'Fall of X' Declassified: Si Spurrier Unpacks 'Uncanny Spider-Man' #1
'Uncanny Spider-Man' writer Si Spurrier breaks down Nightcrawler's joys and heartbreaks in the 'Fall of X' era and teases what's ahead in 'X-Men Blue: Origins.'
When Nightcrawler left Krakoa to find himself, he didn't expect to end up on the run. During his time away from the mutant nation-state, the anti-mutant organization Orchis executed a devastating attack at the Hellfire Gala, which left most of mutantkind missing or dead. Now, mutants aren't welcome anywhere, even in New York City—which is exactly where Kurt Wagner finds himself at the start of UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN (2023) #1.
In UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN, Nightcrawler has found a new mission: saving people, one at a time. To do so, he borrowed an extra suit from Spider-Man to hide his disguise his mutant identity and launched his new career as a Spider-themed hero. However, he can't run from the truth forever, and what he discovers on this journey may just change everything he thought he knew about himself…
Speaking to Marvel.com, UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN writer Si Spurrier reflected on his time writing Nightcrawler, from the very start of the Krakoan Age through to the FALL OF X. He broke down Kurt's use of heroing as "self-spun therapy" and Vulture's true motivations for working with Orchis. He also teased Mystique's role in the UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN drama, the true nature of Kurt's new Bamf, all the romance headed Nightcrawler's way, and so much more.
MARVEL.COM: You've worked with Nightcrawler since the very beginning of the Krakoan Age. How does UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN continue the story you've been telling? What separates the Nightcrawler of the FALL OF X era from the mutant who once resided on the Quiet Council?
SI SPURRIER: He's been through a helluva lot, hasn't he? I mean, they all have.
On the one hand, it should feel like an organic and key chapter of Nightcrawler's ongoing story, for readers who've followed his journey through all the twists of the Krakoan era: his innate humanity, his oscillating faith, his evolving notions of statehood and morality. (To paraphrase him, "It's important, when trying to build a People, that one does not forget how to be a person.")
All of that is very much in the DNA of UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN, up to and including his recent period as an actual goat-horned monster (long story), his newfound ability to pull a shimmering sword out of his own heart (longer story), and his self-imposed exile from Krakoa. That last one meant he wasn't present for the horrific events of the Hellfire Gala.
So: leaving Krakoa probably saved his life, but… survivor's guilt, y'know?
On the other hand, it's vital that this book be instantly accessible to new readers. Whereas the granular twists of continuity will provide some juicy Easter eggs for those who've been with us every step of the way, it's incredibly easy to drop into the new status quo without needing to understand all that stuff I flitted past above. To make all of that possible, the setup is ridiculously simple:
Mutants have been outlawed. Most of them are gone. Before it all went wrong, Nightcrawler was manipulated into committing some murders. Now he's on the run. Public Enemy Number 1, in a world which (sing along with me) hates and fears mutants.
This is the story of what happens next.
Surprisingly, the answer is: he has a ton of fun.
MARVEL.COM: Nightcrawler has always been such a joyous character, but lately, he's really struggled with the heinous acts he committed while under Orchis' control. How did you balance his hope and heart with this terrible weight he's carrying?
SI SPURRIER: That's where the beating heart of this story lies, and the thing that (to me) elevates it. Mutants in general and Kurt in particular have all gone through so much recently, it's all gotten kinda heavy. How do you stay faithful to that emotional truth while still bamfing off into a rip-roaring new adventure with fun at its core?
Answer: displacement. Kurt is literally using street-level superheroing as a way to avoid having to think about the big, heavy stuff lurking in the background. This is spandex as self-spun therapy.
I don't think I've ever seen that done before, and it's such a tidy way of both having my cake and eating it. Serving all the joyous action (which I so rarely get a chance to write, being rather typecast these days for weirdo cerebral horror fare), but still using it to say something important and poignant about trauma and healing. And responsibility.
MARVEL.COM: Since his debut, Nightcrawler has never worn a mask—but now, in the FALL OF X era, a mask is an integral part of his costume. How will the public's reception to him and their pervading belief that he's not a mutant impact his outlook in UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN?
SI SPURRIER: Hiding out in the open as a non-mutant is something we have a little bit of dark fun with. In this, Kurt is aided by two contextual elements. First, New Yorkers' bluff attitude to the ever-expanding ranks and varieties of Spideys spotted on their streets. Easier for them to assume this new specimen is an occult-themed Spider-Man than to assume it's a mutant in disguise. In this assumption, they're helped along by our second element: there are literally mutant-sensing Sentinels stomping around NY. Surely, if that weird new Spidey guy was a mutie in disguise, the Sentinels would know about it. Right? Right?
The reasons they don't are a mystery we'll be solving over the course of the arc.
As for how all this affects Kurt's outlook? That's a big part of our tale, and too deliciously nuanced to spoil here. What I'll tease, for now, is that part of the crisis of responsibility and duty comes down to whether one can identify with a group without being defined by it. Can Kurt be a mutant without being just a mutant? And if so, what responsibility does he have to his species, above and beyond a responsibility to just being the best person he can be?
Big themes, but—happily—always layered beneath giant robot fights and rooftop sexytimes.
MARVEL.COM: I loved the scene where Spider-Man more or less gives Nightcrawler his blessing to use his moniker. Tell me a little about crafting Spider-Man's cameo and if we might see more of him down the line.
SI SPURRIER: Spidey's a dream to write, isn't he? All that snark, all that humanity, all that unabashed goofy goodness.
In the context of UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN, I think what matters is that like knows like. Spidey recognizes that Kurt is a good person—he doesn't have to prove that. Whatever else mutants did or didn't do to the world, Spidey trusts Nightcrawler to be a decent person. He's more than happy to help. In fact, if anything, Spidey's more keen for Nightcrawler to start facing the Big Picture stuff than Nightcrawler himself. That will cause a little tension, down the line.
MARVEL.COM: UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN also sees the return of the Bamfs! Why was it important to bring them back? What role might they play in the series moving forward?
SI SPURRIER: Just one Bamf, for now! And it may not be what it seems!
More than that, I cannot say.
MARVEL.COM: This is the first time we've seen Mystique since the Hellfire Gala, and she's not in great shape. How worried should we be for her right now? How worried should Nightcrawler be about his mother?
SI SPURRIER: I mean—very?
But perhaps moreso for the people around her. When someone as utterly formidable as Raven Darkholme is having a bad day, heads are gonna roll.
I don't think it's a secret now that this book is gently setting us up for X-MEN BLUE: ORIGINS. That's a one-shot which drops between issues #4 and #5 of UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN, which will become the defining story of Nightcrawler's birth and the secrets which swirl around it. No exaggeration: it's a book every comic reader needs to have. It's going to be big.
As with UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN itself, I've set it all up extremely carefully so that you don't have to read UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN to jump into the ORIGINS special, and vice versa. But (amongst a lot of other things) ORIGINS will solve the mystery of what happened to Mystique after the Hellfire Gala.
A lot of the dysfunction and uncertainty that we see in Mystique during UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN #1 keeps bubbling right through to a very special, surprising resolution in UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN #5.
MARVEL.COM: What made the Vulture the right villain for this story? How does he fit in the Orchis structure? Also, what are the odds we'll see other Spider-Man villains pop up?
SI SPURRIER: You should definitely expect to see other well-loved Spidey-centric villains (and heroes). Several of them show up in #2, in fact, and I was beaming like a big fanboy while writing them all.
As for Vulture—he fits the picture so perfectly. One of the major battlegrounds being won by the anti-mutant organization Orchis has been the fight for the hearts and minds of normal citizens. Orchis has created a very compelling propaganda narrative, in which mutants forced themselves into a position of power over other global cultures, but then misused their miraculous technologies and biochemical advances to betray humanity. From Vulture's perspective (being obsessed as he is by aging and mortality), mutants' real crime was simply that they didn't share their greatest advance: resurrection. Eternal life. Eternal youth.
In his bitterness, Vulture has returned to his roots—as an engineer—and is working with the resources brought to him by his new Orchis boss Nimrod to find other, more dramatic ways to dodge the grim reaper. The quid pro quo for this selfish agenda is that he provide Orchis with the horrific fruits of his experiments. With captive mutants as test subjects…
MARVEL.COM: At the very end of the issue, Silver Sable swoops in to detain Nightcrawler. How might she complicate his new mission to save people, one at a time?
SI SPURRIER: In short?
MARVEL.COM: What did Lee Garbett bring to this book that shocked, surprised, or delighted you?
SI SPURRIER: Lee and I first worked together something like 12 years ago. I think I'm right in saying it was his first published work. It was a really lovely collaboration, and we've been firm friends ever since. But by the cruel twists of fate, it's taken us this long to find a way to mesh schedules so we can finally work together again.
As Lee told me when I first asked him if he'd be up for it, grinning ear to ear, his favorite hero is Spidey and his favorite mutant is Nightcrawler. Put 'em together and what do you get?
Pure, perfect, superheroic gloriousness. That's what.
He's brought boundless enthusiasm, exquisite draftsmanship, and peerless facial acting from his characters. Some of the acrobatic sequences are particularly breathtaking.
P.S.: Lee draws some of the best bottoms in all of comics, in my opinion, and I'm counting the ones with pointy tails above them as much as any others.
MARVEL.COM: What are you most excited for readers to see from the rest of UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN and, perhaps, X-MEN BLUE: ORIGINS?
SI SPURRIER: There's a line in #2—"X-Press train comin' throooouuuugh—!"—which is one of the best full page splashes you'll see in a comic this decade.
Kurt being flirtatious is a charm—lots of that coming. There's a truly ridiculous bit of pop music romance coming in #3, and foul despicable treachery coming in #4…
But yes, X-MEN BLUE: ORIGINS is… a lot. It's big, it's utterly beautiful, and I wish, wish, wish I could say more about it. But it will blow a lot of minds.
Swing into Nightcrawler's new adventure with UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN #1, on sale now!
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