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Mar 28

Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 annotations

Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Nightcrawler sees Phoenix and Thunderbird in the X-Men’s overgrown mansion.

PAGE 2. Establishing shots of the Mansion.

This is the X-Men’s traditional base, now abandoned and overgrown with Krakoan plant life, which we last saw in House of X #1. Panel 1 is the front of the Mansion; panel 2 is Xavier’s study; panel 3 is the Danger Room; panel 4 is Cerebro; panel 5 is the main hall, with the Krakoan gate in the middle. Normally in the Hickman era the Krakoan foliage is portrayed as lush and positive, but here (when it comes directly up against a symbol of traditional X-Men-ness) it’s a sign of dilapidation. An unanswered question is precisely why the X-Men have abandoned the Mansion entirely. You’d think they’d have more attachment to it than this.

PAGE 2. Nightcrawler and his team arrive in the Mansion.

From left to right, this is Magik, Eye-Boy, Cypher, Nightcrawler and Lockheed. Magik and Cypher are regulars in New Mutants, Lockheed in Marauders, and Nightcrawler surely needs no introduction. Eye-Boy, a regular in Wolverine and the X-Men and latterly Generation X, is making his first significant appearance of the Hickman era, though he did have a cameo in New Mutants #7. This is an investigatory team rather than a high-power one.

The X-Men are here because not only have there been repeated failed attempts to access the gateway, but Krakoa has detected a mutant in the vicinity each time. It’s not really clear why this is billed as a Nightcrawler solo story, to be honest; plenty of characters could have filled his role here.

PAGE 3. Credits. The story is “Haunted Mansion” by Jonathan Hickman and Alan Davis (who are co-credited as writers).

PAGES 4-8. Lockheed lashes out at the apparent ghost of Thunderbird.

The guy in shadow is the original Thunderbird, or at least seems to be (his face remains in shadow). Thunderbird is the X-Man who got killed in X-Men vol 1 #95, almost immediately after joining the team. He’s been mentioned before in the Hickman run as a DNA source used by Mr Sinister. Nightcrawler knew him, but Lockheed didn’t, so presumably he’s just recognising “Thunderbird” as a threat or a ghost.

PAGES 9-11. Nightcrawler and co come upon Phoenix (Rachel Summers).

This is Phoenix in her costume (and hairstyle) from Excalibur, when she and Nightcrawler were teammates. Oddly, Nightcrawler says that she looks like a Hound. Phoenix’s back story involves her coming from a dystopian future in which she was enslaved and forced to hunt other mutants – a Hound. Phoenix’s Excalibur-era costume does resemble her Hound outfit with the spikes, which was clearly intentional, but the colour was different. Perhaps Nightcrawler only sees her at first in shadow.

Unlike Thunderbird, the real Rachel is alive and well on Krakoa.

PAGES 12-14. Nightcrawler and co follow Phoenix underground.

I’ve no idea what Rachel’s saying – if you know of an established cypher for this font, let me know.

PAGES 15-16. Cypher discovers an alien antimatter drive.

The creature which approaches him at the end is a Sidrian Hunter. The Sidri are an alien race of bounty hunters who first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #154. The ones seen in that issue were much bigger than these, though – they stood about as high as the X-Men – but the Sidri always had the power to merge into a single larger body, and smaller ones were seen in later issues. Perhaps the Sidri’s natural size is much smaller and they simply gang up together to form the larger fighters that the X-Men fought before. We’re also told later that these are all hatchlings.

The Sidri showed up again in Uncanny X-Men #168, at which point some of them had attempted to colonise the lower levels of the Mansion (much as they do here). Their only other X-Men appearance was in X-Men vol 4 #18-19, when they tried to capture Deathbird’s unborn child. That story did feature some Sidri of the size we see here.

In previous stories, the Sidri are a silent, faceless horde. They’re barely characters, more a swarm – hence their hive mind portrayal in this issue. Note that the Sidri also get a passing mention as a hive mind in this week’s X-Men, and that hive minds seemed to be quite a big deal in Powers of X.

PAGES 17-21. Nightcrawler and co catch up with Rachel, who turns out to be a bunch of Sidri.

In the Sidri’s incoherent flashback, they’re remembering their first battle with the X-Men in Uncanny #154 (hence Corsair being there). Apparently this is another set of Sidri who were left behind, on top of the ones previously seen in Uncanny #168.

PAGE 22. Cypher tries to make friends with the Sidri.

PAGE 23. Nightcrawler sends Magik to retrieve Cypher.

Both fairly self-explanatory.

PAGES 24-25. Magik discovers Cypher’s secret.

It turns out that Cypher’s techno-organic arm isn’t a techno-organic arm at all – it’s Warlock, being worn by Cypher. Quite why is a story for another time, but it might suggest that Cypher has his doubts about everything that’s going on on Krkaoa. Except Cypher already had the techno-organic arm when he first arrived on Krakoa, as seen in flashback in Powers of X #4. All very curious.

PAGES 26-30. Cypher reveals that the Sidri have captured Lady Mastermind.

Apparently the ghosts are due to Lady Mastermind lashing out with her powers to send a message… though quite why she’d do it in this way is a little difficult to follow. Lady Mastermind (Regan Wyngarde) is an illusionist, and the daughter of Silver Age villain Mastermind. She was briefly a member of the X-Men during the Mike Carey run, but ultimately betrayed the team. Naturally, she’s welcome on Krakoa. But in this story, she’ s mainly here because of her convenient powers.

Cypher’s peace deal with the Sidri involves letting them nest in the abandoned Mansion, in return for keeping the gateway clear for use. It’s a rather unsatisfactory ending, and Nightcrawler’s attempt to give the final page a bit of resolution feels rather forced to me.

PAGES 31-33. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: MAGNETO.

Bring on the comments

  1. Scott Brewer says:

    I’m confused about the mansion being there. Wasn’t the Jean Grey School built on it’s ruins?

  2. SanityOrMadness says:

    Yeah, this version of the mansion hasn’t existed since it was blown up in the Morrison run. The ReLoad Mansion was a new design, the Jean Grey School was different again – and even if it wasn’t, it was moved to Limbo, then to Central Park where it was destroyed in UXM Disassembled.

    Apparently, it was rebuilt to the original design (including books in Xavier’s office, and Movie Cerebro) some time between the end of Rosenberg’s Uncanny and everyone decamping to Krakoa. Which is just bizarre.

  3. Joseph S. says:

    Wasn’t Lady Mastermind also the rival studio head in the Amazing Nightcrawler series?

  4. Ben says:

    This was retro gobbledygook.

    Evidently these Giant Sizes were all intended to be Hickman written Annuals for all the current books, but we’re retrofitted into this.

    So this was the New Mutants Annual turned into a Nightcrawler book were he does very little and doesn’t seem to have much personality.

    Even the Warlock reveal is meaningless, because we’ve already seen him and Doug’s arm.

    And yes, they must have built this old version of the mansion just so they could dramatically abandon it.

  5. Chris V says:

    It looked like Doug Ramsey secretly infected Krakoa with the techno-organic virus in that Powers of X issue.

    If anything hinted at in that series actually has any meaning, or if it was all simply meant to make us think that Krakoa was something sinister, at this point I’ve given up even wondering.

  6. Drew says:

    I enjoyed this story and all, but I guess they figured “Giant Size X-Men: Cypher” wouldn’t sell as well? Because it’s definitely more Doug’s story than Kurt’s. Does Kurt do anything that any X-Man chosen at random couldn’t have done?

  7. YLu says:

    Each of these Giant-Sizers is artist-driven, with the starting point being Hickman asking the artist what they want to draw.

    If I had to guess, this is Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler because Alan Davis answered “Nightcrawler.”

    I do wish they at least briefly brought up his religious cogitation from the Crucible issue of the main series. To create a sense of a throughline if nothing else, to give the sense that we’re following these character’s ongoing, progressing lives. They could have tied it how the Sidri hatchlings themselves are feeling lost and separated from their purpose. Draw a parallel there. (Basically, the sort of thing Al Ewing does so well whenever he’s borrowing characters from another book.)

  8. wwk5d says:

    This issue was something of a mess, but it’s always great to see Alan Davis artwork, and always great to see him drawing Nightcrawler.

    Who knows what, if any, impact this issue will have on the title as a whole. I mean, the Jean and Emma issue had Storm in a coma or whatever, and have any of the other titles addressed that?

  9. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    “Giant Size X-Men: Storm” is supposed to do that. It will be the last of these one shots.

  10. Michael says:

    It really is all sorts of baffling.
    Why rebuild the classic X-Mansion when we’ve had several other designs (and relocations) since the last time it was used? Why abandon it so dramatically, unless it’s supposed to be some sort of weird repudiation of “the old ways?”

    Frankly, if you retconned this entire issue as an illusionary by-product of Lady Mastermind’s condition, I’d totally believe it.

    I expect that, given the uber-storyline’s emphasis on things like technology, hive-minds, AIs, technorganic hijinks and the like, Warlock is basically keeping as low a profile as possible. But even so, the whole Doug/Warlock thing is weird and hopefully will be followed up on sooner rather than later.

    Given how -long- it’s been since the Sidri first attacked the X-Men on Earth, and how many times the mansion was destroyed, abandoned, rebuilt, relocated, etc since, it’s hard to believe they could have lasted this long in… I dunno, egg form? without someone noticing at some point.

    A strange story in general.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    The “Prestige” name for Rachel (from X-Men:Gold) did not stick, now did it? I feel like no one even remembers it besides me.

  12. Alan L says:

    When I saw the name change announced, I was already waiting eagerly for the day the name was abandoned. It is a singularly unconvincing new hero name, really poorly suited to Rachel.

  13. Evilgus says:

    Came for the Alan Davis art! Love his classic Nightcrawler, Rachel and Lockheed too 🙂 even if the plot was a bit thin, and definitely not a “Nightcrawler” spotlight.

    To be fair, given how episodic main X-Men issues have been, could have slotted this into that run quite happily.

    Davis’ art was a bit more sketchy than usual though – no Mark Farmer on this issue for inks, perhaps?

    Intrigued where the Warlock thing goes,and Illyana being sworn to secrecy. But felt like an oddly anti climatic reveal after the very sinister montage of Cypher, Warlock and Krakoa recently.

  14. Evilgus says:

    Oh and maybe we should just let Rachel quietly slip back into the timestream. She had some narrative purpose while Jean was still dead – but if the editors have to wilfully sideline Rachel during Phoenix 5 storylines, or Battle of the Atom, and whatnot, you have to ask why keep her around now. Other than the fact every x-character ever is present and correct.

    I do say this as a Rachel fan, btw!

  15. Mikey says:

    Not just Rachel. As soon as Teen Jean joined the books, Hope Summers all but disappeared. Now she’s relegated to the creepy, vacant resurrection team.

  16. Voord 99 says:

    I’d personally feel that there’s more, rather than less, narrative purpose to Rachel with Jean (and Scott) alive as when they were dead.

    I don’t think we’ve ever had the Grey-Summers family miniseries, with Jean, Scott, Rachel, and Cable all going off and having wacky adventures together while exploring the meaning of family, but it seems a pretty obvious story to do. Hell, do *that* as an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover.

  17. Andrew says:

    So Hickman tweeted a few days ago that he only came up with a rough outline for this before sending it to Davis and it came back fully drawn and dialogued, hence why Davis is credited as co-creator on it.

  18. Si says:

    All right, since everyone’s asking about the mansion. No Prize time. The original series of Damage Control came out at a time when the X-Men were pretending to be dead, and it was possibly the very first time the mansion was destroyed.

    In that story, Damage Control had to go turn off the Shiar systems, because the mansion was trying to rebuild itself.

    So this time, the X-Men are legally alive, and there to say “no don’t turn it off, we’ll just feed it more bricks.” And the mansion rebuilt itself to its original specs because there was nobody there to tell it otherwise.

  19. YLu says:

    @Voord 99

    I feel the problem with Rachel is that, while daughter/parent relationships are eminently relatable for audiences and writers, a daughter-who-will-one-day-be-born-in-a-dystopian-future-that-will-no-longer-happen/parent relationship is just some weird superhero thing impossible to relate to.


    I know what you mean, but an artist would still be the co-creator even if they were working from an Alan Moore-level full script.

  20. Si says:

    You know a cool thing you could do with Rachel Summers?

    Have Jean Grey fall pregnant with her.

  21. JCG says:


    Pretty much a non-starter given that time is basically frozen in superhero comics.

    Would just lead to more silly non-relatable time-travel wackiness.

  22. Voord 99 says:

    @YLu: My position is that on of the things that X-books can do well is take something weird like that and approach it on a human level.

    It’s something that, historically, they’ve been good at – using bizarre superhero concepts as metaphors to speak to real things that are less extreme. In this particular case, it has obvious potential as a heightened metaphor for the adopted child who gets in touch with their biological parent as an adult. I have an instance of that in my own family, as it happens, and perhaps as a result, I find this all quite easy to relate to.

    It’s much closer than superpowers as a metaphor for puberty, and no-one seems to find that difficult to relate to in the X-books.

  23. YLu says:

    I was going to say the adopted child metaphor doesn’t work for me because Rachel actually did know her parents — it’s just a sorta-future version of them. I feel that breaks the metaphor in a pretty fundamental way powers=puberty doesn’t.

    But then I realized I either don’t know or don’t recall how well she did know her parents in her original timeline. They died when she was pretty young, didn’t they?

  24. Voord 99 says:

    I don’t know how precise that ever was.

    But in any case, there are a couple of obvious responses. One is that if you present the story from Jean’s perspective, that only heightens the metaphor – part of what can be going on in such situations in real life is the experience of having someone turn up claiming a connection with you – it’s more extreme if Rachel really does have a connection to *a* Jean, but not *this* Jean.

    Second, though, Rachel’s real experience with a mother can stand in metaphorically – but made concrete, which is often how metaphors work – for the ideas and expectations that a child has of their biological parent.

    Any metaphor fails if you insist on an exact match, because then it’s not a metaphor, Metaphors illuminate by opening up areas of difference as well as areas of similarity. It’s not a sensible objection to someone being called a lion in battle to point out that they didn’t have tawny hair and claws.

    (Similarly, it is not a sensible objection to what we usually call the “mutant metaphor” to point out that marginalized minorities don’t have superpowers. That’s what makes it a metaphor!)

  25. Chris says:

    Jean never birthed a child yet somehow repeatedly has a hand in raising Summers children over and over and over….

    And in this case Rachel is referred to as one of “the kids” by Scott.

    Frankly I just like how resurrection gives the writers access to all the possible action figures in the toy box.

    Whether or not they have souls is the better question.

  26. YLu says:

    @Voord 99

    It’s not about whether it’s a perfect 1:1 metaphor — I think that’s a bit of a strawman, to be honest — but *how* it’s different.

    To go back to mutant powers as a metaphor for puberty, that works because, fundamentally, it’s about a young person reacting to strange, scary changes in their own body. Yes, there are differences between the two, but none of them really affect that central similarity.

    But the head space of someone meeting their parents for the first time vs. someone who knows them full well but suddenly finds themselves in a situation where the parents don’t remember them… they’re just so different in terms of interiority that I don’t see much metaphorical meat there.

    It’d be like using a story about a man disguised as a woman for espionage purposes as a metaphor for transgender transitioning.

    But, of course, ultimately this is all subjective.

    Good point about how the metaphor does work if we approach it from Jean’s own point of view, but I’d argue that makes it a Jean story and doesn’t contribute much to the viability of Rachel as her own character.

  27. Adrian says:

    “You know a cool thing you could do with Rachel Summers?

    Have Jean Grey fall pregnant with her.”

    This would be great character development. Kill off Rachel and actually have Jean and Scott deal with a baby. While they are at it, get rid of Nate and Cable. Two characters that have no story usefulness and are glaring red signs on how ridiculous and absurd X-Men continuity is. Bishop should probably pack his bags too.

  28. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    At this point Bishop is just a generic superhero with military/police background. Especially now that the writers have decided the whole hunt for Hope/dealing with the fallout of hunt for Hope thing is done and don’t mention it at all.

    Which for me isn’t a point against him, I’m trying to point out that the fact that he comes from a possible dark-ish future is irrelevant now. There’s nothing broken about him.

    (Again, once we ignore the war crimes… like the writers do!)

  29. Thom H. says:

    Poor Rachel. Marvel’s insistence on creating multiple dystopian futures (and characters from those futures) really undercut any potential she had to shine a long time ago.

    I’m not sure how much Rachel is still the angry teen who acts out every chance she gets (e.g., claiming the Phoenix Force and name for herself, trying to kill Selene, psychically lashing out at her teammates), but she should be written that way again. That angle at least gives writers something to work with.

    And I completely agree that the other dystopian-future types should disappear. At best they’re nostalgia magnets, at worst convoluted story knots.

    Imagine this scenario: one by one, time-displaced characters begin to fade from the present. The X-Men figure out that they’re disappearing in reverse order of their original appearance, which means Rachel is going to be the last to go. That realization gives Rachel, Jean, and Scott the impetus to finally have the conversation they should have had 25 years ago a la Voord’s adopted/biological child metaphor. Including the aforementioned tantrum-throwing and displays of power, but ending with love and acceptance.

    Then: Rachel disappears. Super sad! But now the X-Men know that none of those potential timelines are going to happen. They might have a bright future after all. Bitter sweet!

    Of course, I haven’t been paying attention to this aspect of continuity for a long time, so there are probably a million reasons why that treatment wouldn’t work. But I like the idea, and I have way too much time on my hands right now, so there you have it.

  30. Evilgus says:

    @Thom H
    I really like that idea! It serves as a deck clearing exercise, gets some good character development, and some closure. Shame we’ll never see that come to pass…!

    I also like the idea of Jean becoming pregnant with “Rachel” for the same reasons of closure… Though this undercuts the Rachel is unique in multiverse thing. And I genuinely don’t like it when female characters become encumbered with babies. Not because there isn’t plenty of valid plot to mine, but because of the weird way aging works in comic books. The children either have to disconcertingly jump in age or fall into the time stream and pop out the other end. Has a baby in the Marvel universe ever not been artificially aged up?!

    Anyway, be interesting to see how Rachel is used or abused in the upcoming X-Factor series. I suspect it’ll be interchangeable with another character, at the going rate.

  31. Chris says:

    I don’t like deck clearing exercises for characters that don’t see much use anyway.

    It’s better to shelve them by giving them regular lives and regular jobs like they did with ICEMAN for five frickin minutes.

  32. Adam says:

    I only bought this for the Alan Davis art, and I’m realizing I’m more of a Davis/Farmer (or Davis/Neary or Davis/Riggs, etc.) fan than I am a Davis/Davis fan.

    He is still the all-time greatest Nightcrawler artist.

  33. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Evilgus ‘Has a baby in the Marvel universe ever not been artificially aged up?!’

    Well, the answer to such a question can only ever be ‘such and such… yet’.

    Danielle Cage is still a small child – though we’ve seen at least two adult Danielles, none remains in the present.

    William Grant Nelson – mostly through obscurity – it’s the Tigra/Skrull Pym baby. He barely appears, which allows him to remain a small child.

    Shogo – we’ve seen adult Shogo in Battle of the Atom, but he didn’t stick around.

    Also Luna Maximoff – which is a little surprising, considering she’s a child of a couple almost-prominent characters. I mean, I think she might’ve gone from an infant to around six years old off-panel, but as far as I know no artificial plot-device was involved. She’s about primary school age now. Come to think of it, she might be the most normally developing child in Marvel comics… unless I missed something. I don’t have a good grasp on Avengers/Inhumans history, I was mostly going by wiki on this.

  34. Evilgus says:

    @Adam: agree with that comment!

    @Krzysiek: Luna is safe for now as she’s no longer related to Magneto, right? Until she is again 🙂

    The other issue with babies (as per Shogo/Jubilee) is the bizarre contortions writers go through as to why anyone, super powered or no, would bring actively bring a baby near a dangerous fight situation. Seriously Jubes, just leave Shogo behind for a few issues!

  35. CJ says:

    The House of X status quo is actually a great time to trim down the large number of time-traveling and/or alternate dystopian X-Men.

  36. Mark Coale says:

    There is a grown-up Luna (albeit from a different timeline) in that great FF annual done by Kesel and Immonen, when Ben meets an FF that had been again naturally since 1961.

  37. Sol says:

    I have a huge soft spot for the Sidri, as #154 was (if I’m remembering correctly) the fifth issue of X-men that I read, from the first batch of X-men comics I ever purchased, and the first one I ever read where I had actually read the previous issue before. All of which also means it was probably the newest issue when I started buying X-men comics.

  38. Paul G. says:

    I enjoyed this issue a lot, mostly for the art. Seeing Davis draw Nightcrawler or Rachel in the Hound outfit is like coming home after years away.

    That said, it was annoying that Lady Mastermind has already arrived on Krakoa, one of the legions of villains that arrived in House of X #5. If all you need is the power set, at least have it be the other Lady Mastermind so that you don’t contradict one of the pivotal issues of the run.

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