Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone


Name This Marvel Villain??

You don't really need a crash course on Dr. Strange's involved conflict with the Undying Ones to get a handle on the Night-Crawler, who had the name long before Kurt Wagner unhyphenated it and took it as his own. The Night-Crawler isn't really a villain by choice--he simply inhabits a dimensional cosmos that the Undying Ones want to use as a stepping stone to reach Earth and wipe us out. The catch is that they can only make the attempt when the stars are aligned correctly, which only happens once in--well, I forget, but it's a damn long time. Long enough to make sure they pull out all the stops when those stars line up.

So each time, the Nameless One (head honcho of the Undying Ones) sends a powerful foe to destroy the Night-Crawler so that the Undying Ones can cross over to Earth. Given the fact that they're still trying here, you can assume that until now they've never been successful. (I don't know how many notches the Night-Crawler has carved on one of those floating rocks in his dimension, but it's probably a lot.) So as you can see here, this time the Undying Ones arrange for their followers on Earth to seize Bruce Banner and transport him to the Night-Crawler's dimension in order to have the Hulk engage him in battle.

And judging by this awful teaser caption, it looks like even Marvel is betting on the Night-Crawler:

It's not like the Night-Crawler is villainous in the traditional sense. But he's a deadly foe who's simply going to put you down and not do any hand-wringing about it. Even when the Undying Ones' servants on Earth transport one of their own to the battle scene so that Banner will change to the Hulk in order to protect her, the Night-Crawler makes it clear that he's not interested in any extenuating circumstances or being merciful:

But as the battle reaches its peak, the Night-Crawler employs a sonic device against the Hulk, which turns out to be a fatal miscalculation. With a clap of his hands, the Hulk deflects back the sonic impulses, which then ripple through the Night-Crawler's cosmos in waves of destruction. Seeing his home is doomed, the Night-Crawler transports all of them to the dimension of the Undying Ones--where, in a rage, he decides to take their cosmos as his own. It's a distraction that Dr. Strange, a current captive of the Nameless One, makes good use of to transport himself and the Hulk back to Earth, assured in the knowledge that the Nameless One's chance to invade Earth has once again passed:

Unknown to the reader at the time, this issue lays the groundwork for all sorts of interesting future developments involving the Nameless One, Dr. Strange, the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner--and Barbara Norris, the girl who the Hulk fought to protect from the Night-Crawler but who sacrificed herself so that Dr. Strange and the Hulk could escape (a fate which is followed up on in a Defenders story). Exploring (and untangling) all of that will make for an interesting future post--but if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not steal the Night-Crawler's limelight by doing it here. Any guy who takes on a cosmos of evil sorcerers isn't someone I want looking in my direction.


Anonymous said...

Hey! This guy was in the short-lived group known as the "Hulk-hunters," with Amphibion and uh, some robot.
Their mission, as I recall, was to hunt the Hulk, attempt to recruit him for a mission in space, and get savagely beaten up by him in the process. The mission was a success.

Comicsfan said...

Excellent recall! Yes, our friend was known as the Dark-Crawler then.

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