X-Men Vignettes, Chapter 9 (1987)
Writer – Chris Claremont
Art – John Bolton
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Colors – Glynis Oliver
Edits – Kavanagh, Nocenti, Shooter
From: Classic X-Men #9 (May, 1987)
Well, it had to happen eventually — while what we’re about to discuss isn’t a bad story (I say that a lot, don’t I?), if we were to compare it to our other Vignette offerings to this point, I personally feel like it’s a bit of a dud.
It’s Nightcrawler-centric, and it occurs right after Christmas… you’d think I’d be a total sucker for a ditty like this. Well, maybe actually writing about it will change my tune a bit? Wouldn’t be the first time!
This story is a continuation of X-Men #101 (which was the main feature in this issue of Classix), and it opens with the X-Men waiting around at the hospital waiting for news on Jean. In #101, Jean did the whole Phoenix “Rising from the ashes of Jamaica Bay” thing — so, she’s “alive”… only, she slipped into a coma pretty quick. As mentioned in the pre-ramble, Nightcrawler will be out point-of-view character this time out. He gazes out a window, and notes that the hospital hasn’t yet bothered to take their Christmas Tree down… despite the fact that it’s already the second week of January. Sounds like my house! After looking at both his reflection in the glass and dropping a full-blown Claremontian soliloquy, Kurt spots a young boy sitting on a bench by the Tree. He BAMFs down to investigate.
In the down-below, the young boy is frightened by a bird who’d made its home in the Christmas Tree, causing him to fall off the bench. This gets a belly-laugh out of our Fuzzy Elf. Kurt (using his Image Inducer, natch) greets the boy, asking what he’s doing out here so late. The kid really ain’t in any mood to talk — he makes it quite clear that he’s just here waiting, and doesn’t wanna be bothered. Kurt, again, suggests that this fella get on home before anything bad happens. The kid ain’t movin’… which leaves our hero with a bit of a dilemma — does he BAMF out and not worry about him, or… does he stick by this boy’s side, just in case.
Before Nightcrawler can decide, they are both approached by a security guard who informs them that they’re both trespassing. In fact, he wonders how either of them managed to get into the courtyard at all, considering the gates have been locked all night. Well, we know how Kurt got in… but, what about the boy? I guess this rent-a-cop’s never heard of kids climbing fences, eh?
Anyway, the guard tells them to skadoo before he calls the actual police. Before we move on though, I just wantcha to deposit the fact that the guard addressed Nightcrawler and the boy into your memory banks. Okay, with that said — Kurt and the lad head into the hospital cafeteria for a bite. Our man introduces himself, and shares that he has a very dear friend in intensive care at present. Hmm. Ya know, I don’t wanna be “that guy”, but, have Kurt and Jean even had a conversation at this point? I mean, she left the school shortly after the Krakoa ordeal. I dunno, I can’t speak for Kurt’s heart, maybe they are “dear friends” — it
probably definitely doesn’t matter. Kurt says that his “dear friend” is lucky because she gets to be asleep while everybody else worries. I “get” that, but — still kind of a dick thing to say, no? Oh well, the boy returns the favor, introducing himself as Daniel Cameron… and kinda calls Kurt out on his stupid line when he alludes to the fact that he is a cancer survivor… or, rather just that he had cancer.
With the noshin’ done, Kurt informs Daniel that he’ll be escorting him home. Daniel doesn’t care one way or another. When their hunt for a cab proves futile, they decide to hoof it. Kurt attempts to reach the boy over and over — which is about as futile as, well, finding a cab at 2am. Finally, our man takes a page out of his circus days, and walks on his hands for a bit. This actually manages to break through and get Danny’s attention.
The boy begins to get a bit cocky at this point… proclaiming that he’s bored of the city scenery, he runs into Central Park. Central Park… in the middle of the night… back in the 70s/80s? Yeah, not a great idea, kid! Daniel gives our man a “Catch me if you can”, and is rendered quite shocked when Kurt BAMFs in ahead of him. He doesn’t actually SEE the BAMFing, just that his new adult pal has beaten him into the Park.
From here, we get, what feels like a dozen pages of Kurt teaching Daniel how to juggle. Like for real, this scene — while actually quite brief — feels like it lasts forever and a day. Before the Sun comes up, our man is able to get the boy to successfully bobble the balls. Minds out of the gutter, please.
The night out wraps up back at Daniel’s stoop. Here, Kurt feels as though he ought to share his true self with the boy. Again, minds out of the gutter. He shuts down the Image Inducer, revealing his Fuzzy Elf form. As we found out a few chapters back, people don’t seem to mind it when a smiling demon is standing in front of them — better a demon than a steel-skinned Russian, anyway — so, Daniel accepts Kurt’s true form. They embrace promising to see each other back at the hospital the following day.
Which takes us to the hospital… and the following day. Kurt finds a nurse to inquire as to where he might find Daniel Cameron. To which, we get our Twilight Zone twist — the nurse points to the blanket-covered corpse she’s wheeling out of a room, and informs our hero that this is Daniel Cameron… and he died the night before! Kurt can’t believe it — and tries to wrap his mind around exactly what it was that he x-perienced the night before. We wrap up with Nightcrawler back outside by the Christmas Tree, where he juggles-in-Claremontian for his ethereal pal.
So yeah, like I said above — this isn’t a bad story, and it’s actually quite touching. That said, and like I said above (again), it kinda felt like a dud to me. Sure, there’s plenty to like — I mean, it’s more X-Men after all… from a time before the entire line was bloated and overexposed to the point of parody — so, there’s that. The art, as we’ve become accustom, is gorgeous. There’s a Christmas feeling in the air, which I’m always a sucker for — but, still — I’m kinda just sittin’ here with a furrowed brow and an embarrassingly constipated look on my mug.
Nightcrawler helping a ghost boy to pass on to the other side — which that same ghost boy helps him cope with the plight of his comatose “dear friend”, Jean… is an okay story to tell. Perhaps it’s only in comparing it with the other Vignettes we’ve looked at that it comes across as being somewhat “less than”? I mean, not every story we’ve covered (or will cover) is going to be “essential”, but — even then, this one just fell flat. At least for me.
Now, what’s my sticking point here? I’m honestly not sure. Is it the “we all saw it coming from a mile away” Twilight Zone twist? Is it how that the rent-a-cop actually seemed to see the ghost boy? Is it the fact that this story could’ve basically been told using any character in the Marvel Universe as our P.O.V. (minus the juggling, of course)? I dunno. All’s I do know is — it was a bit of chore to both read and write about.
Part of me wonders/hopes that it’ll eventually be revealed that Daniel Cameron would eventually manifest mutant powers — and now, as part of the (current-year) Scarlet Witch’s Resurrection Protocol “waiting room”, maybe he’ll be brought back (a la Northstar’s adopted daughter)! If so, y’all better get this ish slabbed with the quickness~! Maybe this little ditty’ll be reprinted as a back up in an upcoming issue of Legion of X? If so, ya hoid it here first!
Boy was that a stupid and unnecessary paragraph. Apologies — this is just what happens when I’m vamping for word count and have very little to say about a given topic! This is probably a sign that I should just wrap it up… so, I will!
Next time out: Wolverine and Sabretooth play a deadly game of tag. Be there!