When I found out that the Incredible Nightcrawler would guest star in this issue of Spider-Man/ Deadpool, I was absolutely over the moon. That would mean there is a comic with my top three superheroes of all time sharing roughly equal page time in a comic that isn’t packed with characters. A dream come true, to be sure. However, shame on Marvel for pulling a fast one on me as far as solicitations go. You see, there was an issue rearranging the order of comics, so the summary and cover for issue #13 was used for both the January and February solicits. In short, I had no idea that they were making this bamfy mouthy thwipy masterpiece until after the preorder stage was over. Luckily, I was able to add on this issue to my pull list and I am extremely happy I did.
I have been reading this title since the first issue last January and have been pleased with what I’ve read. Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness do Spidey and Deadpool justice on all counts (I’ll get into that more in depth later) so I was confident that I wouldn’t be disappointed. Now, if you haven’t been following the series, someone called Patient Zero has created a genetically engineered hybrid of Spider-Man and Deadpool called Itsy Bitsy. She is blue and has six arms and shares many power/personality traits with the two heroes who she calls her daddies. Worst part is that she is killing anyone she deems fit in their name and there is nothing the duo can do to stop her. Also, earlier in the series, Spider-Man came back from death with his moral compass in disrepair and Deadpool has been cured of his scarring, turning him into a handsome poster boy (which I hate). This all seems to happen with little to no attachment to the main Marvel Universe, allowing Joe Kelly free reign in the writing process. Very smart move.
Enter Kurt Wagner. BAMF!
In a desperate attempt to gain advantage over Itsy Bitsy, Wade recruits the best member of the X-Men (fight me) to help train in swordplay, a move Itsy wouldn’t expect from Spidey. The comic begins as a confessional from Spider-Man to Nightcrawler, who is a priest when not saving the world or swashbuckling. He discusses his struggles with doing the right thing as the previous hour’s events unfold on the page. There were many satisfying moments for me, both in the plot and artistically, concerning the interactions between Nightcrawler and the two title heroes, who are at serious odds with one another. There’s sparring with banter as well as serious, angry fighting and Nightcrawler is stuck in the middle! Deadpool loses his head for a bit, visiting his wife in the afterlife and discovering who is Patient Zero. Spoiler Alert: it is someone Deadpool fans with recognize. By the time Wade recovers, Spider-Man is long gone with a singular mindset: kill Itsy Bitsy.
So, there are several things I think are worth discussing. First of all, bravo to whoever decided to bring Nightcrawler into the fold, even if it’s just for one issue. Ed McGuinness has done the character a few times, with the X-Termination event of 2013 (AoA Kurt) and the first arc of Amazing X-Men which I count among my most valuable comics. I’m still waiting to get those signed by him, so hopefully he attends C2E2 like last year. Joe Kelly blends Nightcrawler’s fun-loving side with his reputation as heart and soul of the X-Men quite well by having him offer advice to Peter about his darker nature. Overall, the creative team couldn’t have been better. That being said though, this comic has a convention variant by the immensely talented Todd Nauck, who has professional experience drawing Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Nightcrawler on his solo title in 2015. While I was very excited about this great cover full of Deadpool cosplayers, part of me was extremely disappointed that he didn’t also have Nightcrawler on the cover. To be fair though, with the issue mix-up I mentioned in the beginning, I doubt he would have known the unique situation beforehand. Oh well, maybe I will see what that might look like when I get to the top of his studio commission list. (Also, check out his Where’s Hydra variant of Secret Empire #1; it’s very very cool)
The other big delight of this issue is the incorporation of bamfs. Popularized in Jason Aaron’s run of Wolverine and the X-Men and given a suitable origin in Amazing X-Men, these miniature chibi versions of Nightcrawler (also portrayed as smurf-y or impish) have powerful teleporting abilities and a mischievous demeanor. They assist Nightcrawler in this issue is his various activities and I was so happy to have McGuinness draw them again. Their “dialogue” is written as a telepathic link between Kurt and the other bamfs, which provides comic relief shared between the characters involved. Wonderful little sidekicks/nuisances, they definitely add dimension to the story.
Now, you know I’m super biased when it comes to this comic. I mean, my Twitter handle is @BamfingBob for heaven’s sake. But you put these three characters together in one comic and I have no choice but to give it five out of five BAMFs!
(W) Joe Kelly (A/CA) Ed McGuinness