Kurt Wagner shifts from Nightcrawler to Webcrawler in Uncanny Spider-Man #1, and the fate of mutantkind might be on his shoulders.
As one of the few known mutants who weren’t at this year’s disastrous Hellfire Gala, Kurt Wagner —AKA Nightcrawler— is in a unique position. Does he retreat to the shadows and let the circumstances happen as they may, or does he continue to fight from the shadows? He obviously chooses the latter. But Kurt isn’t a lowkey kind of guy; he’s gonna do things his (often theatrical) way. So how does he choose to fight Orchis now? By becoming a new Spider-Man, obviously! You could even call him the “Uncanny Spider-Man” if you want. (Great choice adjective for a character who’s exhausted every possible other option by this point.)
Kurt’s decision to become (a) Spider-Man comes somewhat out of nowhere, but if Spider-People are defined by loss and personal guilt, then that actually makes him a prime candidate to take up the cowl. He’s one of the Marvel Universe’s most prominent Catholics, for starters —it’s basically him and Daredevil— so there’s the”guilt” angle nailed down. He’s also one of the more notable quip-fighters the universe has to offer, and that’s another crucial aspect of becoming a Spider-Person. So why not have him become Spider-Man for a spell? Decades-spanning characters like Nightcrawler can’t stay static for too long; experimentation like this can be a fun way to keep them fresh and on the top of reader attention.
As for Uncanny Spider-Man #1 itself, writer Si Spurrier does a commendable job of integrating Kurt to the wider Spider-Verse while also continuing his ongoing Nightcrawler/Krakoa narrative that started in Way of X. This comic is very much of a larger piece he began in that series, but still new reader friendly enough for people to jump aboard with. Even if you haven’t been following the Krakoa saga, “Nightcrawler cosplaying as Spider-Man” is a solid hook, and you’re given all the necessary context. With a few classic members of Spidey’s rogues gallery popping up in antagonistic roles, as well as re-establishing his relationship with Peter Parker amid his new life changes, it very much feels like a Spider-Man comic and may even win over some Spidey fans who aren’t following the X-Books. Lee Garbett’s art helps further the “Spidey” feel of the series, delivering art that wouldn’t be out of place on any currently existing Spider-Man title, but with the obvious Nightcrawler twist atop it.