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Nightcrawler Reading Order, Your Kurt Wagner Comic Book Guide!

In another Earth, Nightcrawler is part of the DC Universe, as creator Dave Cockrum first submitted the character to the competitor of Marvel. But in our reality, DC rejected him, and Cockrum used him when he started working in the X-Men in 1975. Nightcrawler then became German as editor Roy Thomas wanted the new X-Men to be an international team.

The character made his debut in the now classic Giant-Size X-Men #1, an issue written by Len Wein and penciled by Dave Cockrum. The first X-Men story in five years, it also serves as a bridge between the original X-Men and the New Team, introducing several new X-Men such as Wolverine (who already made his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181), Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, and as already said, Nightcrawler.

Nicknamed ‘Elf’ by Wolvie, Nightcrawler would go on to become one of the most well-liked and respected members of the X-Men. Born Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler is a former circus acrobat and skilled swordsman fan of Errol Flynn! His physical mutation made it impossible for him to go unnoticed in a crowd, with his dark blue fur, two-toed feet and three-fingered hands, yellow eyes, pointed ears, long sharp canines, and a prehensile tail. His demonic look contrasts with his Catholic faith. He also possesses superhuman strength, the capacity to teleport and to wall climb.

Since his introduction almost 50 years ago, Nightcrawler has lived many adventures with the X-Men but also as a founding member of Excalibur, in solo, and more recently as Spinnenmann. Following is a reading order to help you learn more about the character, or rediscover his rich history!

Where to start with Kurt Wagner? Nightcrawler Comics, a Simple Reading List

Nightcrawler in Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men

Created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, Nightcrawler made his first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1 1975, the issue that introduced several new X-Men before the classic Claremont’s run on the X-Men.

Nightcrawler is a big part of this run from the start to the Mutant Massacre storyline (#210-213). Though he is not the focus – it’s a team book! – this is worth the read, for Kurt or any other member of the X-Men of this era! For more details (and more options in collections), go see our Chris Claremont X-Men Reading Order!

  • Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 1
    Collects Giant-Size X-Men #1; Uncanny X-Men #94–131, Annual #3
  • Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 2
    Collects Uncanny X-Men #132–153Annual #4–5; Avengers Annual #10; Marvel Fanfare #1–4; Marvel Treasury Edition #26–27; Marvel Team-Up #100; material from Bizarre Adventures #27; Phoenix: The Untold Story (one-shot)
  • Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 3
    Collects Uncanny X-Men #154-175, Annual #6-7; Marvel Graphic Novel No. 5 – X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills; Wolverine (1982) #1-4; X-Men Special Edition #1; Magik #1-4.
  • Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 4
    Collects Uncanny X-Men (1981) #176-193, Uncanny X-Men Annual (1970) #8, Kitty Pryde And Wolverine (1984) #1-6, X-Men And Alpha Flight (1985) #1-2, Material From Marvel Fanfare (1982) #40.
  • Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 5
    Collects Uncanny X-Men (1981) #194-209, X-Men Annual (1970) #9-10, New Mutants Special Edition (1985) #1, New Mutants Annual (1984) #2, Nightcrawler (1985) #1-4, Longshot (1985) #1-6 And Material From Marvel Fanfare (1982) #33. This omnibus contains Kurt Wagner’s first solo series, written and drawn by Cockrum.
  • X-Men: Mutant Massacre Omnibus
    Collects Uncanny X-Men #210–219, Annual #11; New Mutants #46; X-Factor #9-17, Annual #2; Thor #373–374, 377-378; Power Pack #27; Daredevil #238; Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4; X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4

Nightcrawler as a member of Excalibur

Following Mutant Massacre, Nightcrawler (with Kitty Pryde) joins the Excalibur team, created by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer Alan Davis.

  • Excalibur Omnibus vol. 1
    Collects Excalibur Special Edition #1, Excalibur #1-34, Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem #1, Quasar #11, Thor #427-429, Material From Marvel Comics Presents #31-38. This omnibus collects Chris Claremont’s run on the title.
  • Excalibur Omnibus Vol. 2
    Collects Excalibur #35-67, Excalibur: Weird War III #1, Excalibur: The Possession (1991) #1, Excalibur: Air Apparent #1, Excalibur: XX Crossing #1, Sensational She-Hulk #26; material from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #75, 110. This Omnibus collects Alan Davis’ run on the title.
  • Excalibur lasted 125 issues, with Nightcrawler as part of the team until the end. You can choose to read the whole series, though this is a more optional reading as this is not quality-wise of the level of Claremont and Davis’ run. See our Excalibur Reading Guide for more information.

Also, Nightcrawler learns that Mystique is his mother in X-Men Unlimited #4 (1994), collected in X-Men: Legionquest.

Nightcrawler back to the X-Men (the 2000s)

We enter the Modern era for the X-Men, a period in which Morrison redefined the X-Men and Peter Milligan deconstructed them. But Kurt wasn’t part of any of those titles. After the conclusion of Excalibur, Nightcrawler rejoins the X-Men, entered his priesthood phase, had his worst story ever, and more. Here are a few more details from this era:

  • Nightcrawler rejoins the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #360/X-Men (Vol. 2) #80, collected in X-Men: The Hunt for Professor X
  • Nightcrawler’s priesthood days took place during this period. You can explore this part by reading:
    • X-Men #100 (2000) is the first time we meet Nightcrawler as a priest.
    • Nightcrawler Vol. 2 (2002), from Chris Kipiniak and Matt Smith, explore in more depth Kurt’s time as a priest.
    • The subject is still present during X-Men: X-Corps (#394-409), collecting Joe Casey’s short run
    • He gave up the priesthood in Uncanny X-Men #419 (2003)
  • Following is Chuck Austen’s run (#410-443) containing “The Draco” storyline (#428-434) where Kurt learns more about his origin. This story is also considered one of the worst X-Men stories ever written. if you want to read it, it is collected in Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4: The Draco.
  • In Exiles #28-30, collected in X-Men: Trial of the Juggernaut, Nightcrawler meets his alternate-reality daughter, Nocturne.
  • In Wolverine (2003) #6, collected in Wolverine By Greg Rucka: Ultimate Collection, Wolverine heads to New York to meet Nightcrawler.
  • Chris Claremont came back to the X-Men (#444-474), and Kurt is part of the team. Most importantly, he headlined his third series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and collected in:
  • X-Men: Messiah Complex (part of Ed Brubaker’s run on the X-Men)
  • X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler, collected in X-Men: Manifest Destiny

Death and Life of Nightcrawler in the 2010s

We can start this new decade by revisiting Nightcrawler’s origins with X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler #1, written by Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin. Then we dive into a new period for the X-Men and Nightcrawler with the creation of Utopia, the death and resurrection of our German X-Man who stars in Amazing X-Men, and headline a new series written by Chris Claremont.

You can also find Nightcrawler in other books in the second half of the decades, such as Extraordinary X-Men, X-Men: Gold, and X-Men: Red — more or less optional reading.

Nightcrawler in the Krakoa era (2020-present)

The X-Men entered a new era under the supervision of Jonathan Hickman. The mutant nation has settled in Krakoa and Nightcrawler is part of the country’s government in the Quiet Council of Krakoa. Most of Kurt’s adventures since then have been written by Simon Spurrier, from Way to the X to his more recent rebranding as Spinnenmann!

In the last news, Kurt has rejoined the X-Men!

X-Men Reading Order

More Solo X-Men Reading Guide

Don’t hesitate to visit our Marvel Reading Orders page for more reading guides set in the Marvel Universe!

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