In X-Men Blue: Origins #1 from Marvel Comics, nearly everything you knew about Nightcrawler and Mystique turns out to be wrong.
We reviewed the book on the Stack podcast. But in the interest of highlighting more about the title, here’s a summary of the conversation with our thoughts. And if you prefer the longer audio version, that’s below as well!
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X-Men Blue: Origins #1 Review:
Written by Si Spurrier, with art by Wilton Santos and Marcus To, the conversation promised in Uncanny Spider-Man #4 finally happens. And spoilers here, Mystique reveals she’s not Nightcrawler’s mother, she’s his father. And Destiny is his mother. Oops!
Host Alex Zalben called this issue “an essential chapter” of the Uncanny Spider-Man book, and “phenomenal as usual.” In particular, Zalben enjoyed the conceit of the strange, Bamf creature who has been following Nightcrawler around laying out the complex story in the simplest way possible. “It’s definitely a richer read if you’ve read Uncanny Spider-Man,” Zalben said. “But if you’re just a fan of Nightcrawler, you’re a fan of Mystique, this is a stunning issue that completely redefines the stories of both of those characters and how they’re intertwined.”
Justin Tyler agreed, calling it “such a great read,” and the retcon involving Mystique and Destiny he thought was well handled.
Taking things a step further, Zalben called this an “important comic” that “really drives home very deeply the idea of gender being a construct… It’s speaking to non-binary readers, it’s speaking to readers of other sexualities.” Zalben also called out how comics have grown from reveals decades earlier that were bluntly done. “Decades later, having a really nuanced conversation about how sexuality and gender works… I was bowled over by that.”
Tyler qualified that the book is “not at all preachy, it’s the heart of the story and a perfect extension of the story… Outside of the gender construct stuff, beautifully done and complicated in a way we don’t see in a lot of comic book relationships.”
While Pete LePage agreed that having characters in comic books analyzing gender was laudable, but the main conversation between Nightcrawler and Mystique didn’t work for him… Mainly because of how Mystique was treating her son. LePage explained that given changing your genes is a pretty complicated concept, there could have been more understanding from her direction on how she was responding to Nightcrawler’s confused questions.
Reacting to that, Zalben said he understood where LePage was coming from, but “it gets into that complex relationship… These characters aren’t faultless, [they’re all] fumbling around in the darkness.”
Finishing up, Tyler called the plotline “Shakespearean,” and Zalben called out the “emotional catharsis” of Nightcrawler and Mystique holding each other by the end as “very satisfying… a complicated issue that took a lot of chances.”
X-Men Blue: Origins #1 Official Synopsis:
THE DEFINITIVE NIGHTCRAWLER ORIGIN STORY! This is the one you can’t miss, True Believer! You think you know how the beloved blue devil came into this troubled world? You think you know the tale of his mendacious mamma Mystique? You don’t! Mother and son reunite in a mold-shattering tale that exposes secrets held for decades and redefines both characters forever. A collector’s item in the making.