margali and the circus and just be together?’. Amanda replies that her mother would never approve. ‘She loves you as an adopted child, loves you as a son - but never as a son-in-law’ Amanda replies, reminding Kurt that it was Margali’s idea to put him in the devil costume. ‘How do you think she truly feels about you?’ Amanda asks.

Kurt replies that he knows it was Margali’s idea, but that he never thought of it as a “racist” thing or an anti-mutant thing, that Margali somehow thought less of him. ‘You should hear the things she says about you when you’re not around!’ Amanda exclaims. ‘No…no, I can’t believe -’ Kurt exclaims, to which Amanda assures him that it is true, that Margali tells her things she would never tell Kurt himself. Amanda places her head on Kurt’s shoulder, telling him that they should go away now together. ‘Don’t you want to be with me?’ she asks. A solemn Kurt replies that he does - more than anything.

Meanwhile, at the Szardos Circus, Margali enters a caravan and exclaims ‘Oh, for crying out loud. Have you no shame, Amanda?’ as she sees her daughter sitting on Werner’s lap, arms around his neck as they have been making out, Werner‘s shirt is unbuttoned and Amanda‘s is hanging off her shoulders. ‘Mother, really. Does the word “knock” mean nothing to you?’ Amanda asks.

‘Do the words “This is my trailer” mean nothing to you?’ Margali replies, before asking Amanda if she has seen Kurt anywhere, explaining that she cannot find him around the camp. Amanda replies that she hasn’t since after he was bandaged up following the performance, and asks her mother if she has checked the local church, to which Margali replies that she hasn’t, but supposes that she should.

Nearby in some woods, Kurt and Amanda rush down a path, and Kurt asks Amanda if there is nothing she wants from the caravans, or to say goodbye to her mother. ‘I’ll say goodbye when it’s too late for them to change our plans’ Amanda replies, when suddenly, Kurt asks her to wait. ‘No, Kurt. Keep running!’ Amanda exclaims, but Kurt drops to his knees and tells Amanda that he needs to know something. ‘You said earlier…you said…”son-in-law”. Did you mean that?’ he asks. Amanda replies that she has never meant anything more in her life, to which Kurt exclaims that he never imagined he would ever hear those words from her. ‘I love you, Amanda’ he whispers, before Amanda replies ‘And I, you’ before asking Kurt to kiss her, and promising to show him just how much she loves him.

However - in reality - Kurt is making out with nothing. A group of soldiers suddenly surround him, ‘Disgusting’ remarks the leader, reminding his officers to keep in mind that they are not seeing what the mutant is seeing. ‘What the hell is he seeing?’ one of the soldiers asks, addressing his commander as Mister Stryker. ‘Something that almost makes me wish I were being mind-controlled, apparently’ Stryker remarks, motioning to where Kurt has begun writhing around on the ground, before Stryker orders his soldiers to load Kurt into the truck before it gets too graphic. Stryker explains that Kurt will not feel anything, that he won’t even know they are there.

One of the soldiers asks if there is anything they should be careful of, anything that would disrupt whatever it is that Mutant Twelve is doing to this one. Stryker replies that, apart from distance, nothing can interrupt Mutant Twelve’s unique mind control abilities once they have began. At least, as far as he has been able to ascertain. ‘Ewww. He’s sticking his tongue out, sir. He’s tongueing the air!’ one of the other soldiers exclaims in disgust, while another soldier asks Stryker if there is a time limit, when will the control over the mutant’s mind wear off. ‘When I tell it to, and not before’ Stryker replies.

The next day, at Alkali Lake, Canada, inside a large facility, Kurt lies on a cold bench in a cell, alone, but he believes himself to be in a bed, in a comfortable room with Amanda at his side, telling her that he has never been so happy. ‘Me either. I love you so much, Kurt’ “Amanda” replies, when suddenly, Kurt moans and clutches his head. “Amanda” asks him what is wrong, but as he sits up, Kurt replies that he doesn’t know. Suddenly, “Amanda” begins to fade away. Kurt starts screaming for her, even when the illusion of the luxurious bedroom wears off and he can see his cold cell, he still calls out to her.

‘Shut up you animal!’ a voice calls out via a comm-link. ‘Who is that? What have you done with Amanda!?’ Kurt replies urgently. Suddenly, the doors to the cell open, and Stryker enters, telling Kurt that Amanda is gone and never coming back. ‘Unless…of course…you do as you’re told’ Stryker smirks. ‘Who are you? And what have you done with Amanda?’ Kurt asks. ‘If you’ve hurt her in anyway…’ he begins, to which Stryker assures Kurt that when he sees Amanda again she will be exactly as he remembers her.

‘Now, then…instead of getting into who I am, I’d like to know more about you’ Stryker declares, explaining that the intelligence they have gathered is rather incomplete. Kurt continues to crouch on the floor as Stryker remarks that they know he is highly agile, and speaks five languages, including Swedish. ’We also know that you can move yourself through some kind of dimensional portal - some form of teleportation - and can cover large distances in blink of an eye’. Stryker smirks as he asks Kurt ’What else do I need to know about you?’.

Kurt frowns, when suddenly, he screams in pain and is overwhelmed by a powerful blast. ’Let me guess…you were trying to do that teleportation trick I just mentioned’ Stryker remarks, supposing that something along the lines of “to hell with this” went through Kurt’s little monster mind, and figuring that he could locate Amanda - somehow - find an exit, and make his way to safety. ’Until you discovered that we had considered that option also, motioning to the collar around Kurt’s neck.

‘Hurt’s, doesn’t it?’ Stryker sniggers, before asking Kurt what other interesting mutant talents he possesses. Kurt remains silent, before grinning as he exclaims ‘Well, if you rub my belly…my leg wiggles uncontrollably’. Stryker is not amused and takes his leave. ‘What? Are you leaving - don’t you want to give it a try?’ Kurt asks. When he gets no response, he jokes ‘All right. Maybe later. I’m here all week. Wherever here is’, before the cell door slams closed on him.

Back at the Szardos Circus, Amanda approaches her mother, who is leaning up against a tree, a few meters away from the caravans, and asks her if there is any sign of Kurt. Margali replies that there hasn’t been, and that she is really worried. Margali informs Amanda that Kurt was not at the church and that no one has seen him since just after the last performance. ‘We‘ve waited as long as we can. The circus has to leave for Calgary’ Margali announces.

Amanda puts a hand on her mother’s shoulder and remarks that she is sure Kurt will be okay, before telling her mother that she knows she is probably imagining Kurt dead in a ditch someplace, but that she shouldn’t, as Kurt is probably just upset with himself over what he did and is hiding out for a while. Pensive, Margali replies that Amanda is probably right, that Kurt has done it before. ‘There are just so many bad people out there who hate mutants…and Kurt is as mutant as they come!’.

Back in his cell, Kurt is praying. ‘Please let Amanda be safe. And Margali, Woodhead, Chester and all the others’ he asks God. As two soldiers enter the cell, dragging a weak mutant, Kurt adds ‘And while you’re at it, please bless these soldiers, for they know not what they do’. One of the soldiers tells his colleague to put this mutant on the other cot, before turning to Kurt and asking him what it is he is doing. ‘Are you praying?’ he exclaims. ‘No you don’t! you don’t pray - God doesn’t listen to prayers from animals!’ the soldier shouts cruelly.

‘And please bless Tiny Tim here most of all -’ Kurt exclaims, to which the soldier exclaims ‘That’s it, demon, that was a mistake!’ and brings out his baton. ‘You’re a mistake - one of God’s mistakes!’ the soldier exclaims, despite his colleague, who calls him Norris, telling him to stop. ‘You don’t PRAY!’ Norris shouts as he smacks Kurt hard across the face with his baton. The other soldier begins shoving Norris out of the cell, while Norris warns Kurt that he better not catch him on his knees again. ‘Not praying to my God!’ he exclaims, while the other soldier asks him what is wrong with him. ‘Not my God!’ shouts Norris as the cell door slams shut, leaving Kurt lying in a pool of his own blood.

Meanwhile, the Szardos Circus is all packed up and everyone is on their way to Calgary. In their trailer, Margali gazes out her window, clearly saddened by Kurt’s disappearance. Amanda takes her mothers hand, and gazes out the window with her.

Back in the Alkali Lake facility, Kurt sits beside the mutant that was brought into his cell and tells her to hang in, as she has survived the worst of it. The mutant lets out some cries, while Kurt assures her that he is here, before wondering who these heartless monsters are. ‘You need to be in a hospital, in antiseptic conditions. Not rotting in a cell like this!’ Kurt remarks, when suddenly the woman screams. Kurt shouts at the door, asking for someone to help him, while the woman screams again, then, suddenly, giant claws, like long fingernails begin extending out from her fingers.

‘God in heaven…’ Kurt whispers, before a baton is shoved in front of his neck and he is pulled backwards by Norris, who has entered the cell with several other guards. One of the guards tells the others to watch out for the claws in her fingers, as they are sharp, while Norris remarks that he thought they were going to remove those things. ‘No they - I think they put them in’ another soldier remarks. ‘You’re kidding me!’ another exclaims, while Norris takes pleasure in smacking Kurt to the ground.

‘Done any praying lately, Creepy Kurt?’ Norris asks. Blood dripping down his face, Kurt grins and replies ‘Yeah, well…once. I couldn’t help myself. But it obviously didn’t get through…because you’re still ugly!’. Norris obviously doesn’t appreciate that comment, and raises his baton, while Kurt frowns and mutters that he has got to learn to keep his mouth shut.

Meanwhile, the Szardos Circus has begun setting up in Calgary. Inside the big top, Amanda explains to Werner that it is just an expression. ‘I don’t mean “hot” like temperature…it means I think you’re “good looking”.’ ‘Oh. Right. I’ve heard that before!’ Werner replies, ‘But what does it mean?’ he asks. Amanda looks oddly at Werner, before noticing Margali approach her. ‘Oh. Hello, mother. We were just -’ Amanda begins, to which Margali exclaims ‘I know what you were “just”’ and walks past them, asking them to find someplace private where she doesn’t have to look at them.

Amanda follows her mother, asking her what the matter is and why she is being like this. ‘Why am I being like this?’ Margali asks, before snapping ‘because I’m watching you throw precious love away - just like I did - on a stupid, stupid man with a pretty face, when you could have…’ her voice trails off, and Margali goes silent. ‘Could have what?’ Amanda asks. ‘Could have had Kurt’ Margali replies.

‘KURT?’ asks a stunned Amanda. ‘You think I should be with Kurt? But he’s blue! He has a tail! He’s a mutant!’, to which Margali replies ‘And he’s funny, and intelligent, and sweet, and kind…and he’s like a son to me!’. ‘A son you dressed in a devil’s costume to sell tickets to your precious circus. A son you called the “Nightcrawler”!’ Amanda declares. Innocently, Margali replies that was because Kurt was always up at night, that he only slept a few hours, so she called him her little Nightcrawler. ‘And you think he liked that?’ Amanda asks. ‘You think he liked being called the nickname of a worm?’.

‘There’s no way I’m letting you blame me for Kurt’s leaving!’ Amanda exclaims as she begins to walk away from her mother, adding ‘I know you’re worried about him, Mom. But I’m worried too, believe it or not. Terrified for him! But however I treated Kurt, however I may have wronged him - I learned it from you!’. At her daughter’s words, Margali covers her face with her hands and weeps.

Back in Alkali Lake, Norris and another soldier drag Kurt across the ground to where Stryker is waiting on a platform. Norris calls out that Wagner refuses to walk, to which Stryker tells him to drop him anywhere. Kurt lands head-first on the ground, and Stryker orders his men to take the bag off Wagner’s head. ‘Well, we should mention…’ begins the other soldier, ‘He tried to escape, sir’ Norris reveals, explaining that they had to get a little rough with him to settle him down. Stryker frowns, ‘”A little rough with him”?’ he asks, wanting to know what they mean by that.

Norris and the other soldier remain silent, ‘Take that bag off his head!’ demands Stryker furiously. One of them does so, revealing a blood-covered Kurt, who grins, ‘Surprise!’ he exclaims sarcastically. Stryker looks at Kurt, then at his men, who both stand their solemnly, before being told that they are excused. As they walk away, Norris smiles at his actions, while Stryker asks Kurt if he is capable of killing.

‘Am I - am I what? What are you talking about?’ Kurt asks, confused. ‘With your mutant abilities. The teleportation, the agility and whatever else you can do…are you capable of killing, say, from a long distance away?’ Stryker asks. Kurt replies that he doesn’t understand what Stryker is asking him. ‘Are you asking if I can or -’ Stryker interrupts, ‘It’s a simple question, Wagner’ he remarks, motioning to Norris and the other soldier, he informs Kurt that he is offering him the opportunity to kill his oppressors over there.

Stryker holds out a remote and informs Kurt that it will turn off his inhibitor collar, explaining that he will disable the collar and allow him to teleport over to Norris and the other soldier - and kill them - for the beating they have inflicted upon him. ‘All you have to do is ask’ Stryker. Kurt watches the retreating soldiers for some time, then looks at the remote control and replies ‘No. That would be against God’. Stryker is amused at this, ‘Against whose God?’ he asks. ‘More people kill in the name of God than for any other reason on this godforsaken planet’ Stryker points out.

Kurt smirks and replies that the only thing forsaken by God will be those who kill in His name. My God is capable of nothing but love. My God even loves people like you’ Kurt declares.

In Calgary, Margali approaches Amanda who is sitting under a tree beside a small river. ‘Like Kurt to churches, so you to nature, Amanda’ Margali remarks as she sits down besides her daughter. Amanda apologizes to her mother for what she said before. ‘I know you’ve loved Kurt ever since you found him, that’s never been a question’ Amanda states. Margali tells her daughter that there is no need to apologize, and admits that Amanda was right, in some ways. ‘I loved Kurt, yes, but that didn’t stop me from being insensitive to him. Sometimes you can still be a racist, even with those you love’ Margali explains.

‘Is that what you think I was? A racist?’ Amanda asks. ‘No. I think you’re just a young girl who wanted the best-looking man she could find. But someday, I hope…I pray…that we can both see past those things to someone with a good heart and who deserves to be loved, unconditionally’. Amanda begins to cry, and replies that Kurt does deserve that, and admits that she misses him more than she thought she ever would. ‘That’s because you do love him, Amanda…even if you haven’t realized yet how much’ Margali remarks, before exclaiming that she hopes, someday, they both get the chance to tell him so.

Back in Alkali Lake, Kurt sits besides the mysterious woman in his cell, promising her that they will get out of this. ‘I know someone misses you the way Amanda and I miss each other’ he exclaims. ‘That kind of love is the only thing that can keep you alive right now, I know. Even God has his limits in a place like this -’ Kurt remarks, when suddenly, Norris enters the cell, assuring his colleague that he will not hit Wagner again, ‘I just want to say goodbye to him, that’s all’ he claims, while his colleague tells him not to push it.

Norris replies that he has something better than a baton this time, and informs Kurt that he is here to give him some good news: ‘You’re shipping out. Doubt you’ll ever be back’ he remarks. ‘But - but what about Amanda?’ Kurt asks. Norris grins as he remarks ‘Now that’s the good part. They told me I could tell you, and it made my whole day’. He then tells Kurt that Amanda was never real, that she was all in his mind. Kurt frowns and asks Norris what he is on about. ‘You think I’m going to buy this?’ he asks.

‘Yeah, I do. Because inside, you know it’s true. She could never love a freak like you’ Norris remarks, informing Kurt that Amanda is still with her handsome human boyfriend back at the traveling freak show. ‘You’re lying to me!’ Kurt exclaims, declaring that he will never believe anything Norris tells him. ‘You’re just taunting me again’ he states, before Norris reveals that there are men watching Amanda, and that she is with the other acrobat every night. ‘The normal one. The angel. The moved into your old wagon and do it like husband and wife. In the biblical sense’ Norris reveals, adding that they laugh all the time about what a freak Kurt is.

Kurt looks clearly upset at this point, while Norris informs him that the tiny hotel, the flat champagne, the tiny wedding in Alberta, and especially the intimate stuff - the “I love you Amanda - kiss me, and let me show you how much” stuff, Norris points out that Kurt never told them about, so how else could he know it was true. ‘That was us. Mind control. Never happened!’ he reveals, crushing Kurt. As he leaves the cell, he tells Kurt that if he feels like getting in a prayer or two then he should go for it. ‘I won’t interfere. My little going away present to you’ Norris grins, leaving Kurt sobbing in the cell.

Later, Kurt is strapped to a table in some sort of laboratory. Stryker stands over him, remarking ‘You wouldn’t kill on your own, Wagner. And we couldn’t risk long-distance mind-control, unfortunately. Too many variables’. Stryker then reveals that they discovered that by removing this genetic material from the body of their mind control - Mutant Twelve - ‘The same mutant weapon, by the way, who so skilfully built up your fantasy with Amanda and now will build -’ Stryker interrupts himself, remarking that there is no time to explain.

Holding up a syringe filled with the aforementioned genetic material, Stryker exclaims that it will all make sense in a moment. Holding the needle above the back of Kurt’s neck, Stryker comments on how quiet Kurt is this evening. ‘No witty remarks? No genial asides?’ Stryker asks, unaware that the face-down Kurt is crying softly, tears rolling down his face. ‘No. I suppose not’ Stryker remarks. ‘Discovering the most perfect moment in your life was all a mental fabrication would understandably be a little upsetting, I imagine’, before sticking Kurt with the needle and remarking that soon, it will all be forgotten.

Later, Norris and the other soldiers are in their barracks playing cards. ‘Gentlemen, you picked a bad day to invite me into your game…four aces!’ Norris boasts, remarking as he gathers up his winnings that it is hard to imagine this day getting any better. Suddenly though, Kurt bamfs into the room. ‘What is that stink?’ Norris asks, when suddenly, he looks up and sees Kurt looming over him with a deadly blade. Kurt grins with what appears to be pleasure as he slices Norris, then bamfs away again. The other soldiers look around, and one of them remarks that even though Stryker warned them that was coming, it still scared the hell out of him.

Shortly, in Stryker’s office, Kurt bamfs in, Stryker is laughing, ‘Perfect’ he exclaims, before declaring that poor, hideous God-loving Kurt Wagner will pay a visit to the President of the United States!

In Calgary, Amanda strides into a church, ‘Hello, God. I know you know I’ve never had much faith in you…or even believed you existed at times. But when people are at their most desperate, they still manage to turn to you, don’t they?’ Amanda remarks. Kneeling at the altar, Amanda declares that she is at her most desperate. ‘So, I beg of you, Lord…if you are up there, and if you have any compassion for those who are truly deserving…please take care of Kurt Wagner…’.

Characters Involved: 

Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Margali Szardos

General Stryker
Norris and other soldiers

Circus patrons
Circus performers

Yuriko Oyama / Lady Deathstryke

In Hallucinations :

Story Notes: 

This one-shot is a tie-in-prequel to the 2003 X2: X-Men United movie (sequel to 2000’s X-Men: The Movie.

The only characters from this one-shot to appear in X2 are Nightcrawler (played by Alan Cumming), Stryker (Brian Cox) and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu).

Writer of this issue, Chuck Austen, is a self-confessed Nightcrawler fan.

The issue has similarities to the Excalibur #minus1 issue, which also explored Nightcrawler and Amanda Sefton’s time at the circus.

No indication is made this issue as to whether Amanda and Margali have their magical abilities which they do in the 616 universe.

Margali appears somewhat shorter and dumpier in this issue than she is in regular 616 continuity.

Kurt pays a “visit” to the President of the United States (as mentioned by Stryker) in the opening scene of X2.

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