New Mutants #18-20
Issue(s): New Mutants #18, New Mutants #19, New Mutants #20
Yeah! That blow your mind? Plenty more where that came from.
This arc has Dani getting mauled by the Demon Bear that she's expressed fear of in past issues.
While she's in surgery, which occurs during a blizzard, during a period where Professor Xavier is in Massachusetts (it's not said why, but i suspect he's laying a little mental whoop-ass on the White Queen for kidnapping his students in the previous arc) and the rest of the X-men are also not around, the rest of the New Mutants fight off the Demon Bear.
The resolution to the Demon Bear fight is a little disappointing. Earlier we learned that the Bear's greatest fear was Dani. But after Wolfsbane makes a risky mind-meld with Dani, she says:
Dani's was the knowledge, ours th' power! The Mutants -- actin' as a team! It must be cut to its heart and soul!
So basically, it's Magik - who can cut the bear with her Soulsword - that the Bear should really have been fearing. But somehow Dani was uniquely positioned to know that Magik's sword would do the trick, even though i don't think she's really that familiar with Magik's abilities at this point.
In many ways, this arc is more about Magik than Dani. Illyana is dealing with the fact that the other Mutants (especially Wolfsbane) don't trust her magical abilities. And she's learning about her powers. Instead of getting injured by the bear, whenever she is hit, she manifests armored skin.
And she's the most level headed in battle...
...and of course lands the killing blow against the Bear.
This arc introduces a police office, Officer Corsi, and a Nurse Friedlander who get possessed by the Demon Bear and used as henchmen in the attack against the New Mutants.
At the end of the battle (thanks again to Magik's Soulsword), they are restored to their human form, but they are now permanently Native Americans (or "Red Indians" as Wolfsbane puts it). And Dani's parents William and Peg Lonestar, who were prisoners of the bear, are now alive and free.
Lonestar is vague about the origins of the Bear, and Xavier thinks to himself that he'd better call in Dr. Strange for help.
There's really never any follow-up on that. As Michael mentions in the comments, the lettercol in issue #24 says the following:
The "evil" responsible for the ensorcellment of Dani's folks knew precisely what it was doing... both in attacking them and the methods it used. Indeed, it recently made its first "appearance" in the pages of X-Men #188 - much to the regret of the aged Cheyenne shaman, Naze. Something very significant, and very nasty, is in the works - with ramifications that'll affect both New Mutants and X-Men.
In reality, after Uncanny X-Men #188, there's no further development of the Adversary plot until Fall of the Mutants. I've added the Adversary to the Characters Appearing section; he at least deserves a Behind The Scenes appearance here.
Meanwhile, Dani survives her surgery but the doctors think that she'll be permanently crippled. However, Storm brings in the Morlock Healer and it's now expected that she'll make a full recovery.
Issue #18 is the first appearance of Rachel Summers in our timeline. She shows up at the X-Mansion but runs away when she hears that Xavier isn't there and realizes that Illyana Rasputin is a teenager, which is the first hint that she's in the wrong time-stream.
Issue #18 also introduces Warlock.
More crazy Bill Sienkiewicz art! And notice that he's using the proper pronoun "I" and not "Self" at this point. He's being pursued by his father (not yet named the Magus), who apparently rips a star in half and throws it at his son.
Later, the Starjammers notice Warlock being chased by his father and racing towards Earth, too fast for the Starjammers to pursue or even send a message in time.
Warlock doesn't actually land on Earth this arc.
I don't know what people thought of this when it first came out.
Sienkiewicz had done Moon Knight prior to this, and it was well received, but he was basically doing a Neal Adams thing. And he's been doing covers (ROM, Dazzler, the Hulk, etc) and those covers have definitely shown hints of this style. But i'm pretty sure this is the first we've seen it in an ongoing series. And it's pretty clearly awesome.
It's worth noting that Sienkiewicz can still draw regular realistic people when he wants to, as well (although i think Dani looks maybe a little too "indian" in that picture).
The art change was announced in full page ads with a team portrait by Sienkiewicz and the tagline, "Don't call 'em X-Babies anymore!", which was pretty cool.
We'll see in upcoming lettercols what fans thought of it. But i can't imagine the reaction from regular newsstand readers.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We need to push all of the X-Men and New Mutants books back in publishing time to get Warlock's arrival on Earth prior to Marvel Team-Up annual #7 due to some Spider-Man dependencies. Dani Moonstar is injured during this story and will appear in a wheelchair in issues #21 and #22. She's recovered by #23. So any appearances of her not in a wheelchair should take place prior to this arc or after #22.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (13): show
I'll tell you what my reaction was: utter shock. Going from Sal Buscema to this was like going from Cathy Guisewite to Brian Bolland. It took a few issues for me to actually get used to the fact that this was permanent(for a while, anyway) and not some bizarre fill-in. It was even more hard to take because Sienkiewicz's art changed over those 3 issues--from the Adams-ish look in #18 to the start of the wedge-shaped head look in #20.(I hated that particular stylizing, but I learned to tolerate it as everything else was attention-grabbing). Bill's art set a standard for a while, even to the point of Steve Leialoha(who did 3 issues following Bill's run) altering his style to approximate Bill's.
Alfred Hitchcock shows up as a hospital employee in #19. That issue also has the first appearance of Wolfsbane's more powerful transitional form.
"Red Indians" was the common term for Native Americans in the U.K.--probably to distinguish them from Indians of India.
I don't think anyone ever explained what the hell the Demon Bear was,anyway.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 8, 2011 11:56 PM
In New Mutants 24, the letters page explained that the Adversary was responsible. It's not clear why he would go after Dani, since there's no indication that she's a threat to him or even aware of his existence.
Posted by: Michael | October 9, 2011 12:05 AM
That was a unique problem with the New Mutants letters page: information like that wasn't provided in the actual art & story at all.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 9, 2011 12:12 AM
Claremont was setting up a Native American mythology overplot in Dr. Strange a few years before this, with the introduction of Sara Wolfe and the Eye-Killers. He left Doc's book before doing more with the concept but revisited some of the ideas here and with Forge in X-Men.
At one point the Fall of the Mutants archenemy was going to be James Jaspers (and a merged Nimrod/Fury), hence the presence of Roma in those X-issues. But I wonder if Claremont hadn't originally planned on using the Adversary in something like that role anyway, before he decided to use Alan Moore's characters. Clearly these New Mutants issues and the X-Men issues where Naze gets possessed are setting up the Adversary as a very big threat, bigger than the Demon Bear or Dire Wraiths.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 14, 2012 12:30 AM
Also, I don't know whether it was guilt over killing off Thunderbird or what, but Claremont introduced a lot of Native American characters in the early '80s: Sara Wolfe in Dr. Strange, Dani and Thunderbird II in New Mutants, Forge in X-Men.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 14, 2012 12:33 AM
Does anyone think that the Native American bodies Sharon Friedlander and Tom Corsi were transferred into younger versions of Danielle Moonstar's parents and would play an integral part in the defeat of the Adversary had Claremont managed to still have control of the New Mutants title?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 23, 2013 2:32 AM
Tom Orzechowski stated that Claremont intentionally wrote smaller captions so as not to cover up too much of Sienkiewicz' art, but I don't think that lasted too long.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 15, 2013 4:40 PM
@Mark: The half-wolf form was used very early on the New Mutants series, I think.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 15, 2013 8:30 PM
Wolfsbane's half-way form was shown in the original New Mutants Graphic Novel a number of times.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 19, 2013 3:41 AM
I meant the more advanced transitional form.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 19, 2013 9:34 PM
According to Bill Sienkiewicz, Claremont intended to write Dani out of the book(probably with this story) but Bill convinced him otherwise because he enjoyed drawing her.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 9, 2013 3:35 PM
Can anyone tell me a specific issue that ran the "don't call em x-babies anymore" ad? I've been picking up random issues from that time frame without luck for years now without luck.
Posted by: Kai Lubbe | December 14, 2013 11:55 PM
X-Men #183 had the ad.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 15, 2013 12:27 AM
Aside from the insaneness of Sienkiewicz's art (somehow his work allows for characters like Warlock, Strong Guy and Legion to actually work in this uni...and then other artists have to figure them out later), I do suddenly wonder if the names for Warlock and Magus were deliberately chosen with the thought that Jim Starlin was done with the most obvious characters using those names...
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 10, 2015 6:31 AM
"But i can't imagine the reaction from regular newsstand readers."
I can tell you my reaction (although it was my brother buying the book): I hated it. Simply hated it. After 30 years, I can tolerate it a lot more than I did then, but Sienkiewicz, at least on New Mutants, just really doesn't work for me at all. That's why I didn't start collecting until after he stopped doing the pencils (not that I realized that at the time - I just knew I liked the art better).
But, to be far to Sienkiewicz, after he stops, the book is without a consistent penciler for a long time (until Blevens, whose tendency of drawing all the characters looking like they're 12 made me stop buying the book altogether), which is what eventually leads to Liefeld, but that's a story for a different issue.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 17, 2015 12:22 PM
Man that art looks awesome, I'd like to think it would have sucked me in as a kid if I grew up around that time.
Posted by: david banes | May 23, 2015 2:48 AM
It sure looks like Xavier had reasons for some long conversations with Dr. Strange. If only they had a place to get together and talk about this stuff. Illyana? Dani and the Bear? Amanda Sefton and her mother who tried to kill the X-Men? Ororo and Dracula? [Ok, he was in a coma during those issues, but one assumes someone would have told him.] But darn it, Xavier's path never seemed to cross Stephen's.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 8, 2015 7:31 PM
"New Mutants" #22, Xavier thinks: "I was aware of Illyana's sword - but what is this armor? Is it part of her abilities as mutant, or sorceress?! I sense even she isn't sure - why hasn't she told me about it?! - she seems as mystified by its purpose and origin as I. Too little is known of precisely who and what she is. For her sake, that must not be allowed to continue."
Never mind taking her to Dr. Strange (or even Amanda Sefton) has he considered asking her? Or getting her brother or best friend to ask her?
Posted by: ChrisW | December 8, 2015 8:18 PM
What might Ch'od dream of with Cr'reee ever-present on his shoulder? I think we should be told.
Posted by: Oliver_C | December 9, 2015 5:43 AM
It should be noted that the Adversary was one of the Shadow King's personas, so is the one who sent the Demon Bear after Dani, maybe because she had psychic abilities and seems to always target them (although not exclusively). Other personas include Farouk and Elias Bogan (although Bogan wasn't proven to be Farouk for sure on-panel, but I believe Claremont used other personas so he could use the Shadow King as much as he wanted but in different ways).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 14, 2016 12:33 PM
Wait, the Adversary was the Shadow King? When was it revealed?
Posted by: Piotr W | May 14, 2016 5:28 PM
@Andrew: If you look at the floating fragments showing Shadow King's hosts on the astral plane in Uncanny X-Men #273, you'll notice Naze!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 14, 2016 6:00 PM
@Nathan Adler: I can honestly say that before reading your comment I had never heard of even the faintest suggestion that the Adversary was just one of the Shadow King's personas. To me, the two characters are significantly different. Sure, they both inhabit host bodies but, beyond that, the Adversary is a reality-warping god of chaos while the Shadow King is a psionic being from the astral plane with massive telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Furthermore, their motivations differ since the Adversary creates chaos because he sees himself as a creator while the Shadow King is a sadist who feeds off the hatred experienced by humans.
As for the evidence that you cited, I dug out my copy of Uncanny X-Men #273 and took a look but the only host that I could positively identify was Amahl Farouk. The other faces were too generic for me to recognize. So, one of them might be Naze but I wouldn't consider that to be an actual revelation.
Posted by: Don Campbell | May 14, 2016 10:40 PM
Additionally, Claremont elsewhere has someone describe the Shadow King as a creature that wants to reduce existence to mechanistic *order* (presumably by corrupting and then controlling all sentient life); he's the antithesis of the Adversary if that's the case.
It'd also be weird for Roma to declare the Adversary "bound for an age" at the end of the Uncanny X-Men strand of Fall of the Mutants only for literally the very next arc to have the Shadow King start subtly manipulating the Reavers and the X-Men.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 15, 2016 1:35 PM
Yes, that is Naze seen in the shard! I recently read the original story with him, and he sure sounds like the Shadow King to me. Same thing with Elias Bogan, who enslaved Rachel Summers, someone the Shadow King had been interested in for a very long time due to the Phoenix Force. This takes us back to UNCANNY X-MEN in the early 120s when the Shadow King was intended by Claremont to have been manipulating Mastermind into seducing Jean to get to the Phoenix Force. This explains Mastermind's power upgrade much better than that mindtap mechanism that enabled him to project illusions directly inside Jean's mind and monitor her thoughts. I mean, he took on Cyclops in a psychic sword fight and beat him badly,something this mindtap device shouldn't have allowed him to be able to do, as it only enhanced his illusion casting abilities and allowed him to monitor Jean's thoughts. In addition, Mastermind was actually attempting to seduce Carol Danvers first, not Jean Grey, which was all a part of the Shadow King's plan to maneuver Carol/Ms. Marvel into a battle with the Hellfire Club, and more particularly Rogue, but that plot wasn't finished because MS. MARVEL was cancelled. Claremont continued the plot with Jean, but he was likely heading towards Jean anyway.
The Shadow King most definitely was controlling Mastermind during UNCANNY X-MEN #168-175. He wanted Rogue on the X-Men team to be his sleeper agent, so he used Mastermind's desire for revenge to get things going there. This was subtly revealed in the dialogue and images in X-TREME X-MEN ANNUAL 2001, where his plan came to fruition, albeit not in the original way Claremont had intended.
Another clue to the Shadow King's involvement in the Phoenix Saga: The psychic armor he wore in UNCANNY X-MEN #117 had a phoenix insignia on his helmet. So he knew about the Phoenix Force prior to his involvement with Xavier (this was before X-MEN:TRUE FRIENDS had been conceived). And, as I believe Nathan pointed out, we also have the island of Kirinos mixed in as well.
Back to the Adversary...as he has been used again in later stories, in both X-FACTOR and in CABLE AND X-FORCE, by different writers, I'd say the Adversary is a separate character now. Same thing with the Demon Bear.
Oh, and the Shadow King's interest in Rachel continued in NEW EXCALIBUR when he took over the body of an alternate reality Professor X and used his corrupted Shadow-X X-Men team against Rachel, Kitty, and New Excalibur in the first 8 issues.
So it's been shown that the Shadow King has used many a person to front for him throughout his activities. Farouk, Mastermind, the Adversary, Elias Bogan, alternate Professor X. Others. Technically using the same villain all the time is overkill, but with different front men it can be pulled off because each front man has their own backstory and personality to add to things.
But I guess we can chalk all this up to perception, as each reader can read a book and see different things, making it so one person's account of the story just as interesting as another's. :)
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 16, 2016 10:20 AM
For what it's worth, the profile on the Shadow King at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe website does not even mention either Naze or the Adversary, and they're usually VERY thorough about all such things.
Posted by: Don Campbell | May 16, 2016 11:12 AM
Agreed. The only real evidence is that single shard of Naze's face in UX #273 that indicated (to me) that the Shadow King and the Adversary were the same since the other two images showed Farouk and Jacob Reisz, two of his other avatars. Claremont was sneaky that way, using a single image created by the artist to reveal various plot points he had in mind (but never actually revealed in narration or dialogue).
So basically, since there wasn't any further indications, one can ignore that panel these images are in, so it's completely understandable why anyone else would (or even overlook it completely).
Several years ago, I made a gigantic profile on the Shadow King for my own use that incorporates everything I've seen and read, plus the stuff I've read regarding Claremont's original intentions in various profiles, so I tend to see things the way they were intended rather than as they became in regards to this character. I had to go through all of his appearances and add in all of Claremont's intentions and whatnot to piece it all together. Took a long time, but I do this kind of thing for fun and as a way to keep track of information and also as a way to enjoy all of the material.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 16, 2016 11:55 AM
Yeah, poor Claremont with all his genius ideas that he never bothered to tell in the 11 years he had on the book...
Posted by: AF | May 16, 2016 1:15 PM
Hmm, Demon Bear. Another name for the Wolverine is Devil Bear. I wonder if there is any significance to that? Is the Demon Bear what he'll evolve into when his berserker rage hits its peak!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 25, 2016 8:08 AM
I'm not sure what Warlock added to the team and think the character and his membership was a mistake. It definitely distracted the title from its core themes and made it seem out of place.
Posted by: Chris | May 28, 2017 10:50 PM
Chris, He's basically the "Teddie/Morgana" of the gruop (sorry. I've been playing that game a lot.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 29, 2017 2:34 PM
Chris, you're absolutely right, but hasn't that always been Claremont's MO? They spend large amounts of time fighting space aliens like the Brood and the Shi'ar. Illyana, Forge, Amanda Sefton, and Storm's ancestry make for a lot of magical-based plotlines. Carol Danvers spent a year or so fighting alongside the X-Men. Arcade is either a great villain or a stupid villain (or both) but either way, he doesn't fit into the core themes. Captain Britain's world doesn't fit.
On "New Mutants" specifically, a lost Roman city in the Amazon doesn't fit with the title's themes. A Russian girl who now rules a magical demon universe doesn't fit with the title's themes. The purple pet dragon doesn't fit with the title's themes. Team America doesn't fit with the title's themes.
You're absolutely right, but it's kind of a lost cause at this point.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2017 8:09 PM
Is it ever explained why Dani's parents are named "Lonestar" but Dani is "Moonstar"?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2017 8:12 PM
Also, one place I really give Claremont credit is for how Warlock's arrival demonstrated the breadth of his X-titles and the continuity he did his best to maintain between them. We see Warlock running from Magus, and that he has good reason to run from Magus. He passes by the Starjammers which should be impossible given the infinite depths of space. When he hits Earth, he crashes into Asteroid M.
Magneto's landing in the ocean is covered in the pages of "X-Men" where Lee fishes him out of the water. Then, back in "New Mutants," he completes his 'reformation' with her on that mysterious island until Xavier calls for help against the Beyonder, sending him back to the main title and setting him up to take over the school. Except for being kidnapped to Asgard, the X-Babies don't even qualify as witnesses to these events, they're just told about it after-the-fact by the adults.
Excellent storytelling, and a prime example of how Claremont's X-Titles set the standard, for good or bad.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2017 8:18 PM
ChrisW, I agree with your points but at least Magma and Magik (and the other team members) are actually mutants. Even when Longshot joins the X-Men, even though he's not a mutant either, he at least doesn't look out of place. Warlock was just bizarre. I could forgive him as a guest appearance for a storyline the team somehow got wrapped up in, but resolution to the Magus plot doesn't happen for almost three years later and Warlock stays on the team afterwards anyway. I just don't think anyone else was as enamored by Warlock as Claremont himself was.
I don't mind a little out of genre/theme element - it is a shared universe after all - but I do think Claremont would go overboard on that as well at times.
Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2017 8:47 PM
My point was kinda about Claremont going overboard as a general rule. In the course of going overboard, he's going to have Amara and Illyana [Carol Danvers, Mojo, Michael Rossi, Brightwind] because they can fit into the basic superhero genre. Which, incidentally, Claremont is transforming. At least Lee, Kirby and Ditko wanted their heroes to be heroes. "X-Men" #1 ended with the military promising to honor the muties at the highest levels of command. Look how that turned out.
You're still completely right about Warlock. I disagree that the Magus storyline was drawn out too long, but you're right that once it was over, there was no further use for him. I like Warlock, so I can at least see the argument that he'd stick around because he had nowhere else to go, and infecting Doug with the transmode virus could lead to future storylines.
But comics and the superhero genre have real uses for someone who can change from one shape to another automatically, and if they can be funny, even better. Plastic Man, Reed Richards and the Impossible Man served similar roles. Warlock works as a know-nothing teen in a world he never made who hooked himself up with the coolest guy around, Doug f*cking Ramsey. His shape-changing abilities are good superheroics, good comedy, good characterization, for the rest of the team if nothing else.
Easily-tiresome, I don't agree but can totally understand that. Warlock stayed around too long. I have the same problem with Longshot.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2017 9:16 PM
One appealing element of Warlock was the he was an artist's delight - in the right hands (usually Bill S., Bret Blevins or Art Adams). They could go to town drawing the character in ways that rarely added anything to the plot, but allowed them to be creative (and usually make a visual reference to some pop culture obsession), in ways they could not more commonly on a title like The New Mutants. It was a way to free the artist from the straightjacket of plot, at least a little bit. I loved the character for that reason.
The other reason I liked him is that Warlock added a sense of innocence and whimsy to a title that could, with Claremont's stories, become very dark, especially from the Mutant Massacre and onward. It was a nice lightening, and gave the series a healthy balance.
I agree that Warlock could have left the team with #50, and Doug could have dealt with the consequences, as he did anyway, since they only spent two more issues together before the latter's death. Louise Simonson never wrote much for him after #64, and a character like Warlock had no place in the Liefeld era (which is when I stopped reading).
Posted by: James | May 30, 2017 3:22 PM
In the early 2000s, I attended a comics art panel at my local museum. It was shortly after 9/11, but I don't remember the specifics. Bill Sienkiewicz was on that panel, and said he was impressed/flattered by the way Warlock had been drawn in ways that had nothing to do with his original model and let the artists make their own particular choices. I recall him citing Art Adams the most, particularly noting the "Asgardian Wars" panel of Warlock shrieking in fright and pointing a finger which has a face that is also shrieking in fright.
On the one hand, that's not what the X-titles should be focusing on, but on the other hand, that's great comics art, totally in character, totally in line with the ongoing stories, and just a really cool panel in its own right.
I can understand arguments against Warlock, but I don't agree.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 30, 2017 10:13 PM
I personally love Warlock. I haven't read MOST of the original New Mutants run, but he's a delight to read in everything that I have read. And he was an integral part of the fun of the 2009 revival. And also the only really fun element in Fallen Angels.
What I don't get is this obsession with "X-books should only be telling mutant stories." This idea that all space stuff, all mystic stuff, all non-mutant elements are out of place. I don't think that's quite the discussion here, but it's close, and that's certainly what has been mentioned elsewhere as a major reason Claremont gradually lost more and more control of "his" books.
I don't buy the argument. Should there be more mutant than non-mutant stuff in X-books? Sure there should. That doesn't mean that's all they should have. Despite Fox's movies, and despite what Disney may at times wish (and push) for in the books, the X-Men do NOT exist in their own universe. It's a shared universe for a reason. This is why we CAN have mutant characters pop up and even star in other books (I doubt I'll ever accept Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch not being mutants), and this is why the original '60s run of the X-Men had the non-mutant Juggernaut (come on, there is no particularly good reason why he was not made a mutant, Stan just didn't think that's ALL the X-Men were about) and the alien Stranger under Stan and Jack, and countless others under Roy Thomas and the other later writers of that run.
Posted by: J-Rod | June 1, 2017 10:34 AM
Were there times Claremont went overboard? Maybe a little. The heavily space-based stretch of issues from UXM 154 to 167 and the fairly frequent appearances of the Starjammers through 200 come to mind, as do some of the early mystic stories (I've always found that Annual 4 with Dr. Strange very boring). But cosmic grounding gave us the Phoenix and therefore the Dark Phoenix, still generally (not unanimously) agreed to be the best X-Men story. Cosmic stories gave us one of the creepiest X-villains, the Brood (OK, so really Ridley Scott gave us this, still I think Claremont's spin with the transformations had its own level of creepy). Mystic stories gave us Juggernaut, Magik, Inferno, all characters and stories that many people liked. And on the other hand, focusing on mutant themes hasn't always worked out; for large stretches of the 90s and 2000s, there were some dreadful stretches of almost exclusively mutant-focused X-stories. Was there some good mixed in? Sure. And some of that had non-mutant stuff.
Posted by: J-Rod | June 1, 2017 10:42 AM
J-Rod, I agree. I think a large part of the conflict comes from the increasing amount of "identity politics" over the last 40 years. "Mutant" stories must be about mutants. No if's, and's or but's. They must conform to a very limited set of stories where the muties are heroes but also hated as outcasts. Threats by aliens or magicians don't matter because they aren't about mutants and they don't exploit the mutant plight. Once you reform Magneto and have Xaviers School join the Hellfire Club, the whole concept of Evil Mutants is out the window, so don't even think of telling stories that place the muties in an unfavorable light. Even as they brainwash and mindwipe people at the drop of a hat.
I'm someone who will go 'dude, it's a comic book' as a first response and only think in-depth about it when I want to. The strength of Claremont's X-titles and the Marvel Universe as a whole is a good thing. Some of my favorite moments in Claremont's run involve acknowledging the larger world outside mutanthood. Emma Frost calls the Avengers on Magneto. The Brood Saga. "Inferno." "FF vs. X-Men." The Kulan Gath 2-parter is one of my favorite comics ever.
But Claremont and his enablers are some of the people most responsible for "identity politics." Larry Bodine could have lived a long fruitful life, or at worst ended up like Scott McCloud's "The Sculptor" (a 500-page graphic novel that turned into a superhero story at the very end) but that's not the world he lived in.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 3, 2017 10:57 PM
Farouk, a few Magneto stories, the first few Hellfire Club stories, Proteus who had a bad childhood, Black Tom... I'm having trouble of thinking of any place in Claremont's stories where there was a genuine Evil Mutant involved. Shan's brother was evil but he died. The Morlocks were a tribe. The Marauders' claim to be mutants always seemed far-fetched before they were revealed to be clones. Freedom Force was just old X-Men villains anyway. Rogue was a villain, briefly, then joined the team.
Looking up these issues, it's actually amazing how few of the villains were mutants, and even more amazing is how few of them had anything to do with mutants. Just looking up, say, appearances by Storm, I see a stretch where the villains are the Sidri, Rogue, Dracula, Belasco, HYDRA, the Brood, the Morlocks, Viper and Silver Samurai, Mastermind [an actual evil mutant] Morlocks, a giant dragon, Juggernaut, Forge, Dire Wraiths, Kulan Gath, Thunderbird II, anti-mutant bigots, Lady Deathstrike, Morlocks, Freedom Force, Loki, the Beyonder, Fenris, the Sentinels, Rachel...
I might be missing a couple of villains, but Fenris, Mastermind and Freedom Force are the closest to Evil Mutants as we get. Forge, the Sentinels, the Morlocks and Fenris all vaguely serve the "mutant" themes, but only Fenris qualify as Evil, and they were created to serve as a sequel to #161.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 3, 2017 11:19 PM
Bahahaha @ Rachel as a villain. You're totally right, she's the villain in that story. When I reread that months ago (for the first time since I was a kid), I was like, oh yeah, no wonder she was an X-Man for so short a time. Rachel sucks right now.
I think one of the strengths of Claremont's run is his willingness to bend norms. Evil mutants? Yeah, maybe, but maybe they're just misguided. Maybe this one dude survived the Holocaust and then more assholes killed his daughter and he kinda snapped (though I must say I'm a much bigger fan of Magneto's more recent second reformation than I am of his first one). Maybe this other dude who seems like a monstrous little beast of a man who has no business on a superhero team is actually an honorable samurai warrior with a tragic past. Maybe this chick who tried to kill all the Avengers is really just a scared kid. Maybe the people controlling these robots are.....ok, they're legit villains, that's fine.
I think that keeping the X-Men from being totally mutant-centric was part of this strength. I also think that anytime the X-Men get too far away from being superheroes and too absorbed in the mutant muck of it all is when it gets bad, with only a few exceptions.
Posted by: J-Rod | June 6, 2017 11:42 AM
Rachel had serious problems. She went from a time-travelling Holocaust survivor with parental issues [shades of Jubilee?] to her mother's daughter, willing to destroy the universe just because she thinks it's a good idea, to a total wreck who gets seduced by Mojo, at which point she becomes the big-breasted babe in sheer clothing that we all know.
Claremont at his best was able to tell good superhero stories. It is his prize and his curse that they were all about muties, and he was far too good at his job of thinking about the mutant point of view. He brought in the entire Marvel Universe, and when that didn't suffice, at least kept tabs on Ms. Marvel or Spider-Woman whom he had a personal connection with.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 7, 2017 1:16 AM
About 10 years ago, in a very lonely summer, I decided to read all Uncanny X-Men books from 1 to the latest one, because why not.
Right now, I am re-reading all of them again, just with all the other "mutie" books to round the fun. This website is really helpful for the reading order! I would otherwise get lost quickly.
Anyway. New Mutants so far was above-average book, that just lacked "something special" that main X-men had. It's better than Dazzler which I am reading on the side, that's for sure (I skip Alpha Flight for now). But it's still wasn't that great.
Until this storyline. Holy damn, how much does an artist change the mood. It went from X-babies to horror quickly. I love this, and want it printed....
Unfortunately it seems trades of this arc are way overpriced. I don't know if it's worth it to wait if the new movie will make Marvel reprint it (seems they will borrow a lot from this arc).
About the concerns that Claremont made the stories about everything except mutants... I don't really care, it makes the stories interesting, recycling just the mutant hysteria would get old quickly. He got into space basically from the get go, and all the weird settings made the book what it is, together with the strong characters
Posted by: Karel | November 6, 2017 7:18 PM
If you are willing to buy a digital download, the e-book editions of New Mutants Classics from Amazon/Comixology (six volumes compiling all of the issues scripted by Claremont) are very affordable, even more so when Marvel periodically slashes prices on them (to increase quarterly sales numbers, according to rumor). I picked up volumes #4 and #5 for about $3.99 each on those sales.
Posted by: James | November 7, 2017 11:41 AM
Er, seven volumes, my mistake.
Posted by: James | November 7, 2017 11:47 AM
Corsi and Friedlander represent an early example of Claremont's bizarre "race-changing" bit. It happens to Psylocke later, too. What the hell is that all about?
Posted by: JP! | January 31, 2018 6:54 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|