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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #4

"Theories of Relativity"
March 1994

In a Nutshell
The truth about the relationship between Mystique & Nightcrawler is revealed.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Richard Bennet
Inker: Steve Moncuse
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Washington, Mystique kills a general allied with Graydon Creed, hoping to send Creed a message. In France, Creed receives some information about his heritage that so enrages him, he kills the man who delivered the information. Later, Nightcrawler arrives in America at Forge's request, and with Rogue, attends the general's funeral. There, Mystique sets off a bomb and, teasing Nightcrawler, tells him that if he wants answers about his own heritage, he'll need to go to Mystique's home. Creed proceeds to visit Forge in DC, threatening him, after which Rogue & Nightcrawler meet with Forge and are tasked with apprehending Mystique. Rogue takes Nightcrawler to the house in Mississippi where she lived with Mystique. Nightcrawler finds Creed inside, and he reveals the new information he recently acquired: that, like Creed, Nightcrawler is the son of Mystique. Just then, Mystique arrives, and Nightcrawler uses his image inducer to trick Mystique into confirming Creed's information. Just then, an attack helicopter arrives, called by Creed. In the ensuing fight, Mystique & Nightcrawler are thrown off a cliff, and Rogue is forced to let Creed go in order to rescue them. But Mystique lets herself fall to ensure Rogue saves Nightcrawler, for reasons known only to her. Rogue & Nightcrawler fly off, with Nightcrawler unsettled by everything he has learned about his family.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue confirms that Nightcrawler is the son of Mystique, and reveals that information to Nightcrawler as well, uncovered by Graydon Creed as he investigated his family tree. Here, it is said that Nightcrawler's father is an unnamed German baron, and that when Mystique gave birth to a demonic-looking child (and revealed her true form briefly as a result of the strain of childbirth), she was cast out and pursued by an angry mob. In order to protect herself, she morphed into one of the mob and threw the infant over a waterfall. Aside from continuing to depict Nightcrawler as coming from a 19th century Europe (with landed nobles living in castles and angry pitchfork-wielding mobs) rather than a modern one (which was true even in his first appearance), Mystique's casual disregard of her infant son to save her own skin isn't quite consistent with some of the earlier hints at the relationship betwen Nightcrawler & Mystique (specifcally that in Arcade's simulation in issue #177, she had an easier time killing Rogue than Nightcrawler).


And, of course, later stories will reveal that Nightcrawler's father is the demonic Azazel, who had an affair with her while she was married to the baron for Chuck Austen-y reasons.

Forge announces that the whole "Mystique is going crazy plot", which led, in part, to his leaving the X-Men in Uncanny #289-290, was such a ploy on Mystique's part to get access to his government files.


The climax of this issue is notoriously laughable; Lobdell attempts to create a parallel situation to when Mystique sacrificed the infant Nightcrawler, but in order to do so, he has to basically ignore how the characters' powers work, as well as geography. The idea is that Nightcrawler and Mystique are hanging over one of the numerous waterfalls that line the Mississippi River as it runs through Mississippi state, with Nightcrawler somehow conscious enough to hang onto a branch but not conscious enough to teleport. Nearby, Rogue is attacking Creed, who tells her she'll have to let him go in order to save both Nightcrawler & Mystique, despite the fact that Rogue is superstrong and can fly fairly fast. So even ignoring the waterfall, and Nightcrawler not teleporting, we still have Rogue not just bringing Creed with her, grabbing Mystique in her other hand, then having Mystique grab Nightcrawler. Or flying fast enough to drop Creed on shore then save the others, or...


Then, when Rogue stupidly does let Creed go in order to save Mystique and the not-teleporting Nightcrawler, he just orders his massive attack helicopter to fly away (instead of, you know, shooting the mutants), basically because he's caused them all emotional pain by revealing all this information, and for this demagogue who hopes to eradicate mutantkind off the face of the planet, that's apparently good enough for now.

The issue ends with a Nightcrawler/Mystique gallery, featuring pinups from Matthew Ryan, Tom Raney, and Richard Bennet.


Creator Central
Richard Bennet, continuing his seemingly-random tour of the X-books, pencils this issue.

The Chronology Corner 
Nightcrawler appears here between issues #75 and #76 of Excalibur (and references in-story the events of issue #75). Rogue appears here between issues #30 and #31 of X-Men, and Forge between X-Factor Annual #9 and his appearance in X-Force #35.

A Work in Progress
This issue acknowledges that Mystique's identity as Raven Darkholme, DARPA employee, has long since been blown (it's been a while since we've seen her use that identity, though the name has, and will continue, to stick around).


A footnote points to the events of X-Force #77, and I'm not even sure what it's trying to reference (since there's obviously no issue #77 of X-Force at this point). Maybe X-Force #24 (when the Friends of Humanity kidnapped Rusty & Skids)?


Most of Mystique's actions in this issue stem from the fact that she's pissed about Graydon Creed sending Sabretooth to kill her in the Sabretooth limited series.

Mystique says that she has no interest protecting mutants, which isn't quite consistent with her past actions (her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants/Freedom Force, while never entirely good nor selfless, seemed an attempt, however extreme, to stick up for mutants).


Mystique references the time she told Nightcrawler to ask his foster mother about her (in X-Men #142), noting that apparently, he never did.


Forge considers that he may be sending Rogue after Mystique in an attempt to appease his guilt over the role he played in Destiny's death (why he doesn't just tell Nightcrawler about his relationship to Mystique, which Forge clearly knows in this issue, is unclear).


A flashback depicts Rogue's first encounter with Mystique, though its not consistent with previous mentions of their past together (for one thing, Rogue ran away from home when she put her boyfriend Cody in a coma, something that happened to her as a teenager, yet here, she is depicted as much younger than that upon meeting Mystique).


Also, it seems like Mystique might have an easier time getting Rogue to trust her if she hadn't included the little skull on her forehead when she showed Rogue her true form (then again, Rogue went home with her, so what do I know?).


Mystique says that she genuinely cares for Rogue, because where Rogue can't be touched physically, Mystique struggles to be touched emotionally. Which seems like a stretch, but Lobdell gets points for trying.


Upon learning the truth about his parentage, Nightcrawler refers to Graydon Creed as his step-brother, when they are in fact half-brothers (same mother, different fathers).

At the end of the issue, Nightcrawler uses his image inducer to appear as Creed, in order to trick Mystique. For some reason, after this, Creed is occasionally depicted as wearing Nightcrawler's costume, as though Richard Bennet got confused about how image inducers work or something.


The Reference Section
Nightcrawler exclaims "Stanley Lieber", the given name of one Stan Lee, in what I think it supposed to be a kind of "hubba hubba" moment when he first encounters Rogue in this issue, which like most of it, doesn't really work/make sense.


Young Love
In a flashback to Nightcrawler's time in the circus with Amanda Sefton, the seeds of their (still a little creepy) future relationship are depicted as she says that sometimes she wishes he wasn't her foster brother.


It's in the Mail
The letters page teases a Longshot appearance in an upcoming issue, but that never comes to pass.

Austin's Analysis
It's hard for any issue to live up (down?) to the reputation this one has, and reading it again (for probably only the second or third time since it first came out), I'm comfortable saying it's not as bad as that reputation would suggest. Which isn't to say it's good, because it's not. It's pretty terrible. It's just not historically terrible. It's readable, it's just not an enjoyable read, featuring loud, 90s art and loud dialogue, a paper-thin plot, and characters that just barely resemble themselves.

Ultimately, the best thing this story has going for it is that it ties off a plot thread that's been dangling since 1980, confirming once and for all that, as Claremont intended and had hinted at (both in-universe and in interviews), Nightcrawler is the child of Mystique. Of course, in doing so, it honors the spirit of Claremont's intentions but not really the letter of them. Aside from ditching entirely the idea that Mystique is Nightcrawler's father (and Destiny his mother), in its depiction of Mystique's reaction to Nightcrawler's birth (tossing him off a waterfall), it contradicts what was implied in Claremont's teases (the idea that Mystique has some affection for Nightcrawler). But still, this issue puts this particular dangler to bed, and for the most part, it does so in a way that tracks with what's come before.

Beyond that, there's little to recommend in this issue. It's way too long, making it the first issue of the extra-long Unlimited series where the page length was really felt. Mystique is back to being a borderline raving loon, arguably more psychotic than she's ever been depicted. Graydon Creed continues to be a one-dimensional villain afflicted with 90s Angry Saliva Strand Syndrome, and most of his actions in this issue make little sense (why kill his flunky for delivering bad news? Why threaten Forge just for shits and giggles? Why let Rogue & Nightcrawler just fly off at the end?). Richard Bennet's art, which wasn't terrible in Uncanny #303 or X-Men #27, seems particularly sketchy and Image-y here, perhaps letdown by some combination of the inks and the higher quality paper. And while Lobdell takes pains to create a thematic parallel in the ending, putting Mystique and Nightcrawler in a similar situation as when Nightcrawler was an infant, it's all predicated on a pretty flimsy explanation for why Nightcrawler isn't just teleporting himself out of danger (and a huge ignorance, willful or otherwise, of how the Mississippi River works).

So, definitely not great. But is it monumentally bad? A poster child for the worst excesses and attributes of the 90s? A worthy  representation of all that was wrong in X-comics of this era? Not really. It's just a pretty crappy issue in a series that was already extraneous, from a time when the poor characterization, borderline-incoherent plotting and sloppy, Image-esque art on display was, unfortunately, becoming more and more the norm.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, "Child's Play" continues in New Warriors #45. Then Cable goes to Scotland in Cable #9. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #311.

19 comments:

  1. Why Bennett’s arts is so terrible? It’s not about being rushed, the art is actually bad. Faces look awful. I really liked his past issues, but this shows why he never got a steady job.

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  2. I totally see the flaws in this issue.... but, as a 10-year-old (11? did this come out in 1994?), I really liked it. This issue was the first where I got to read the resolution of a long-dangling plot thread as it happened. The fact that the "mysterious connection" between Nightcrawler and Mystique was featured on a Marvel Universe trading card I had bought in the previous year made it seem all the more momentous. I do also remember, as young as I was, thinking it was strange that Rogue looked so young in the flashback. (Did this issue come out after the episode "A Rogue's Tale" in the animated series? Because I think that's the only context I would have had for Rogue's pre-X-Men origin.)

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  3. I was 13 and knew the story was off even then compared to what was already known about all the characters. I don't remember the art being as bad as it looks in these scans, that's terrible, and just a year earlier we had Jim Lee, ugh. Reading this now, the book is terrible. It's like someone ghost wrote it that had never picked up an X-book, basically the whole creative team must have been drunk or high including the editors.

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  4. It's also bad that I check the site a couple of times a day to see if there are new posts, I get a bit internet OCD. Besides this, Weathering Wildstorm, Mike Sterling and Not a Hoax, there just aren't many great comic blogs anymore. NotBlogX hardly posts anymore and CBR and the other official "news" sites have become unbearible in not reporting or reviewing accuretly in order to get the paychecks from the companies they review/report on.

    I miss the days when people would review full series like this in the forums on Newsarama years back before they were bought out and took on the current look, someone was doing the New Warriors series there and that was really cool to look back on.

    Jay and Miles I used to really enjoy but have become way too into the social issues and political and they really enjoy the current X-Men stuff and I find it terrible while Diversity in Comics has really brought a lot of truth and revelation to the current industry of what's going on and hopefully it improves. I've stopped buying all new books and I doubt I'll ever start the addiction again. No time, money or much interest at this point. I still have 14 long boxes of comics I really enjoy to either re-read or read for the first time.

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    1. Yeah, I remember reading something somewhere (probably Twitter) about how comics blogging is dead (after several years in which everyone seemed to have a comics blog), and on the one hand, I can't really disagree with that, but on the other hand, I sort of defensively thought, "yeah, well, *I* won't be done with it until I get every issue of X-Men reviewed, so suck it, internet!"

      You're right though that a lot of the really great sites are defunct, on hiatus or pale shadows of their former selves. Outside of Cronin & G Kendall's pieces, CBR is a garbage fire these days, and you just don't see as many "series retrospectives" as you used to.

      Then again, I also have less time to actually read other sites nowadays (if I have time on the internet, I'm usually working on my own stuff these days). About the only ones I follow regularly anymore are Not a Hoax and the Legends Revealed posts at CBR, and I'm woefully behind on both of those, too. So maybe I'm part of the problem. :P

      I'm still digging Jay & Miles, though I really only started listening in earnest a few months ago (and I sometimes skip episodes if they're reviewing stuff that isn't either particularly good or laughably bad). But my interest in current books across the board is pretty lax these days. Outside of the Star Wars books , I more or less only buy whatever passes for the main Avengers book and the main X-book(s) (since they killed UNCANNY) these days, making my regular purchases the smallest they've been since I started collecting as a cash-addled pre-teen.

      Image stuff I mostly buy in trade (print or digital depending), and I pretty much checked out of DC with the launch of the New 52. I picked up a few Rebirth trades on the strength of strong buzz, but so long as DC continues to not offer either dual print/digital (like Marvel), or a lower-than-print digital price, I won't be buying any single issues from them (I pretty much read all my single issues on my iPad these days).

      But the big reason my current purchases have dwindled so much is just the near-constant reboots/relaunches/etc. It just makes everything feel so much more ephemeral & disconnected. Like a particular creator, storyline, team lineup or creative approach? Too bad, it'll probably get wiped away in 12-18 months so we can goose our dwindling numbers by launching a bunch of new #1s! I like to at least be able to pretend that each issue is a chapter in an ongoing storyline stretching decades, but the perpetual relaunch of series at the drop of hat really makes it harder and harder to do so. I've stuck with some awful books in the name of narrative continuity, but Marvel's current approach makes it both all too easy to drop books, and not bother to pick any new ones up (because even if it's good, it'll only last a couple years at most).

      I still love the routine of going to a comic shop on a semi-regular basis, and the current X-books are...mostly fine, if pretty generic in terms of their art and saddled with some poor creative decisions wrought by the latest SECRET WARS, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of a time I've ever approached reading a new issue with as much of a metaphoric shrug as I do now.

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  5. Aside from ditching entirely the idea that Mystique is Nightcrawler's father (and Destiny his mother)

    Not so fast, my friend! "So tell me, Graydon -- who is this woman who has supposedly sired us both?"

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    1. To be fair, people do make similar mistakes in real life- someone I knew was shocked to see a person describe a Jew as being "CHRISTENED". At least Kurt has the excuse of not being a native English speaker.

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    2. True, and I meant it as a humorous jibe anyway. But, Claremont's plans probably were known well enough in the X-office for there to be a non-negligible chance that the "mistake" was made as an intentional nod. Or, as a metamessage on how ridiculous Mystique changing her sex on reproductional level would be, especially now that Graydon has been added to the family tree.

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  6. Here, it is said that Nightcrawler's father is an unnamed German baron

    A German count. I am more than willing to write it all away as a mad fever dream, BUT if we go by this, we have to note that a count ranks high among the nobility, and there's not too many of them (68 in UK for example) so the family would have been in the public eyeeye, especially with the peer having recently deceased but there being an unborn heir to the title (in case the count didn't have older children). It may be Kurt has a legit claim to the title.

    Creed mentions that the royal family was none too thrilled, which would be utter nonsense in the German context even if the society still acknowledged "the count" as one by courtesy. BUT, there is a high-profile one in UK where the reigning House of Windsor gets badmouthed for in reality being Germans of Saxe Coburg and Gotha despite the WWI-era name change, so unless we write Lobdell off as a moron there's a possibility the currently UK-based mutant adventurer Kurt is vaguely hinted here as a distant relative to the Windsors, who probably would not be thrilled about it in the Marvel Universe version of reality. Highly thematic even today as Harry's mom is expected to meet Meghan's mom.

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    1. ... unless of course Graydon is a staunch royalist and insists on referring to the House of Hohenzollern (or some other House to whom the count is affiliated with) as the royal family. The pretender families, despite the lack of official position in the modern-day European countries, still very much are doing their thing and have the money to back it up, marrying from other high noble families while the actual reigning royals seem to have dropped the notion altogether.

      Whoever they are, the German pretenders of MU certainly would have an issue with Kurt being born out of their blood.

      It may even be that the peculiarly deceased count was a well-liked among the German peasants, who weren't at all happy about the gold-digging Mystique in the first place when she was still thought as a regular human.

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  7. So do you guys think that Mystique with her extensive intelligence background suddenly appearing as the ideological head of a "mutant terrorist group" in DoFP reeks of Mystique's Brotherhood actually being a government black-op to assassinate Senator Kennedy, and there was people in the know of "Raven Darkholme" and her mutant associates having sanctioned access to Pentagon? It doesn't make much sense "Raven" having been all her own intelligence-gaining operation because the Brotherhood didn't much do anything with the intel.

    She did have the mysterious boss she reported to on her first appearance, thought to be Sebastian Shaw, who curiously also had a huge financial stake in the Project: Wideawake started by Kelly's attempted assassination, and without a doubt extensive connections to the non-voted elements in the government.

    Sharon Kelly looks even more like Shaw's planted spy.

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  8. has the skull on forehead ever been explained?

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  9. You know, when I first read Mystique's lines to Nightcrawler about a connection between them, and then the scene where she hesitated to "kill" him, my kid self decided they were secretly brother and sister. Probably was caused by the first line mentioning a foster mother caused that connection to be made.

    I hadn't heard of what Claremont had intended for a long time after this, so, honestly, when I read this utter mess, it actually confirmed my suspicion that they were meant to be siblings, because surely with Claremont gone they wouldn't have gone through with one of his notions!

    Shows what I know.

    I wonder, though, what the hell Claremont was thinking with what he had planned. There was no way in hell Marvel would have green lit that story in the late 80s/early 90s. None. Zero. Any editor with half a brain would have killed it. Sometimes I wonder if it was an idea he had that he embellished in the years after he left the book, which seems to be something that happened a lot with him.

    You'll notice I have nothing to say about this issue. There's little to say other than god, it sucks.

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    1. I would say what Claremont did on-panel would otherwise match maybe better with Mystique being Kurt's parent rather than sister, but in #170 her birthyear is given as 1953, which would make her thirty at time. Kurt had his 21st birthday in ANNUAL #4 (where Margali is introduced to have her name dropped by Mystique in #142 soon afterwards). She's too young to be Kurt's mother but maybe also too young to be Rogue's foster mom or Irene's lover, so one maybe wants to disregard the birth year given.

      Unless we go by the Nathan Adler route that she was indeed born in 1953 but has amassed considerably more years as an agent of Landau Luckman and Lake (as seen in X-MEN: TRUE FRIENDS where also the curiously adamantium-clawed Wolverine is met in 1936).

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    2. @Jack, Teemu and Austin: Here it is laid out in all its glory, part 1 below and part 2 in my subsequent comment;)

      In Uncanny X-Men Annual #4 (1980), Margali Szardos summons the Eye of Agamotto off Dr. Strange and uses it reveal "…the infant Kurt Wagner -- barely an hour old -- found beside his dying mother, taken in by the Gypsy Witch-Queen Margali Szardos, and raised as one of her own." When using the Eye of Agamotto at this moment Kurt was bathed in a powerful mystical light that allowed the past events of how she found him by the roadside as a baby.

      In Uncanny X-Men #142 (Feb 81), in the ensuing fight with Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants when the X-Men stop their assassination attempt on Senator Robert Kelly, Nightcrawler notes that her "true form – meingott, we are so alike!" and upon asking her "Who are you?!" she replies "Ask… your mother, Margali Szardos. Who would better know than -- she?".

      Then, in Uncanny X-Men #170 (Jun 83), captions written by Claremont for the "dream sequence" where Mystique is getting hunted by Lady Jean Grey and Sir Jason Wyngarde, note it to be occurring in "1783, the place England, their quarry a woman who will not be born for another 170 years", indicating she was born in 1953 (exactly 30 years before the story's setting). So there is no way she could have been Kurt's father or mother without time-travel being involved.

      In Uncanny X-Men #177 (Jan 84) Kurt is beginning to question Margali's account of him as a foundling as a result of leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Mystique's response to him in Uncanny X-Men #142 when he asked if there was a connection between them that he "ask your mother, ask Margali Szardos." When he consequently asks his girlfriend "Who am I…? Where do I come from?! What is my real family?" Amanda Sefton responds "I know what Mom told me -- she found you, new-born and barely alive, in a roadside shelter in the Black Forest. A man -- your father, I guess -- lay outside…". It is not unlikely that this contradiction is intentional, given Kurt's questioning of Margali's account to Amanda, in their conversation in #177, to such an extent as "Did she even try to find my family? So how can Margali's story (revealed by the Eye of Agamotto) be reconciled with what Mystique said in Uncanny X-Men#142?

      In the earlier half of Uncanny X-Men #177, when Mystique kills six of the seven X-Men robot simulacrums which she hired from Arcade to help her prepare for battle with the real X-Men when she planned to return Rogue to her and Irene, she hesitates when it comes to the robot Nightcrawler. While this could be used as further evidence to suggest she was always intended as Kurt's biological mother, when Destiny says "You could not harm a facsimile Nightcrawler -- how will you fare against the man himself? If he’s killed..." Mystique responds "Be silent, woman! Mention him again… at your peril. The X-Men have my child and if I have to slaughter them all to rescue her, then I shall!" And just prior to this, after her hesitation with the Nightcrawler robot, Mystique discusses with Arcade about how to conduct further training sessions (with always one android set to kill) meaning that she wants to be ready to kill Kurt if that was "necessary" to "rescue" Rogue. It doesn't make sense that she would believe it was necessary for her to kill her biological son in order to "rescue" her foster daughter?!

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    3. Part 2: Applying logic to Mystique's statement would lead to the conclusion that almost plenty of possible relationships were more likely than Kurt being her biological son, especially if you factor in that Mystique apparently was only 30 years old per Uncanny X-Men #170 (and at that point there was no reason to assume that time-travel was somehow involved) and that she said to Kurt in Uncanny X-Men #142 when he asked "Who are you?", "Ask your mother, Margali Szardos. Who would know better than she?", which showed she knew an awful lot about Kurt Wagner before then, even about his pre-X-Men days, for Kurt had been out of touch with Margali since before his first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), and both the readers and the X-Men only learned about her in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4 (1980; it came out one month before UXM #142). And it clearly indicates that not only did Mystique know about Margali, but Margali also knew about Mystique, by all evidence before Mystique came to wider attention (her debut was in 1978 in Ms. Marvel #18). Which would make it very likely that the stories Margali told Kurt and Amanda about finding baby Nightcrawler next to his dead mother or father may not have been true or have left out crucial details. All of which brings up the question: If Kurt is Mystique's son and she was aware that Margali Szardos had him, why didn't she try to retrieve him? Whereas if she was Kurt's sister, possibly only a few years older than him, one could say that she was too young to do anything about Margali taking him away from her. Of course there are other possible scenarios. Recall that upon Margali summoning the Eye of Agamotto from Dr. Strange in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4 and using it, at this moment Kurt was bathed in a powerful mystical light, the same light that allowed Dr. Strange to see past events! So it's unlikely the images and memories it unfolded (particularly of Kurt being found beside his dead father) were faked by Margali as is later claimed since you'll recall this mystical light it emitted previously allowed Dr. Strange to see through all illusions. And when Amanda recalled her mother telling her she found him beside the body of his dead mother perhaps she was just recalling the incorrect parent as Margali had told her when she was much younger.

      So what if Kurt was the biological son of Margali and Mystique's late beloved elder brother (let's call him Mr. Szardos) -- quite likely a shape-shifter like herself -- and Jimaine was an adoptive child (Claremont did confirm this by revealing her to likewise be a foundling taken in by Margali in his short-lived Nightcrawler series)? Mr. Szardos could have met his (probably violent) end around the time of Kurt's birth, and that would have inspired the cover story of Margali finding the child by the roadside (maybe she wanted to hide the fact that she had given birth to a child that looked so much like a demon and thus pretended that the foundling Amanda was her biological child and Kurt the foundling). So Margali as Kurt's actual mother would have the better right to raise him than his aunt Mystique, but she can't help thinking of her late brother whom she misses so much whenever she sees Kurt, and she sheds a silent tear...

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    4. Part 3: So in conclusion there is no need or reason to assume that Claremont made a mistake in Uncanny X-Men #170 (which he wrote with the mysterious connection between Kurt and Mystique already in place), the likelihood of Kurt being Raven's son was extremely remote as it would have required stuff like time-travel, forced aging, false memories or what have you to work. While Kurt in any case, also as brother or nephew, would in all likelihood have been Mystique's only living blood relation, to me that is strong enough a reason for her to behave as she did in Uncanny X-Men #177.

      So despite Claremont's later claim that he intended Nightcrawler to be the biological son of Mystique and Destiny which editorial would never let fly, the fact that he earlier indicated abandoning the origin for Kurt he planned to emerge out of Judith Rassendyll's introduction because it just wasn't clicking for him, I'd suggest this wasn't what he intended from those earlier stories and my own above is more likely.

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    5. That's pretty damned definitive, if you ask me. Well done. If nothing else, it scuppers the Nightcrawler is Mystique's son notion big time.

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  10. What terrible art. There’s one panel of Forge seated at a table I just. cannot. believe.

    Steve Moncuse, the credited inker, is best known to me as the creator of ’80s indie series Fish Police — very briefly, and out of left field, turned into a primetime animated show on CBS — but I’ve checked the GCD and I see that he did a fair amount of inking for Marvel in the ’90s. I’m not arguing that Moncuse didn’t ink this abomination, mind you, even if the art bears no resemblance to his more familiar style; Jim Valentino’s Marvel work was nothing like Normalman, and like I’ve said a couple of times now my sole association with Richard Bennet before reading this stretch recently was the much cleaner Deathblow/Wolverine.

    The story’s also pretty awful, of course. My die-hard X-Men fandom was well in the past when this issue was published, so while the the long-awaited revelation of Mystique’s actual relation to Nightcrawler would’ve been a real event to me once upon a time, and while the level of quality here is so low that it’s still a disappointment purely on an objective baseline of professionalism, I had no emotional attachment to be shattered when it hit the racks of the comics shop where I’d recently started working. Even though I recall a fair amount of X-Men stuff from this period in broad strokes, due to the perk of getting to read stuff on the racks to stay current without having to buy it all, nothing in this issue rang a bell with me and I might’ve just shrugged it off.

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