Nightcrawler isn’t one of the X-Men’s heaviest hitters, but he is the reason why one supremely powerful mutant chose to stay on the team!
When writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum wrote and drew Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975, they not only introduced readers to several popular new mutants like Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Storm, they made a point of giving each mutant a different nationality. Thus, the new X-Men had to not only adjust to being mutant superheroes in a world that hated and feared them, but also acclimate themselves to an entirely new country and culture.
This proved difficult for many, and a few – like Sunfire – chose to leave the team after their first mission. Likewise, another member, Thunderbird, was killed on a later mission, showing how dangerous being an X-Man could be. In Amazing X-Men #3, a story by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness reveals that one of the X-Men’s most powerful members, the mutant weather witch Storm, almost chose to return to Africa… but chose to stay thanks to the efforts of her friend Nightcrawler.
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The scene appears in flashback and takes place shortly after Kurt Wagner and Ororo Munroe both join the team. Ororo confesses that she doesn’t feel she belongs with the X-Men and misses the African Serengeti and being able to fly free. Nightcrawler admits he understands how she feels as he also misses the circus where he was raised. He even claims “that Wolverine person scares me immensely” (amusing considering what good friends Kurt and Logan would later become).
Before Storm leaves, however, Kurt offers to show her something. Revealing he got permission from Professor Xavier to fix up some space in the attic, he reveals he’s been raising plants in the room – just for Ororo. The gesture overwhelms Storm who starts crying and agrees to stay – on the condition that Kurt also stays on the team. The attic would prove to be Storm’s great sanctuary in classic X-Men comics and she would continue raising plants and feeling very happy there – but now readers know it was actually Nightcrawler who came up with the idea in the first place.
It’s a charming retcon, especially considering how important both Storm and Nightcrawler would become to the X-Men over the years. Today, it seems impossible that the team roster wouldn’t include them, but back in the mid-seventies, everything about the X-Men was still a great experiment, no character was guaranteed to acquire a big fan following, and the book itself could have been cancelled at any time. As it turned out, both Nightcrawler and Storm became fan favorites, not just because of the novelty of their mutant powers but the relatable aspects of their personalities. Storm’s ability to manipulate the weather makes her a huge asset to the X-Men, but Nightcrawler’s sympathetic nature makes him arguably an even greater team player, as he’s often the glue that holds everyone together.
Next: X-Men: Nightcrawler Created His Own Team, And It Was A Disaster
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