Nightcrawlers #2

Issue Date: 
May 2023
Story Title: 
part 5: The Apostate

Si Spurrier (writer), Andrea DiVito (artist), Jim Charalampidis (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles  (letterer), Tom Muller and Jay Bowen (design),Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Phil Noto, E.M. Gist, David Talaski (variant covers), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laurie Amaro (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

The freed Nightcrawler chimeras now follow Mother Righteous blindly. They are devoted to stealing magical artifacts for her to create the Reliquary Perilous, which they believe will stop the threat of the Sinisters. Vox Ignis visits them too and witnesses the death ceremony of one of them, Summernight. He talks to Wagnerine, who explains that Summernight was the father of the child she lost right after birth, as she teleported blindly away. Mother Righteous has made the “holy child” part of their religion, meaning her parents aren’t able to get closure. She asks Vox what the Mother truly wants. He reveals that she visits people and asks them what they would have done differently. He recalls a conversation she had with Legion, who didn’t trust her and intended to take what was left of his people to another plane of reality. Wagnerine asks him to take her to the Mother. She wants to raid the Westchester Complex to see if there are any valuables left. She leads a group inside and they bring Mother Righteous the mushroom-brained Dr. Nemesis, and then the original monstrous Nightcrawler, who is furious at how she has perverted his philosophy of the Spark. Mother Righteous manages to kill him. Wagnerine, in turn, tries to kill her but is stopped by Mother Righteous’s power. Vox Ignis refuses the order to kill her, allowing Wagnerine to teleport away. When she was in contact with Mother Righteous, she sensed the presence of her child. Wagnerine vows she will free her people and her child!

Full Summary: 

100 years later:
The Nightkin, a group of Nightcrawler chimeras, dressed in identical outfits with white hoods, are gathered for a ritual. Let the liturgy be spoken, one of them announces. Let the countdown credo begin! They say the words:
3. Blessed be the nightgene!

Wagnerine says the words like the others, but inside doubts are gnawing at her. How many have they lost? How much have they lost?

2. Blessed be the Reliquary Perilous!

The forces of the Council of Sinisters led by Magik are threatening Asgard. 90 years ago, Asgard was sent spinning into the void. Now in the hundredth year of the Sinister Era, Magik of the Red Diamond has decided to finish what she started. She recreates Bifrost – all in black – and leads the charge against the Aesir.

1. Blessed be the Spark!

While both Asgardians and Magik’s troops are busy fighting, the Nightkin secretly teleport in and out to plunder objects of magic.

Wagnerine recalls how the Shi’ar fell against Xavier-in-Sin. Using hybrid brains of Somnus and Amahl Farouk, Xavier made sure an entire cavillation died in paranoia and pain. The Nightkin snuck out with the M’kraan Crystal.

Seeing one of the Nightkin, Loki shouts why they don’t help them.

Wagnerine recalls how in Otherworld Dr. Strange, Brother Voodoo and Elsa Bloodstone asked for an alliance with the Nightkin, only to be rebuffed and told their stories were over. The Sinisters will attempt to take their magic treasure - the Nightkin will attempt to steal it before that happens.

One day later, Hope-in-Sin attacked Otherworld with the first triple chimera of Meggan, Maggot and Madrox… and a plague of magic slugs undid Otherworld.

The Nightkin stole the artifacts.

32 of them died recording the death scream of the Xandarian worldmind for Mother Righteous.

An angry Thor accuses them of being scavengers and tries to stop them from stealing Asgard’s sacred arms.

He intends to throw Mjolnir at one of the Nightkin, but Wagnerine cuts off his arm. She tells him to lie still. His world is doomed, only they can purge the Diamond. Only they may build the Reliquary Perilous. A weapon to cleanse the Sinister strain made from a distillate of holy artifacts.

He groans that none of them is worthy of lifting Mjolnir. However, Lost-in-Shadow (a Nightcrawler-Lost chimera) can manipulate the mallet’s gravitational pull and move it.

Wagnerine orders the Nightkin to move homeward. Speak the liturgy of regret and imbibe the Cortez Sacrament. Spark be with him, she tells the groaning Thor and then disappears.

The Narthex, a ship uprooted from Krakoa during its dying day. It is borne through the void by the Chamber-Nocturne (a group of Nightcrawler – Chamber-chimeras). A Nightcrawler-Iceman chimera welcomes Vox Ignis back, telling him the legate – Wagnerine – is waiting for him. Her mood is grim, she warns.

It has been two years since he has freed the last of them. There are only 53 Nightkin left now, soon to be fifty-two. He walks past several Nightkin performing a ritual around a Cyclops-Nightcrawler chimera who begs them to hurry. He hears the devil’s laughter!

Wagnerine greets Vox Ignis without looking at him. They have taken many treasures since his last visit, she announces. He cautiously asks about the ceremony. She explains it’s the last rite. Summernight is losing his battle against the Red Diamond. Sinister is retaking control. A great trauma can have that effect.

Trauma? he asks. She tells him not to be coy. He knows what happened. She grew pregnant. The others called it a miracle, as they were created to be infertile, but her healing factor finally restored her fertility.

The Cyclops-chimera was the father? Vox asks and is told yes. Wagnerine thinks to herself that he was a tender lover and would have made a fine father. And yet it wasn’t the loss alone that broke him, she continues. Mother Righteous rewrote the tragedy. “The sinless child” is now part of the faith. How can Summernight recover from a tragedy he is expected to celebrate?

Summernight drinks the Cortez fluid and takes the hand of Auntie Fortune, whose luck guides him to his destination. He turns around to look at Wagnerine one last time, but they are both seeing the same thing.

How, right after the birth, the baby began to glow and teleported as a birth reflex. Directionless. Wagnerine tortured herself with endless thoughts of where she might have ended up. She tells herself she is gone, and so is half her heart.

Summernight jumps and somewhere her lover’s bones shatter against a barrier none of them can breach.

The others chant a blessing on him.

Vox asks about Sinister’s lab. Wagnerine bitterly explains none of the newer acolytes even know what it is. Only that this is what the mother calls a righteous death.

Vox Ignis tries to empathize with her pain. She cuts him off. She heals. There is no pain. But rage, she thinks. Vox explains that he has found no more Nightcrawler chimeras. Sinister must have realized that some quirk of spirit makes the Wagner strain susceptible to emancipation.

So they have stopped making them, she thinks loud. They are failing, she reveals. They run low on the flesh of Cortez to power their leaps, and lower still on new thieves to use it. She had hoped her dau…

She stumbles over the word. She had hoped she would be the first of many born of love. As it is, they will die out long before the Reliquary Perilous is complete. The list of sacred items to build it grows ever longer. Mother Righteous says it must be carried within the devil’s lab to purge the Sinister strain. She says she knows how to gain entry, but she is vague and the younger Nightkin are content not to wonder. It is heresy to ask… but she begs him… for what great purpose has the Mother stolen Wagnerine’s loss?

Vox Ignis muses he has watched her visit folk down the decades. People untouched by the diamond, rebels, survivors… She asks them all the same thing: what would they have done different? She stopped in to see an old pal not long ago.

Narration / flashback:
What would he have done differently? Legion in his astral form muses. He would have learned sooner that a real leader doesn’t push and pull… a real leader lifts. He’s been staying out of this all the time. Protecting the folks he could in a peaceful dream, but he’s been watching her. He wags an accusing finger in her face. A century ago, she was set on making deals, getting into folks’ heads and hearts… Now she is reduced to this: gossips and regrets. He doesn’t know her game, but he knows her type. A stated goal and then a true goal! Whatever she is up to, it is for no one but her!

Vox Ignis explains he believes Legion meant this judgment for his ears, not hers.

Wagnerine gasps that the original Legion features in the scriptures. He could… Vox Ignis warns her not to get her hopes up. He won’t be much help.

Legion pronounces she is welcome to her sordid wee ambitions, whatever they are. The X-gene has become a cancer. He’s taking what remains of his people and leaves for the higher planes. They’ll explore. They’ll rapture. That’s all that’s left, isn’t it?

Wagnerine suggests she has an idea, but the Mother is so absorbed with her holy work. She fears their needs must seem quite unimportant. Might it sound better coming from him?

Soon Vox Ignis joins Mother Righteous to speak on the Nighkin’s behalf. She is annoyed when he bothers her spellwork. He apologizes and asks for her leave for a pilgrimage. The number of Nightkin are dwindling. They worship her and wish to fulfil her design. She chuckles at his obvious attempt at flattery but listens. They will not last long but he has thought of an idea to reverse the trend. Color her intrigued. What’s the target?

A little later:
Earth, New Essex, now a place of horrors:
The Nightkin make their way to the Westchester Complex. Wagnerine separates them in two groups. The first one enters the tunnels where they find Dr. Nemesis, his fungus brain all over the place. He insists they disengage him carefully to preserve his brain power. Wagnerine orders them to not be gentle and do it quickly. She warns he is not the only monster the great devil left behind.

Soon Wagnerine and some other Nightkin bring Dr. Nemesis to Mother Righteous, explaining he will be able to propagate new chimeras for her, once he has recovered somewhat. Wagnerine adds he wasn’t their true goal. They have another guest. She has explained the situation to him too.

The now completely monstrous original Nightcrawler teleports in, enraged at the Mother. Spark! he shouts as he grabs her. Wagnerine points out, he doesn’t seem to agree with her interpretation of his doctrine…

Nightcrawler tosses Mother Righteous about as he tries to speak. Spark is change! Spark is joy! Spark is idea, not weapon! Not mission, not control… He is interrupted by a magical blast from one of her lanterns hitting him. It’s taking all of his concentration just to form words, isn’t it, she mutters. Dismal! She orders the Nightkin to look at him. To see how low the world has brought the greatest of them. Look on their shame and be grateful to the mother that guides them! She grabs the HopeSword from her chest and whispers to him, the Spark is whatever she says it is.

As she kills him, Wagnerine teleports in front of her intending to kill Mother Righteous. But, with a simple snap of her fingers, she stops Wagnerine. Ninety years of canticles and hymns, she tells her. Ninety years of them thanking her with every theft and prayer… that’s all it takes to let her into their insipid little souls, to tear and rip! She orders Vox Ignis to burn the apostate.

When he hesitates, a displeased Mother Righteous attacks him. Wagnerine uses that moment to flee. Furious, Mother Righteous orders the Nightkin to get out, and take care of that body!

The Nightkin treat the body with reverence and Wagnerine knows that having seen all that they doubt. She wonders how many they lost but today she has gained hope, because when the lantern touched her, she heard the voice of her baby, telling her that Mother Righteous has her.

She tears off the bandana with the heart symbol and vows to free her child and her people.

Characters Involved: 

Other Nightkin
Vox Ignis
Dr. Nemesis

Mother Righteous
Magik, (Council of Sinisters)

Balder, Loki, Thor, Volstagg (Aesir)

In Wagnerine’s narration:
Her child

In Vox Ignis’s narration:
Mother Righteous

Dr. Strange, Dr. Voodoo, Elsa Bloodstone
Hope Summers II, Professor X

Story Notes: 

The story follows Immoral X-Men #1. It is continued in Immoral X-Men #2.

Written By: