The excitement over Nightcrawler's new beard hit a fever pitch when it graced the recently released cover of Uncanny X-Men #1, but the beard's true power may be far more mysterious.
The Marvel Comic fans out there know that the X-Men hero has already been sporting a beard for some time in the current X-Men Red series, after new political threats put the mutant heroes on the run. Shaving has apparently become a low priority for Kurt Wagner, but for a mutant whose skin is already covered in blue fur… his superhuman beard growth is actually even stranger than it seems. And may signify a bigger change than some assume.
For anyone who missed the fan conversations following Marvel's unveiling of Uncanny X-Men #1, it's hard to emphasize the kind of catch-all, unifying, world-changing event the publisher is promising. And to begin their “X-Men Disassembled” epic, the presumed roster of plot central heroes appear front and center on the #1 cover by Leinil Francis Yu and Edgar Delgado. It's a return to the classics, with Jubilee, Beast, Iceman, Cannonball, X-23, Storm, Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Bishop.
And Nightcrawler, sporting his new facial fur:
The first issue for that new series won't arrive until November, but as far back as the cover for March's X-Men Red #2, Nightcrawler was depicted in his new (throwback) superhero costume of black and red - complete with a thick, black beard. But the explanation for his new grooming didn't come until X-Men Red #4 - which is where things get interesting. Because even if Kurt's growth from clean shaven to bearded takes months in comic book publishing time, the in-universe passage of time makes his beard downright physics defying.
To explain for the fans not keeping up with Jean Grey's new team in X-Men: Red, the first sighting of Nightcrawler's face being less than velvety smooth comes in X-Men Red #4. The slight scruff lines appear when the mutants take refuge in Wakanda, before realizing a more secure sanctuary will be needed - one like Atlantis, home of Namor the Submariner. The time elapsing isn't explicitly stated but Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, and their other teammates are responding as quickly as possible.
So how much does Nightcrawler's beard grow in the time it takes to fly to Wakanda, then Atlantis? See for yourselves in our own time lapse:
You have to hand it to Kurt Wagner: after sprouting only stubble between breakfast and his flight to Wakanda on the back of a Sentinel, he put his follicles into action. The small window of time is confirmed when Jean's team visits a mutant-killer within days of his attack back in Issue #3. But even if it weren't, the decision to give Nightcrawler a beard clearly supersedes logic for both writer Tom Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar. In the closing scene of X-Men Red #4, Kurt's scruff shifts to a full blown beard... by Issue #5, it's as well-groomed and thick as his Uncanny cover cameo.
So what are fans left to take from this new elaboration on Nightcrawler's mutant abilities? Since his body is covered in short indigo fur, is the implication that Kurt has been days, if not hours way from a full (darker) beard all this time? Or is the onslaught of the beard a sign of some physiological change taking place within Kurt's body? Recent issues have portrayed him as a younger man, so it's possible that the beard - and far more muscled figure - added ahead of Uncanny #1 are intended to age him up closer to the other central heroes.
Whether the revelation of Kurt Wagner's superhuman beard growth is a sign of him taking more authority within the X-Men family, purely to toughen him up, fans will almost certainly approve.
Uncanny X-Men #1 will be released on November 14th, 2018 from Marvel Comics.