How Nightcrawler Evolved Into the Last Avengers Leader in the Darkhold’s World – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Nightcrawler proved himself as a leader of one world’s final Avengers — and took on a surprisingly mantle in the process.
The Darkhold has been introducing twisted realities that focus on darker new versions of classic heroes — with these possible worlds showing how twisted characters like Iron Man or Spider-Man could have become if they went down a more demonic path.
This holds true in Darkhold: Blade (by Daniel Kibblesmith, Federico Sabbatini, Rico Renzi, and VC’s Clayton Cowles), which also reveals that in a world controlled by vampires, one formerly mutant hero — Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler — could reinvent himself as a new incarnation of a controversial figure.
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In this reality, Deacon Frost was able to give himself over to the Blood Demon known as La Magra. This act destroyed Frost but transformed the world thanks to the ensuing V-Wave that suddenly turned billions of humans into vampires. That act also notably reduced the variety of figures from across the world into two forms: human or vampire. Everyone else was depowered, completely eliminating the robotic heroes, driving off the godly ones, and turning mutants, Inhumans, Eternals, and countless others into regular human beings. Within two years, the world had been left decimated while a ferocious Blade committed himself to slaughter everyone and everything he could find — even turning his blade against humans with a smile.
But there’s still a chance for the world, as it turns out Amedeus Cho — who’d been turned and now served at the behest of the vampiric Kingpin — had developed a cure. Before Blade could murder him, Cho was found by the Last Avengers — Silver Sable, Prowler, and their leader, the new Citizen V. The original Citizen V had appeared in the Golden Age, as a hero dedicated to fighting against the Nazi menace. However, after his death at the hands of Heinrich Zemo, others would take up the mantle. Perhaps most famously was Helmut Zemo, who used the identity during his time impersonating a hero as a member of the original Thunderbolts. Others have taken up the mantle in the years since Zemo’s identity was revealed. But in this new vampiric world, that role falls to the former Nightcrawler.
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Like so many others, Nightcrawler lost his mutant abilities when the world changed on V-Day, only surviving the slaughter that occurred on Krakoa thanks to one last desperate teleport off the island just as he lost his abilities. In an instant, he was just as human as he may have wished to be before accepting who he was, giving his transformation a particularly bittersweet edge. Becoming the new Citizen V adds even more layers of tragic irony to the situation. As a German himself, Nightcrawler is a perfect person to take the role vacated by the villainous Zemo family line, fully redeeming it from its past crimes. His fellow heroes repeatedly tease him about his former powers, with his habit of moving quickly on all fours when he had powers lending itself well to the wall-sticking gloves provided to him by Prowler.
With few heroes left, Nightcrawler rose up to become the leader of the Last Avengers, making him one of this Marvel Universe’s most prominent heroes — at least until his duel with Blade takes a fatal turn and he’s mortally wounded by the vampire hunter. It’s a fitting role for the end of the world, as Nightcrawler — while not a traditional team leader — has proven himself in stories like Way of X to be the heart and soul of mutant-kind. While this version of Nightcrawler is ultimately unable to save the day, it still serves as proof that Nightcrawler would be an ideal X-Man to make the transition over to the Avengers — and could even become a strong leader for the team, if things became dire enough.
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Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through [email protected].

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