X-Men and Power Pack #3

Issue Date: 
February 2006
Story Title: 
Big Trouble at the Big Top!

Marc Sumerak (writer), GuriHiru (artist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Jacob Chabot (production), Aki Yangi (special thanks), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), MacKenzie Cadenhead (editor), Mark Paniccia (consulting editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler receives a troubling letter from his old circus mate Gunter. He teleports to the new circus that Gunter is working at to discover that it was a trap - for Gunter is under the control of the Ringmaster, who uses his power to put Nightcrawler under his control, too, for the purpose of using Nightcrawler to teleport the Circus of Crime anywhere so they can start stealing from anywhere they want. On this particular day at the circus, the Power family has come for a visit. Katie is afraid of clowns, however, so Alex and Julie stay out in the circus grounds with her while Jack joins their parents in the big top, and once the Ring Master appears, he puts everyone under his control so that the Circus of Crime can make one last show before moving on to bigger and better things. Katie wants to go into the big top, so they do so - only they witness the Circus of Crime in action. The three Power kids confront the Circus of Crime, although the Clown does taunt Katie. The kids manage to get the Ringmaster’s hat away from him so he doesn’t have his power to put them under his control. Zero-G is forced to fight Nightcrawler, while Lightspeed contends with Princess Python’s snake - something she is afraid of. Brave Energizer manages to use the Ringmaster’s hat to free Nightcrawler from the mind control, so Nightcrawler teams up with Power Pack to take the Circus of Crime down, and in the process Katie deals with her fear of clowns by blasting the Clown. Gunter is freed from control also, and the Circus of Crime are all apprehended. Gunter and Nightcrawler put on a show for the circus attendees, but Katie has one more trick up her sleeve, as he uses the Ringmaster’s hat to command Jack to act like a chicken, something he had previously called her for being afraid of clowns, and he does so, squawking like a chicken in the big top.

Full Summary: 

‘Meine Damen und Herren...Mesdames et Messieurs...Ladies and Gentlemen...for one night only we are proud to present – the sensational – the inspirational – the teleportational – NIGHTCRAWLER!’ exclaims Kurt Wagner as he leaps from a trapeze swing, into a somersault, then his tail flicks through a ring hanging in the air, before he teleports across to the next trapeze swing, high above the Danger Room floor. ‘Und the crowd goes wild’ Kurt smiles quietly to himself. However, from the Danger Room control booth, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan appears, holding an envelope, he tells Kurt that he hates to interrupt his one-man show, but that the mail is here. ‘Anything for me, Wolverine?’ Kurt asks as he teleports into the control booth, and Logan asks his friend if he happens to know a fella named “Gunter”.

Kurt smiles as he starts to open the envelope, explaining that Gunter was a stagehand from his circus days in the old world, but the last he heard, Gunter had moved to the States to join a new troupe. ‘Nein! This... this is terrible!’ Kurt utters as he starts to read the letter. Logan grins and asks his friend what is wrong. ‘The circus’s fat lady learn how to sing?’ he jokes, but Kurt teleports away without a response. ‘What? Was it something I said?’ Logan asks, rubbing the back of his head.

Days later: ‘Man, I love this place!’ Jack Power exclaims as he and his siblings – Alex, Julie and Katie – and their parents – Jim and Margaret – walk through the crowds of people at the busy circus. Various stalls line the path on either side of the Power family, and Jack is wearing a green cowboy hat and holding some candyfloss. ‘The games! The rides! The sugary, deep-fried goodness. Life just doesn’t get any better than this!’ Jack declares. Alex and Julie smile at their younger brother, while Katie walks along beside them, forlorn, her head hanging. Jack smiles and adds that now understands why people always talk about running away to join the circus. ‘It’s never too late, you know!’ Alex jokes, while Julie puts an arm around Jack and tells him that he shouldn’t let them stop him from living his dreams. ‘Ha ha. Very funny’ Jack replies, frowning.

Alex suddenly notices that Katie does not seem very happy. ‘You never miss an opportunity to rip on Jack’ Alex points out, to which Katie just replies that she is fine. ‘Maybe she figured out we only came here to return her to the freak show we got her from!’ Jack suggests, smirking. ‘Sure, Jack. Whatever you say’ Katie replies casually. ‘That was so not the reaction I was hoping for!’ Jack utters, wide-eyed. Jim tells Katie that he thinks he will know something that will cheer her up, and takes her hand, while Margaret crouches down beside her daughter and remarks that nothing beats the blues like three-rings full of fun. ‘Ummm...that’s okay...you guys go ahead without me’ Katie tells them. Jim asks her what the matter is, while Katie looks ahead at the large clown-faced doorway, with people walking through the clown’s mouth. ‘Don’t tell me this is about your stupid fear of clowns’ Jack calls out, adding that he doesn’t get it, and asks Katie if she thinks they are going to juggle her to death or something.

Jim looks at Jack and frowns, so Jack shrinks back, while Margaret tells Katie that if she doesn’t want to go in, that is fine – they can stay out her, get a funnel cake and play some games. ‘Really?’ Katie smiles. ‘Really’ Margaret assures her. Alex announces that he and Julie were going to get some popcorn anyway and tells Katie to come with them. ‘Are you sure?’ Margaret asks. Julie tells her that they are, and asks her mother to save them some good seats, just in case. Alex asks Jack if he wants to join them, but Jack replies ‘No way!’ and declares that he is not missing the “greatest show on Earth” because his little sister is a big chicken. ‘I mean, come on! This is the circus. What could possibly be scary about the circus?’ Jack asks as he follows his parents through the clown mouth.

At that moment, Nightcrawler makes his way past some caravans at the back of the circus tent, and comes to an entrance marked “circus employees only”. He steps through it, and finds Gunter, a large man wearing overalls standing in the employee area, and calls out to him. ‘I am so glad to see you again!’ Kurt declares, adding that he came as soon as he got the letter. ‘Tell me, is what you wrote about the performers’ criminal activities really –’ Kurt begins, before finding Gunter unresponsive, motionless, his eyes in a trance-like glaze. ‘What has happened? Who did this to you?’ Kurt asks. A response comes from behind him: ‘That would be us’ a voice calls out. ‘Who - who are you?’ Kurt asks, shocked when he sees seven circus performers and a very large snake appear behind him. ‘We are the Circus of Crime!’ the Ringmaster announces, before using his hypnotic power on Kurt, tell him that he is their newest member.

Nightcrawler is unable to move, and falls under the control of the Ringmaster, just like Gunter. ‘Perfect! Nightcrawler is now under my command! And if it wasn’t for poor Gunter here, we never would have been able to lure him into our trap’ Ringmaster tells the others. The Circus of Crime member called Clown tells the Ringmaster that he still doesn’t know why he went through all that trouble to capture this super-freak. The Ringmaster replies that their little troupe is destined for so much more than hypnotizing audiences and looting their valuables. ‘With Nightcrawler as one of us, we can use his teleportation ability to go anywhere and steal anything!’ He adds that they will no longer have to wait for their prey to come to the circus, instead, they will take the circus to them. ‘Yeah, maybe you’re right…but we still got us a full house out there tonight!’ Clown points out. His frown turns to a smile as he tells Ringmaster that it would be a shame to let all those wallets leave here full of dough. ‘So how about it, boss? One last hurrah?’ Clown suggests. ‘You know what they say, old friend…the show must go on!’

And soon, inside the big top: ‘Awesome! It’s starting! The others don’t know what they’re missing!’ Jack calls out as he sits with his mother and father, amongst other circus-goers. ‘Ladieees and gentlemen! I, the Ringmaster welcome you to the Tiboldt Circus - the most unique big top experience in the world!’ the Ringmaster calls out as he stands in the middle of the circus ring. He tells the audience that in mere moments they are about to witness wonders beyond belief. He instructs them to sit back, relax and not to divert their attention from the center ring. ‘Listen to my voice…focus on my hate…feel my power over you…and bend to my will’ the Ringmaster calls out, as the circle on his hat starts to spin, and his hypnosis extends out over the audience.

Outside, Alex, Julie and Katie sit at a table amongst the food stalls. With a lollipop in her hand, Katie tells her eldest siblings that they must think she is the biggest baby in the world. ‘I mean, Jack’s right - who’s actually scared of clowns?’ she asks. Julie assures her sister that it is okay to be afraid, even if you don’t know why. ‘Seriously, everyone’s afraid of something - even super heroes’ Alex adds, quietly. ‘Yeah, right. What are you guys afraid of?’ Katie asks. ‘Failure’ Alex admits. ‘Snakes. Totally. Yuck’ Julie reveals. ‘Really? But snakes are cool’ Katie utters. Alex hands his sister some popcorn and explains that it doesn’t really matter what are scared of, but how you deal with it. ‘I…I guess so’ Katie replies, somewhat unsure. Alex asks Katie if they should head into the tent and join the fun together. ‘I…yeah, okay’ Katie smiles.

Alex carries his youngest sister on his back, as Katie asks if she can close her eyes if things get too scary. ‘You won’t have to - ‘cause if any of those jokers get too close, we’ll be right there to power up and save the day’ Julie exclaims. Katie tells Julie that she will definitely do the same for her. ‘Huh? What do you mean? Julie enquires. Katie informs Julie that one of the performers is a snake charmer lady with a 25-foot python. ‘Didn’t you see the posters?’ Alex asks. ‘For real?’ Julie replies, stopping in her tracks. Alex and Katie carry on towards the entrance to the big top, while Julie calls out to them, ‘Umm…guys? Hold on. Are we sure we really want to -’.

But Alex and Katie are already inside, crouched by one of the entrance areas, they wait, until Julie walks up to them, ‘Guys?’ she calls out. Alex tells Julie to shush, as they have trouble. ‘Bravo, my masters of menace!’ the Ringmaster calls out from the center ring. ‘A grand finale truly worthy of your talents!’ Ringmaster exclaims, as Princess Python and Human Cannonball make their way through one section of the audience, collecting their valuables The two men dressed in purple and look the same work their way through another section, while Clown rides a unicycle in the center ring, carrying a sack of stolen goods. Ringmaster declares that by the time these unsuspecting fools awaken from his trance, they will be long gone, and their brand new act will finally begin.

Julie peers out into the center ring and remarks that it is like the whole audience is out cold. Katie supposes that it has something to do with the crazy hat. ‘So pretty…and shiny…’ she utters. ‘Don’t look at it, Katie!’ Alex exclaims, covering his sister’s eyes. ‘Right. Sorry’ Katie replies. ‘Costumes on!’ Alex exclaims, and he, Julie and Katie appear with their Power Pack costumes on. Alex, who goes by the name Zero-G when in costume, tells his sisters - Lightspeed and Energizer - that it is time for Power Pack to give these losers a show they will never forget. One of the girls asks about Jack, pointing out that he will never forgive them if they do this without him - but Jack is still hypnotized along with their parents. Zero-G explains that if they draw attention to Jack, they might end up putting their Mom and Dad, and maybe the whole audience, in danger. ‘I don’t think we can risk it’ he tells them.

‘How are the three of us going to stand up against all of them?’ Energizer enquires. ‘Our best bet is to attack before they realize we’re -’ Zero-G starts, when suddenly, ‘Well, lookee here!’ Clown declares as he rides the unicycle towards the young heroes, juggling some flaming sticks, he asks ‘Is it “Kids in stupid costumes get in free” day already? Lucky us’. Energzier then screams, and runs right out into the center ring. ‘Energizer! No!’ Zero-G exclaims, while the Clown just laughs wickedly and chases Energizer on the unicycle, still juggling the flaming sticks. ‘There goes your sneak attack, Zero-G’ Lightspeed remarks. The Circus of Crime and Nightcrawler then move in to surround the young heroes, as the Clown tells Ringmaster that it looks like they have some late arrivals. Ringmaster frowns at the children and tells them that they don’t usually allow anyone in once the show has begun, but that since they are dressed up, he supposes they can make some room for them in the peanut gallery.

‘But first… listen to my voice… focus on my hat…’ the Ringmaster orders. ‘Hat? What hat?’ Lightspeed asks. ‘I don’t see any hat’ Zero-G smiles, raising his hand, he is controlling the hat to float upwards. ‘There it is. Floating up there!’ the Strongman cries. ‘I see that Bruto. Now get it back before these brats ruin everything!’ the Ringmaster orders the Circus of Crime. The two men in purple move towards Zero-G, ‘One hypno-hat coming up - well, down really! Courtesy of the Great Gambonnos!’ But, before the hat can fall when Zero-G loses control of it, Lightspeed flies up and grabs it. ‘I’ve got it!’ she cries, while the Strongman tries to reach it. ‘And the Human Cannonball has got you, girl!’ the Human Cannonball exclaims as the Clown fires him from the cannon. ‘Sorry to disappoint, “boy”…but they don’t call me Lightspeed for nothing!’ Lightspeed replies as she easily darts to one side, so the Human Cannonball flies past her, and into the tent, causing a large rip.
Suddenly:‘You may be able to move quickly, child… but I’m afraid the audience is not so lucky!’ Princess Python declares as she stands behind Dr and Mrs Power, while her very large snake has wrapped itself around Jack. The snake hisses, ‘NO!’ Lightspeed shouts, before flying forward, she grabs the snake and flies into the air, ‘EWWW! You totally owe me one when you wake up, Jack…’ Lightspeed mutters. ‘Come back here!’ Princess Python shouts. Ringmaster decides that it is time for their special guest to make his triumphant debut, and snaps his fingers. Nightcrawler instantly teleports over to Zero-G, who has trapped the Clown in a de-gravitized field. ‘About time! Get ‘im, Nightcrawler!’ Clown calls out. Zero-G looks shocked: ‘Nightcrawler? Aren’t you supposed to be one of the good guys?’ he asks. ‘The Ringmaster’s will is my will’ Nightcrawler responds, as he teleports once more kicking Zero-G. ‘So I see’ Zero-G mutters, as Nightcrawler teleports again and again, kicking and punching Zero-G with each teleport. ‘Lightspeed - quick! I need that hat!’ Zero-G calls out to his sister.

Lightspeed flies overhead, the snake still in her hold, it hisses at her and starts to wrap around her body. ‘I’m a bit wrapped up with Princess Python’s pet, Zero-G!’ Lightspeed calls back. ‘Then what happened to the -’ Zero-G begins as he runs away from Nightcrawler, as Energizer exclaims ‘I’ve got it, Alex!’ as she glows before the Ringmaster and Princess Python, the hat on her head, she fires a blast of energy at the Circus of Crime. ‘Get over here and help me even out the teams!’ Zero-G exclaims, explaining that they have to break Nightcrawler out of the Ringmaster’s control. ‘But how does this stupid hat work?’ Energizer wonders. Zero-G replies that he doesn’t know and suggests Energizer just aim it at him and say something. ‘NOW!’ he shouts as Nightcrawler looms over him.

‘Uhh…look into my… ummm…hat… you are no longer hypnotized… you do not want to beat up my big brother…’ Energizer orders. Nightcrawler clutches his head, ‘Ach! Where am I?’ he wonders. ‘It worked! He’s snapping out of it!’ Zero-G exclaims. Nightcrawler turns to Energizer and smiles: ‘Danke schoen, fraulein!’ he says, thanking Katie in German. ‘Umm… gesundheit?’ Energizer replies.
Nightcrawler frowns and announces that it is time to drop the curtain on this show once and for all. He leaps at the Great Gambonnos before banging their heads together and teleporting away. The Human Cannonball returns, and starts to apologize for his absence, before Nightcrawler re-appears beside him and kicks him over. Lightspeed flies overhead as Nightcrawler punches the Strongman, while Zero-G captures the Great Gambonnos in an anti-gravity field, and Lightspeed tangles Princess Python up in her own snake. Nightcrawler then starts to chase after the Ringmaster.
Energizer, in the meantime, has become trapped in a corner, ‘Go - go away!’ she calls out as the Clown closes in on her. ‘No reason to be scared, kid…your friend the Clown just stopped by to teach you a new game. I promise, it’ll be a blast’ the Clown grins, while juggling live explosive balls. ‘You’d better believe it, Bozo!’ Energizer replies as she fires a blast of energy at the Clown, knocking him backwards his explosives blow up around him, knocking him out. Alex, Julie and Nightcrawler rush over: ‘Way to go, Katie! I knew you could do it!’ Julie tells her sister. Katie smiles and replies that it turns out there is something that scares her even more than clowns - the thought of getting her butt kicked by some lame-o in face paint and floppy shoes’.

Soon, Gunter has been freed from the Ringmaster’s control, and has helped Nightcrawler load the Circus of Crime into one of the circus wagons with bars. ‘This should hold all of them until the police arrive’ Gunter remarks. Nightcrawler turns to Alex and Julie and tells them that he is forever in their debt. ‘There is no telling what the Ringmaster could have made me do if you hadn’t freed me from his mind control’ Nightcrawler points out. Alex announces that it is time to do the same for the rest of the audience. ‘And give them a show they truly deserve!’ Nightcrawler exclaims. ‘Yeah, about that…anyone know where Katie rain off to with the hat?’ Julie asks. Katie pokes her head out of the tent and tells the others that she had some last minute business. ‘The hat’s all yours now’ she tells them. Julie and Alex look at each other, confused.

Soon, Gunter stands in the middle of the center ring, while Nightcrawler swings on a trapeze above. ‘And now, for one night only - my dear old friend - the Uncanny Nightcrawler!’ Gunter calls out, and the now-free audience erupts in applause. Alex, Julie and Katie are sitting with their family now, as Jack mutters ‘No way, Alex! I missed all of that?’ ‘Yeah. You should have seen Katie take down that clown, Jack. It was awesome’ Alex remarks. ‘Whatever. She’s still a just a big chicken to me’ Jack replies. ‘Oh, yeah?’ Katie asks, smiling she snaps her fingers, and Jack falls under hypnotic control. Jack suddenly leaps too his feet, starts flapping his arms and squawking like a chicken. Margaret and Jim look at each other, bewildered. Julie’s jaw drops and Alex hangs his head, ashamed, as audience members nearby start to stare at them. Katie giggles and asks ‘Who’s the “chicken” now?’

Characters Involved: 

Nightcrawler, Wolverine (both X-Men)

Energizer (Katie), Lightspeed (Julie), Mass Master (Jack) Zero-G (Alex) (all Power Pack)

Jim & Margaret Power

Clown, Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Princess Python, Ringmaster II, Strongman II (all Circus of Crime)


Circus audience

Story Notes: 

This mini-series is out of continuity, although it is part of its own “universe” that includes Power Pack (3rd series) #1-4, and several other min-series like Wolverine and Power Pack.

Issue Information: 

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