The Small Lebowski:
New Mutants #26-28
Issue(s): New Mutants #26, New Mutants #27, New Mutants #28
The son, David, has multiple personality disorder (referred to in these issues as schizophrenia. That was a common error at the time; see also: Aurora), the result of a traumatic terrorist attack. Inside David's head are three distinct personalities in addition to David's (which is mostly undeveloped and unseen). There's Jemail, who was one of the terrorists, and whose personality got sucked into David's head.
There's Jack Wayne, an amalgam of cowboy/action-hero characters.
And Cyndi, a punk-ish female brat.
Each personality has its own powers (Jemail: telepathy, Jack: telekenetics, Cyndi: pyromancy). Altogether, they are called Legion.
Xavier, Haller, and the New Mutants wind up getting sucked into Legion's head, where a war is playing out between the various personalities. It turns out that Jemail is actually the good guy here. He'd been trying to restore David's personality, and Jack Wayne wanted to stop him in order to preserve his own. In the end, the personalities all remain in David's head in an uneasy co-existence.
A battle between Professor Xavier and his mentally ill son on the astral plane drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz equals surreal madness...
...and occasionally accidental(?) tributes to Pink Floyd.
Unfortunately, while the plot really allows Sienkiewicz to go wild, it leaves Claremont somewhat stranded from a storytelling perspective, to the point where he's often adding text that has absolutely nothing to do with the pictures.
More generally, Claremont's characteristic wordiness combined with Sienkiewicz's abstract art makes these issues occasionally more like a picture book rather than an actual comic. Interesting experiment but not something i'd like to see all the time.
A letter printed in New Mutants #42 from someone from the Committee for Palestine takes Claremont to task for perpetuating Arab stereotypes and Zionist propaganda. But the letter was written after reading only issues #26-27, and Claremont responds with the fact that Jemail, not Jack Wayne, was shown to be the good guy in issue #28:
The point, in the end, is that both Gaby and Jemail are able to put aside their long-held animosities, to work together - and in Jemail's case, make a considerable sacrifice - to save the life, the native consciousness, of an innocent boy.
In subplots, Empath is punished by the White Queen for his actions in Uncanny X-Men #193, and his powers are removed.
And Lee Foster and Magneto's relationship has its ups and downs.
Lee Forrester thinks about the strange Cthulhu-esque statues on the island that she and Magneto are staying at:
I see that statue every time I swim. Suddenly, the implications of its pose have become painfully personal. A human couple, draped worshipfully at the feed of their non-human lord and master.
She goes on to compare it to Magneto's thoughts about humans, but as usual the origins of the island and its statue are never explained. At first i was frustrated by this, but instead maybe i should just enjoy the fact that in the Marvel Universe there are strange ruins, the remnants of years and years of strange one-off stories going back to the days of Kull and Conan.
Later, Empath tries to set up a vengeance scheme against both the White Queen and Professor X by offering Magma and Sunspot to the Gladiator organization that we previously saw in Beauty and the Beast. I'm not sure how a non-powered Empath is in a position to offer anything along those lines, but i guess we'll see.
During the final battle inside Legion, Xavier is knocked out by an unrelated psychic presence. It turns out to be the Beyonder, heading to Earth.
For some reason i wound up with the "X-Men Archives" reprint of issue #26 even though the original issues sell in the less than one dollar range, and it adds two pages of text in the form of a journal entry from Xavier about Legion, but the journal references events that take place after these issues, so it's not really relevant.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Banshee is returned to Muir Island in this arc after having been kidnapped by Thunderbird II in Uncanny X-Men #193. Professor Xavier is unconscious for almost two weeks ("better part of a fortnight"), and then he wakes up. Secret Wars II #1 depicts a scene during that time when he wakes up briefly to alert people to the Beyonder's arrival, so the end scene in issue #28 here takes place after Secret Wars II #1, which also means that it takes place after New Mutants #30, since that issue is concurrent with SW II #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men Archives #1 (Issues #27-28 are originals)
Inbound References (4): showBanshee, Cypher, Empath, Gabrielle Haller, Lee Forrester, Legion, Madrox the Multiple Man, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Moira MacTaggert, Professor X, Reverend Craig, Sharon Friedlander, Tom Corsi, Warlock, White Queen (Emma Frost), Wolfsbane
The strange thing is that Empath isn't mentioned in the remaining issues where Magma and Sunspot are grabbed by the Gladiators and when he shows up again in New Mutants 38, he inexplicably has his powers back. (Presumably, Emma gave him them back because the Club needed him to perform some jobs for them.)
Posted by: Michael | April 15, 2012 2:25 PM
When I first read these issues, I thought Legion's hair was just a stylistic choice on the part of Sienkiewicz. But no, Secret Wars II #1 showed that his hair does defy gravity for no apparent reason. He did actually have a normal chin, though...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 15, 2012 4:15 PM
These were my first issues of New Mutants back when I was a kid, and boy, were they ever baffling. I've re-read them recently - boy, are they ever baffling.
I also don't think Bill S's artwork was well-suited for the mindscape stuff. The coloring choices didn't help, either.
Posted by: Paul | March 23, 2013 4:51 PM
My read on Empath offering Magma and Sunspot to the Gladiators wasn't that he was going to capture them, but just that he was providing the information--the dossiers he mentions--that would let the Gladiators nab Roberto and Amara themselves.
The Lee Forrester subplot is important in reforming Magneto. Previously we've seen him regret almost killing Kitty and looking out for mutant interests in GLMK, but this is when he seems to give up on villainy, I guess in part because he's in love with Alytys, though that gets dropped after about Uncanny 199 (unless Lee appears with Mags in some later New Mutants stories I've not yet read).
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 6, 2013 10:44 PM
According to Amazing Heroes #39, Legion's name was suggested by John Byrne. He was also supposed to have more personalities, such as a teleporter and a telaudio(whatever that is).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 7, 2013 4:45 PM
This story was originally announced as a two-parter.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 11, 2013 3:51 PM
While fans point to Excalibur #22 (instalment of the Cross-Time Caper) as the first suggestion that Shadow King was the true force behind the Hellfire Club, it actually occurred much earlier. In New Mutants #28, Empath goes to meet the Gladiators' contact person specifically at Hellfire Club, and it was then revealed to be Farouk's show. So Claremont obviously had this plan much earlier than 1990.
What still remains up in the air is who the unidentified representative of the Gladiators Manuel de la Rocha met with!? It was a female he gave dossiers of Magma and Sunspot to. She advised Empath she would pass his proposition on to her employer and that he'd be suitably rewarded. What was the reward?
It's interesting that Empath offers them Magma and Sunspot when you consider these two New Mutants are shown in #50 leading the Hellfire Club in the future!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 10, 2015 6:00 AM
I'd noticed that too. I'm currently leafing through a few collections of "New Mutants Classic." I didn't recall that they were leading the Hellfire Club in the future, but I did notice that Empath offered up Emmanuel's son as well as the heiress to Nova Roma, where the Club has extensive interest, as does Selene. Also worth noting that Emmanuel and Selene were inducted at the same time, although she was on the Inner Circle.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 10, 2015 8:25 AM
@ChrisW: Yes just what were the extensive interest the Club had in Nova Roma? What's interesting the early New Mutants stories is Selene's husband, Domitius, remarking that Rahne Sinclair's red hair suggests she’s a descendant of Julius Caesar! Now when else has Claremont ever made reference to Julius Caesar? Why Marada the She-Wolf of course, whose mother was born of him. So was Nova Roma somehow connected to Marada Starhair? Was she forced to flee there because certain factions in Rome couldn't let a direct heir to Julius take power from the males? And if Marada founded the city, how came she there? And how did Selene similarly end up there? Claremont intended Marada to be a Faltine-hybrid similar to Clea so what purpose would Selene have for subverting control of the city from that lineage given Magma's mother was apparently her daughter?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 10, 2015 9:29 AM
That I can't answer. I don't seek to explain these things in a 'win a No-Prize' way. I'm more fascinated by the plot and story construction. Your way is possibly better because it actually explains these things. I care more about what Claremont was doing as a writer.
I've just spent the evening going through "New Mutants" at roughly the same pace as "X-Men" to see how various ideas were introduced, developed and advanced in the process.
Short version: Take it as a given that Claremont had to rethink everything once Jean Grey came back, but the Hellfire Club is the key. Illyana had her own storyline, Dani would fit into anything Claremont had going, Doug and Warlock were linked from the beginning. Bobby and his father, Amara, Rachel and Selene, and Magneto taking over the school and then joining the Hellfire Club were key. Especially with Nimrod and the ever-present development of Sentinels. Claremont was thinking about "Days of Futures Past" and how the New Mutants would fit into it, and extrapolating that into Bobby and Amara leading the Hellfire Club into a mutant tyranny.
I'll try to type up my notes into a coherent essay in the next few days, but it's astounding how much the two of them were connected in every way with Selene's development. When undergoing heatstroke in Rio De Janiero, Amara fantasized about becoming One with the Sun God and destroying the city, because it would be fun. At the end of Claremont's run, she did exactly that in the "Days of Futures Past" world, against the Sentinels. Right before the issue where she and Bobby are running everything anyway.
Believe me, look at these two series concurrently and you'll understand why they are the perfect example of continuity (even though it's Claremont) and some of the greatest comics ever. The X-Babies fight Viper and the Silver Samurai just before Shan disappears, and the next time they meet, the Hellions have beaten them, and Shan disappears again. You can't buy that kind of storytelling.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 11, 2015 12:46 AM
The White Queen was the best ally of the (future) White King. The Black Queen was determined to tear down the Black King. A good chunk of "X-Men" #150-200 (and spin-offs) was devoted to showing that Emma and the Hellions weren't totally evil villains. Empath and Roulette, sure, but Thunderbird wasn't, Tarot and Jetstream were just students and showed many redeeming qualities. Catseye was a typical Claremont weirdo. And this is without comparison to the New Mutants.
In the first Hellions storyline, Empath has verbally abused Jetstream, but suddenly apologizes in a way that Emma finds suspicious. And although Amara isn't specifically mentioned, Tarot has suddenly pulled a card from her deck, "The Lovers." Claremont really thought these things out, for good or bad.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 11, 2015 12:53 AM
@ChrisW: When did Viper and Silver Samurai fight the X-Babies?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 11, 2015 1:05 AM
The early issues, ending when Shan was taken by Farouk. And then again in #53-54, although the Hellions were the ones who actually fought them, the issue when Shan left and went to Madripoor to serve her uncle.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 11, 2015 1:21 AM
I suppose it's in the name, isn't it? The Hellfire Club uses the chess piece names, and if Farouk is secretly running it then he's literally a "Shadow" King in their hierarchy.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 11, 2015 7:56 AM
You know, a 4 HSR strikes me as a touch low for the first appearance of a character who has his own live-action TV show AND headlined a book for 25 issues. Consider that Spider-Woman 37-38 gets a 5 for first appearance of Siryn (I use that example because I was just on there like 20 minutes ago). I know the HSR is highly subjective (and further that Legion's show came out like 5 years after this entry and well over a year after the last comment and that X-Men Legacy Volume 2 ran from 2012-2014) and anyone's free to tell me to just go away already, but I'd argue that headlining a live-action show AND a solo book (not to mention a fairly lengthy and significant time in the cast of X-Men Legacy Vol. 1) should make Legion worth at least as much as Siryn, a character with a history mostly in peripheral X-titles (X-Force, X-Factor).
But hey, that's just me.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 9, 2017 5:10 PM
To be fair, when it got gave it it's HSR, the Legion show wasn't even a thing and his comic hadn't been announced yet either. And nobody has mentioned changing it before you so I don't think it was on fnord's mind.
I agree with you but to play devil's adovcate, his history is mostly in peripheral X-titles too and Siryn has at least twice as many appearances as he does. She also did appear briefly but prominently in a very tiny role in X-Men 2 whereas the TV show is a very very loose adaptation of Legion.
Posted by: AF | May 10, 2017 6:23 AM
Yeah, those are certainly fair points. Actually, at the time this entry was made, a 4 was probably about right. Possibly even too high (though given that he caused both Age of Apocalypse and the lesser-known but recent at the time Age of X, I think he probably deserves a 4). I just think it's taken on more historical significance in the past year. I think that Siryn and Legion are of approximately equal importance at this point, in all honesty, so I'd simply argue changing this from a 4 to a 5.
Also, I completely forgot Siryn's appearance in X-Men 2! I haven't seen that in a while. It's still probably in my top 3 X-Men movies.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 10, 2017 9:57 AM
I agree that Legion deserves a bump in the HSR due to more recent developments.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 10, 2017 10:29 AM
I can't seem to enjoy Claremont's work in the mid 80s. Too many subplots, too contrived, too many characters. In the x-men there are no two panels with the same characters than the previous ones. I just can't follow the stories. And in this book, the surreal artwork is just another deterrent. I literally can't tell what's going on (and the words don't even help), it almost look like it's all random.
Posted by: will | September 12, 2017 9:21 AM
Yeah some experimenting is good, but this is only barely readable and understandable.
I still like it, at least it has its own voice
Posted by: Karel | November 26, 2017 5:36 PM
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