In a universe brimming with unique superheroes, and a franchise full of cool looks, Nightcrawler stands out. Kurt Wagner was born looking like a monster, but he takes pride in his appearance and makes great use of his teleportation power to focus on being a Big Damn Hero.

I've always liked Nightcrawler, and was happy when my friends gifted me a print of the cover to the first issue of the 1985-1986 Nightcrawler miniseries, written and drawn by his co-creator Dave Cockrum. I'd heard good things about the series so I bought it on Comixology and wound up having a fun, funny ride that was a joy to be on.

 

 

The plot: Nightcrawler is busy running no-teleport exercises in the Danger Room that Kitty Pryde is programming while Illyana "Magik" Rasputin watches. He aces them all --- in the first of many scenes by Cockrum that wonderfully showcase Kurt's physicality, agility and powers --- and explains to the girls that he does these exercises because he once went on an adventure where he couldn't teleport, and only got home thanks to an interdimensional gateway called the Well at the Center of Time.

Kitty, fascinated, has Kurt describe the Well in detail to create a facsimile of it for them to see. She succeeds and they gaze at it. But then Lockheed (Kitty's pet dragon, for the unfamiliar) gets grabbed by a giant tentacle monster and Kurt jumps in after him.

 

 

That kicks off an epic journey that sees everyone's favorite blue elf and purple dragon join a pirate crew, rescue a princess, get sold into slavery to a shark sorcerer, and fight a whole bunch of monsters. It's no more, no less than that. And that's OK. The late Dave Cockrum loved Nightcrawler, and that love shines through on every page.

 

 

This series is a love letter to one of the X-Men's finest from beginning to end, and it's stellar. But it's also really funny. Although this aspect gets downplayed in other media, Kurt is a funny guy, and Cockrum delivers that in spades here. Kurt gets some great one-liners, there's a gag where Kitty tries to beam him back but brings back just his clothes, and we get an all-too-brief appearance by "Cretacious Sam."

 

Please tell me Cretacious Sam has a character page on Marvel Unlimited.

 

So if you have a few bucks to spare, wanna check out a thrilling adventure story that's like Stardust meets Looney Tunes and need to be reminded after the craziness of the Big Two this week that superheroes can just have fun adventures, pick this book up. You won't be disappointed.