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Nov 30

X-Men Blue: Origins #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

Writer: Si Spurrier
Artists: Wilton Santos (with Oren Junior) & Marcus To
Colour artist: Ceci De La Cruz
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1: Mystique and Nightcrawler (in his Spider-Man costume) in action together. I think the thing in the background is meant to be the Stark Sentinel from Uncanny Spider-Man #4.

X-Men Blue: Origins. The title is a play on the ongoing series X-Men Blue that ran for 36 issues in 2017-2018.

PAGES 2-5. Flashback: Mystique resists Professor X’s mental control and falls off a cliff.

This is a straight recap of a scene in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 #1. We were told in that issue that her body was taken away by the sea, and naturally she showed up again in New York in Uncanny Spider-Man #1.

The recap narrator is the mysterious Bamf that hangs around talking to Nightcrawler, invisible to everyone else, in Uncanny Spider-Man; for present purposes, though, he just gives us a bare-bones recap of Hellfire Gala.

PAGE 6. Flashback: Mystique escapes the Hellfire Gala.

Basically, Mystique picks herself up pretty much immediately, already obsessing about “my baby” (as she has been in Uncanny Spider-Man). She kills and replaces a random Orchis soldier and escapes that way.

PAGE 7. Nightcrawler asks Mystique to talk.

This issue takes place immediately after page 19 of Uncanny Spider-Man #4, although unfortunately the art doesn’t quite match up – in that issue it’s snowing, and Nightcrawler approaches her unmasked and a little more calmly.

The Bamf rightly gestures at Nightcrawler’s status quo in Uncanny Spider-Man and identifies that it doesn’t matter to this story at all.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGES 9-12. Nightcrawler tries to calm Mystique, and she starts to recount the story.

Much of this issue is devoted to retelling and rewriting the existing accounts of Nightcrawler’s conception, gestation and birth, which come mainly from X-Men Unlimited #4 (1994) and Uncanny X-Men #428 (2003). I already recapped this in Uncanny Spider-Man #2’s annotations, but it’s so important to this issue that we may as well just repeat it rather than link to it:

  • In X-Men Unlimited #4 (1994), Graydon Creed recounts the version of the story known to him. According to Graydon, Mystique “was the widow of a recently deceased German count”, who she may have killed; she was living with him simply for the money. Her cover was blown when she gave birth to Kurt. Some sort of mob – Graydon calls them “the royal family” – tries to kill Kurt. Raven changes to her original form to scare them and tries to escape with Kurt. She drops Kurt at a waterfall and flees to save herself. The mob then throw Kurt over a waterfall. All of this, of course, is hearsay. Later in the issue, Mystique gives her version, which broadly matches Graydon’s. She claims that she disguised herself as the villager and threw Kurt over the cliff in order to cover her own escape.
  • In Uncanny X-Men #428 (2003), Chuck Austen spends an entire issue on a much expanded version. This account is basically consistent with X-Men Unlimited #4, though it names the Count as Christian Wagner and establishes that Raven was living with him under her real name. They were supposedly trying to have a child, and Christian was apparently infertile. Christian introduces her to Azazel, then posing as a ruler of a Caribbean island, who somehow knows that she’s a mutant, and seduces her as part of his plan to have lots of children on Earth (for reasons connected with the plot of “The Draco”). Raven murders Christian because he suspects Azazel of being the father. Kurt is born, and Raven lapses into her true appearance during the birth. A torch-wielding mob pursues her, and in this version Raven herself throws the baby off a cliff before making her escape. Austen is clearly aware of X-Men Unlimited #4 but makes no attempt to suggest that Raven has any agenda in living with Christian beyond his wealth, and doesn’t attempt to explain how Destiny fits in to any of this. In fairness to Austen, Destiny had been dead for years at this point. Austen’s version of the waterfall scene contradicts the earlier versions, showing Raven in her natural form and with no pretext that she’s posing as a villager. She’s just trying to kill Kurt.

The version that Mystique tells here is basically Uncanny X-Men #428, except for the point right at the end where she remembers going back to rescue Destiny.

PAGES 13-14. Nightcrawler uses the Hopesword to make Mystique remember.

The shattered image behind Mystique in page 14 panel 1 is Charles Xavier erasing her memories, a scene which we see on pages 32-33. The idea is apparently that his mental block has finally broken down, through the combined effect of his attempt to force her through the gates in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 and the influence of the Hopesword.

PAGE 15. Mystique begins her story.

Mystique essentially credits her and Destiny as having an open relationship in which they spent extended periods of time apart – something which is pretty much forced by a whole bunch of flashback stories that appeared during the many years when Destiny was supposed to be dead.

PAGE 16. Flashback: Raven hires Irene to work for Christian.

We’re not given any clear explanation of why Mystique worked for Christian beyond the act that he had “resources”, which is all we really need here. The bit about Mystique recruiting Irene to come and join her in the castle in the guise of a maid is completely new. The scene with Azazel posing as a business associate at a party, and then seducing Raven, comes from Uncanny #428.

PAGE 17. Flashback: Irene asks to start a family.

Obviously, this is the big retcon: Mystique and Destiny are Nightcrawler’s parents, which by many accounts is what Chris Claremont wanted to do in the first place. More of that in a bit.

Mystique says here that she couldn’t understand why Irene encouraged the affair. On page 31, we’re told that Irene deliberately engineered the creation of Kurt for various plot reasons (which, again, we’ll come back to). That doesn’t outright contradict Irene’s statement here that she hasn’t had a vision in months, but it certainly raises the possibility that Irene is actually just upset herself at having taken the decision to have a child and then abandon it.

‘There were other pregnancies…” Leaving aside characters that we’ve seen in alternate timelines, there are only two existing characters who Mystique might have in mind here. One is Graydon Creed, her son by Sabretooth. The other is Destiny’s daughter Justine Chase, an extremely obscure character from a handful of Howard Mackie X-Factor stories in 1997.

PAGES 18-20. Nightcrawler questions the mechanics of all this.

Let’s take this together with…

PAGE 21. Data page: a memo from Dr Nemesis (a regular in predecessor title Legion of X) about how Mystique’s powers work.

Basically, what Nemesis is saying – in line with Mystique in the previous scene – is that her powers go beyond shapeshifting to actually copying the DNA of people she has met. Presumably this somehow sits on top of her underlying DNA, since if she changed all her DNA to become an exact copy of someone else, she’d erase her own mutant gene.

But the basic idea here seems to be that Mystique can become biologically male by copying a male target, and therefore she can father a child. Moreover, when she fathered Kurt, she was copying Azazel (possibly among others). This retcon allows Kurt to be the child of Mystique and Destiny while doing minimal damage to “The Draco”, a storyline which turned on Kurt being Azazel’s son, but only required a genetic link.

PAGES 22-25. Flashback: Mystique continues her story and Kurt is born.

All of this is a complete rewrite of Uncanny #428. In the original story, Christian is broadly sympathetic, and Raven kills him in order to cover up her affair with Azazel. This version wants Mystique to be more sympathetic and so gives her a slightly better reason to kill him.

The doctor attending the birth is drawn as the same one shown in Uncanny #428.

PAGES 26-27. Flashback: Mystique flees the castle.

This is a heavy rewrite of the earlier stories; Mystique no longer tries to dispose of the newborn, but tries to leave him in a safe place while she doubles back to rescue Irene, only to lose both.

PAGE 28-29. Nightcrawler unmasks.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t match the lead-in scene in Uncanny Spider-Man #4 at all, where he was already unmasked. Oh well.

PAGE 30. Flashback: Irene introduces Raven to Rogue.

We’re not directly told why Irene felt the need to disappear for five years, but she resurfaces just in time to get Raven to help runaway Anne Marie. This flatly contradicts Rogue’s account of her first meeting with Mystique in X-Men Unlimited #4, where Rogue is a tomboy runaway clutching a shotgun. However, that flashback itself claims that Rogue is on the run after putting a boy called Cody Robbins into a coma, as shown in the back-up strip in Classic X-Men #44. But that’s completely impossible, because Rogue is already living with Mystique in that very back-up strip. With this issue added, the scene in X-Men Unlimited #4 is so intractably inconsistent with other stories that it should probably be dismissed as non-canon.

Disregarding X-Men Unlimited #4, the other main source of information about Rogue’s childhood before meeting Mystique is a series of flashbacks in Rogue #2 (2004), which does confirm that she ran away from home.

Irene is drawn awfully young here, considering how she looks by the time Rogue reaches adulthood and joins the X-Men.

PAGE 31. Flashback: Destiny explains why she conceived Kurt.

For one brief moment, Azazel has to be a major threat here in order to justify Destiny bringing him into the picture. Basically, she’s saying that she engineered the conception of a child who would sabotage Azazel’s plans in “The Draco” and prevent him from ruling the world.

“That old witch Szardos” is Margali Szardos, Kurt’s adoptive mother. Apparently, it was desperately important that Kurt should be raised by her in order to set up his life to go in the right direction.

PAGES 32-33. Flashback: Charles Xavier erases the memories of Raven, Irene and himself.

Since Xavier isn’t in a wheelchair, we must be back in the pre-Silver Age, before he lost the use of his legs. (If it was after he regained the ability to walk then the X-Men would already have fought Mystique’s Brotherhood for the first time and Destiny would be much, much older.)

Xavier leaves Mystique with the knowledge that she’s Kurt’s mother – consistent with what she knew when they first met in Uncanny X-Men – but warns that her mind will invent a story around what it still remembers, which might be even worse. Mystique says that “he made me think I abandoned you”, but Xavier’s actual dialogue implies that this was the story that Mystique herself came up with.

Presumably, Uncanny X-Men #428 is now to be taken as the version of events that Mystique remembered. That’s a bit awkward because Uncanny #428 is not presented as a flashback, but simply as a story set in the past.

PAGE 34. Nightcrawler and Mystique embrace.

PAGE 35. Trailers. Since this is a one-shot, we’re directed to Uncanny Spider-Man #5. The Krakoan reads BLUE BLOOD – even though the equivalent page in Uncanny Spider-Man #4, pointing to the same issue, read FADE TO BLUE.

Bring on the comments

  1. Joe I says:

    On the other hand, whether or not they “deserved” it, from a pure harm reduction standpoint, the Krakoan amnesty did more to stop pretty much every mutant supervillain from Apocalypse on down from going on rampages than anything else any X-Team ever tried. Selene and Sinister are extremely notable outliers here.

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Blob got a regular job (well, as regular as an unpaid job in a socialist utopia gets), Juggernaut* and Black Tom worked for state security (arguably so did Pyro) and most of the others got into politics.

    Also SWORD had dozens of b and c-list villains. Doing their part for Krakoa, being productive members of their society. It’s just that none of them were the focus of the story.

    Apart from, weirdly, Fabian Cortez.

    *- I know, he barely counts, he’s been an X-Man twice now and that doesn’t even include the latest election.

  3. Jon says:

    “The mechanics of this which make no sense to me are (is?) doing a Fall of X mini about Nightcrawler which don’t include this part and need a separate one-shot.”

    Si Spurrier said in a recent interview on the Off Panel podcast that they decided to make this a one-shot rather than part 5 of a 6-part miniseries to make it more accessible to people down the road. I.e. in 5 years, if someone asks you for the definitive origin of Nightcrawler, you can say “read X-Men Blue: Origins” rather than “Uncanny Spider-Man #5,” which will probably draw you an extremely confused look.

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