To prepare for the release, Marvel put up an article detailing the odds of who is likely to become the next Sorcerer Supreme. However, one of my favorite characters did not even make the cut for the odds: Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler. "Why him?" you say? The answer to that question is after the jump.
The Possible Candidates
Despite some varied characterizations by certain writers, he is not considered a complete and ruthless villain like others on the list, such as Baron Mordo and Dormammu, that would outright betray or conquer humanity at the drop of a hat. It would also certainly create some additional conflict between him and long time adversaries Reed Richards and Tony Stark. Doom is actually playing a big part of the Dark Reign quasi-event that Marvel has going on at the moment and choosing him to play such a big role would be a logical choice story-wise as well.
Furthermore, neither Clea nor Brother Voodoo have really played a major role recently in any story (to my knowledge), outside of Brother Voodoo's random guest appearance in New Avengers sometime last year. For them to come up to the role out of nothingness would probably not be a good choice story-wise.
The opposite is true for Ghost Rider and Magik, both who seem occupied in their particular corners of the shared universe. However, the Scarlet Witch would be an interesting choice because of how much her character has gone through and would provide some kind of redemption, while at the same time providing new conflicts as the other heroes have to trust someone that has a history of mental breakdowns to protect them against magical threats.
House of M helped establish Scarlet Witch as a magical powerhouse with probably unlimited untapped potential. She also has a long story and involvement with the Avengers. I could see this theoretically happening, but it seems, at the moment, that she is going to play a big role in the new team of Mighty Avengers by Dan Slott and we have yet to see how the rest of the Marvel Universe deals with her return.
If you are keeping count, that only leaves two choices: Druid and The Hood. Druid is an amateur with very little in terms of control, much like Sister Grimm from Runaways or Wiccan from Young Avengers, so I am a wondering why he made the list when they didn't. It probably has something to do with the fact that he is a Bendis-created character, the same writer from New Avengers. Other than that though, he is currently busy over in Secret Warriors, so I highly doubt that he is going to become the next Sorcerer Supreme.
The Hood, while not created by Brian Michael Bendis, has become one of his pet characters. Appearing almost ad-naseum in the pages of Avengers related titles in the last year has certainly helped boost his profile, but he is most definitely not Sorcerer Supreme material (being possesed by a demon is probably not good for a job like this). Of course, Bendis is notoriously known for sometimes making leaps of logic in order to provide the most interesting story, so I think The Hood actually has the highest chance of getting the job. The fact that he was put so low on the list is probably just a bit of misdirection on Marvel's part.
In my humble opinion, in this search for the next Sorcerer Supreme, Nightcrawler is...
The Right Man for the Job
Kurt is a very empathic and caring person, always looking out for his teammates and friends, to the point where he constantly puts himself in danger in order to save others. The occasions where this happens are quite a lot, so I am not going to list them all, but I believe the most recent one happened during the trip to Russia where Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Colossus faced off against Omega Red. That particular time, the group was restrained with shackles that would transmit an extremely high electrical voltage shock through the prisoner, but they managed to escape thanks one of Nightcrawler's selfless (and resourceful) acts. Even if he has a tendency to get badly hurt during these stunts, he keeps sacrificing his well being for the greater good.
Selflessness and sacrifice of that kind is probably a very important for the job of Sorcerer Supreme. When facing demons and powerful magical entities that can grant people their uttermost desire (with a cost, as always), it would be very easy to be tempted. Something like this happened recently to Captain Britain and MI13, where the team was tricked and almost defeated by Plotka, a Lord of Hell, who was granting people's wishes, only to use their energy to create an army of Nameless Ones and overtake the world. But you know this, because you all are reading Captain Britain and MI13, right? RIGHT?
Nightcrawler is also familiar in dealing with these kind of Faustian temptations. Years ago, before he first joined the X-Men (actually, this happened JUST before he joined), Kurt accidentally killed his step-brother in a struggle with him. Although he initially thought his brother had gone crazy and had killed a group of children from the village they lived in, Nightcrawler later found out that his brother had been possessed by a demon. This is a very important part in Nightcrawler's history and he probably considers it one of his great failures as a person.
During his short lived ongoing series (it only lasted twelve issues), by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Darick Robertson, we saw how the devil-like creature Mephisto had offered Nightcrawler a deal that would revive his step-brother. Kurt not only rejected the deal, but he also punched/slapped Mephisto in the face in the process saying that he would rather burn in hell himself than make a deal with him, Nightcrawler declared war on Mephisto. Spider-Man could learn a thing or two from this...
Connections to the Magical World
Ever since the early days of the X-Men and throughout his stay with Excalibur, Nightcrawler has been involved countless times with the magical word of the Marvel Universe. The first Uncanny X-Men Annual, shortly after the revival of the X-franchise by Chris Claremont and company, featured the memorable story where the rest of the team (and the reader) learns about the death of Kurt's step-brother for the first time.
The story, titled "Nightcrawler's Inferno", involves an elaborate plot by Margali Szardos (Kurt's step-mother) to punish our protagonist for his sins. To do so, she re-creates a magical simulacrum of Dante's Inferno that the X-Men and a guest-starring Dr. Strange must go through. There is also the fact that his father is some kind of demon, if we are to believe controversial writer Chuck Austen, but that storyline has been pretty much ignored ever since, much like everything else he has written for the X-Men.
The Right Tools for the Job
In that same story, we also found out that Nightcrawler's step-sister was also his lover (weird, I know), the sorceress Amanda Sefton. She was using a different identity at the time to stay close and protect Kurt.
After the demise of Illyana Rasputin, Amanda went on to become the ruler of Limbo as the second Magik. While this strained their romantic relationship, Amanda and Kurt stayed friends. Years later, she would use magic to hide the Soulsword she inherited inside Nightcrawler's body, whose soul is "unpolluted".
The Souldsword is an extremely powerful magical item that sorcerers use along the Winding Way, "the path towards magical enlightenment and empowerment". Among the sword's powers is the ability to severely harm magic users it slices and to protect the holder from and against most magical threats. It's no Eye of Agamotto, but it does sound like a useful item for a Sorcerer Supreme to have in his arsenal of mystical weapons.
A Quick Plug
Before I close this article, I wanted to say that if you enjoyed a lot of the things I mentioned in this entry (like Kurt punching Mephisto in the face), it is thanks to the aforementioned brief ongoing series Nightcrawler had. It was a wonderfully written series, moody and mysterious, and very Vertigo-ish.
If you enjoy books like Hellblazer, Sandman, or Swamp Thing, I think you will also like what this title did with a little corner of the Marvel universe. The team of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Derick Robertson delivers a consistently good , albeit short, run on a title that was probably doomed to fail commercially from the beginning.
When I first thought about writing this article, it looked as if Nightcrawler was about to quit the X-Men, which would have left him free to take up on the position. I would have been extremely happy to see him play a bigger role in the Marvel Universe and in the eyes of the readership. Even though I think (and as far as I can tell, I am the only one) that he would be a great character to become the next Sorcerer Supreme, the odds of Nightcrawler getting the job are very low. That said, who do you think is actually going to become the next Sorcerer Supreme?
Interested in reading about Nightcrawler's solo adventures? Purchase Nightcrawler Vol 1: The Devil Inside or Nightcrawler Vol 2: The Winding Way from Amazon.com and help support The Weekly Crisis!