Amazing Spider-Friends is a twice-monthly column, written by contributor Tyler Barlass, that highlights the rich and complex relationships that Spider-Man has built with just about every character in the Marvel Universe through the years.
There aren’t a lot of Marvel heroes that are more similar to your favorite web-slinger than the blue-skinned mutant known as Nightcrawler. They’re both agile, they can both cling to walls and most importantly they both have a fun loving sense of humor. With Nightcrawler now back in the land of the living and in possession of his own title, let’s take a look at the times that Peter Parker and Kurt Wagner have gotten together to beat up bad guys.
Raised in Germany, Nightcrawler was first introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1 along with a slew of other multiethnic mutants brought in by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum to add an international flair to the team. Though it would be years after his initial introduction that his full origin would be revealed, we eventually learn that Kurt is the son of both Mystique and the demon Azazel (thus his blue skin and demon like appearance). The most popular of Nightcrawler’s mutant abilities is no doubt his ability to teleport, leaving only a puff of smoke and distinctive “bamf” sound in his wake. His love of swashbuckling fiction, his devout Catholic beliefs and his good hearted tendencies are all apart of what make Nightcrawler one of the most endearing X-Men characters of all time.
Merely a year after his initial appearance, Nightcrawler came face to face with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #161 (also written by Len Wein). An unknown serial sniper was running loose in New York at the time and had recently murdered one of Kurt’s friends from his days in the circus. This is what brought Peter and Kurt together for the first time. While enjoying a date with Mary Jane, Pete witnessed the death of one of the sniper’s targets and he quickly sprung into action only to find Nightcrawler holding the gun that was abandoned by the real sniper. With Spidey believing the strange looking mutant to be the murderer and Kurt not sure if what the tabloids say about Spider-Man to be true or not, the first meeting between these two heroes turned into an all out brawl. The unnecessary fight came to an end once the cops showed up but Spidey and Nightcrawler’s mutual pursuit of the mystery sniper quickly brought the two in contact with each other once again.
After another misunderstanding (this time by the Punisher who believed either Nightcrawler or Spider-Man to be the sniper), all vigilantes involved came together to pursue the real sniper. The true killer was eventually revealed to be a man named Jigsaw whose face was once mutilated by the Punisher. His recent sniping rampage was a ploy to draw out Frank Castle so that he could extract his revenge. After a lengthy battle that took advantage of the abilities of all three heroes, Jigsaw was apprehended and Spider-Man, Nightcrawler and the Punisher all went their separate ways.
The similarities between Spidey and Nightcrawler were even further capitalized upon when the two met for the second time within the pages of Marvel Team-Up #89. After getting caught up in a plot to assassinate Spider-Man by a twisted circus owner, Nightcrawler opted to impersonate the wall-crawler in the middle of a live circus so that he could flush out Spidey’s would be killer. This display certainly was of interest to Peter Parker who just so happened to be in the audience. After darting around the circus floor dodging projectiles being shot at him, Nightcrawler is eventually joined by the real Spider-Man who aided his ally in taking down the assassin known as Cutthroat. Undeterred by a panicked crowd and a barrage of loose circus animals, Spidey and Nightcrawler were able to capture both Cutthroat and the evil circus owner.
Despite the goodwill that had seemingly blossomed between these two after their first two team-ups, their next meeting wouldn’t be nearly as friendly. During the Secret Wars cross over from the mid-‘80s, Spider-Man and the X-Men (along with most of Marvel’s heroes and villains) were transported to a planet called Battle World. In a moment of paranoia, Spider-Man feared that the X-Men were plotting against him and so he decided to take on the entire mutant team himself. Surprisingly, Spidey managed to single handedly defeat the team of super powered mutants including Nightcrawler whom he webbed to a wall.
Things turned out much friendlier in Spidey’s subsequent encounter with both Kurt and the rest of the X-Men. In the final issue of Marvel Team-Up, Spidey was joined by a Nightcrawler led group of X-Men in his battle with Juggernaut and Black Tom. With their combined forces (and Rogue’s power to absorb special abilities) the X-Men and Spidey were able to drive the powerful Juggernaut and his pal Tom away.
Oddly enough, despite the similarities that I’ve highlighted, team-ups between Pete and Kurt became scarcer through the years. One memorable appearance that Wagner made in the life of Peter Parker was when Black Cat had been framed for murder by a teleporting mutant with powers similar to Nightcrawler. Both Spidey and Daredevil sought out information from Kurt who informed his friends that the mutant they were after had been given his powers from the Nazis. This, as far as I can tell, is the last significant time that Spider-Man and Nightcrawler have crossed paths.
More recently, during the events of X-Men: Second Coming, Nightcrawler sacrificed himself to save the life of Hope Summers who was being targeted by the android known as Bastion. Like Peter Parker, Kurt Wagner’s death would not last for long though. Nightcrawler has recently managed to return to Earth where he quickly joined back up with the X-Men. Although Kurt stayed deceased longer than Pete ever has, it still goes to show that characters as popular as Peter Parker and Kurt Wagner are impossible to keep dead.