Marvel Comic - X-Men Unlimited - #19 Bagged Near Mint Condition
June 01, 1998
Cover Artist Jim Calafiore, Mark McKenna
Near Winzeldorf, Germany, a group of traveling circus performers is murdered by an unidentified sorcerer to increase her power. On Muir Island, Nightcrawler is performing a trapeze act wth Excalibur’s holo-program, when one of the trapeze bars dematerializes in his hands and he plummets to the ground below. He saves himself by teleporting, only to be confronted by a vision of his old circus partner Sabu. When Nightcrawler realizes the computer program is being tampered with, he assumes it is Nightmare, but the vision of Sabu denies this, and reveals himself as Belasco.
Belasco reveals he has Nightcrawler’s mother in a cage and will release her in exchange for full possession of the Winding Way. He accuses Margali Szardos of fostering murderous ways upon her daughter Amanda Sefton and accuses Amanda of murdering the circus troupe. Nightcrawler refuses to believe this, saying Margali uses the dark arts for benevolent purposes. Belasco asks if he wonders where Amanda disappeared to and says he will find her at “home.”
Nightcrawler showers, wondering if Belasco could be telling the truth, as he has had reason to question Margali’s intentions before. Once he is ready he programs a jet to take him to Winzeldorf. But Shadowcat phases into the jet, and Colossus appears soon after, wishing him not to go alone. Nightcrawler says it is a family matter and he doesn’t want to involve strangers. Offended by this, they exit the plane and Nightcrawler takes off for Germany.
Belasco watches these proceedings from Limbo, and says he will be heartbroken to see what evil Amanda has been up to. He taunts the captive Margali, saying he is now the sole custodian of the Winding Way, while she mentally vows revenge.
At the circus in Germany, Nightcrawler is overjoyed to see the hooded Amanda, but she is cold toward him. She reveals the corpses of the other performers, and says that to defeat Belasco, they must become more powerful, and family blood must be spilled. Nightcrawler agrees, cutting his arm and dripping blood on her mystical pentagram, and the duo are transported into Limbo, in the presence of Belasco’s citadel.
Belasco watches, while the captive Margali reveals she is actually Amanda Sefton, since Margali switched bodies with her daughter in order to deceive Belasco. The demon guarding her realizes this too, and says he will keep the secret and even liberate her if she helps him steal the Soulsword from Belasco. She agrees and the demon kisses her and teleports away.
As Nightcrawler and “Amanda Sefton” approach Belasco’s citadel, the demon S’ym rises from the Earth to fight them. He forces Margali to shed her disguise, once her secret is out she easily defeats S’ym by banishing him underground. Nightcrawler is shocked to learn of her deception but she says she did what she had to do; only by switching bodies would she have the strength to defeat Belasco. Nightcrawler nevertheless feels betrayed and disgusted by her treatment of Amanda. As he denies her forgiveness, S’ym bursts from the ground and drags her under with him; she implores Nightcrawler to finish what they came to do.
He teleports inside to face Belasco. Belasco’s demon servant gives him a sword, and frees Amanda just before getting disintegrated by Belasco. Together they battle Belasco, Amanda with her magic and Kurt with his sword, and they manage to strip him of the Soulsword. Then Margali herself appears, having bested S’ym and regained her full powers. She sends him into an abyss underground. She asks for their forgiveness before teleporting away. Belasco’s demonic servants ask Amanda if she’s their master now.
Suddenly the circus performers appear back to life, as Margali had been preserving their souls all along and only ever intended to trick Belasco. Nightcrawler and Amanda debate whether to forgive Margali for her tactics; they share a kiss, before having to part, since Amanda is now ruler of Limbo, and Kurt must return to Earth and his teammates.
After Nightcrawler and the performers fly through a portal, Belasco’s hand emerges from the ground clutching the Soulsword.
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