New Mutants #65-66
Issue(s): New Mutants #65, New Mutants #66
Illyana is not handling her brother's death well, and she's found a target for her rage: Forge, who cast the spell that used the X-Men's souls to push back the Adversary. That was a voluntary decision on the X-Men's part, and (as Magneto points out) that's public knowledge since the entire event was broadcast on television, but Magik is an irrational teenager dealing with grief and also a demon princess, so there's no deterring her. Magneto's response is just to crankily reiterate his "no powers" edict to the rest of the students.
I'm kind of disappointed by Magneto's inability to stop Magik from teleporting away. Not that he should necessarily have the power to do so physically. But New Mutants #52 had a really nice moment where Magneto helped Magik with her problems in Limbo, and they bonded and it seemed like he was becoming a father figure to her. It was a nice pairing: the former super-villain mentoring the girl raised by a demon. But Louise Simonson specifically acknowledged that story (which was written by Claremont) before having Magik's faith in Magneto destroyed thanks to a pretty basic misunderstanding (something that wouldn't pass the cell phone test) and she's been writing Magneto as an old grump who hasn't even tried to communicate with his wards. A story about Magneto failing to live up to Professor X's expectations and be a good teacher would be great, but that's not really developed here (with one interesting exception below) and he just falls into a kind of angry parent background fixture. It's kind of a waste of the guy's potential and based on that i can see why the decision to return him to a villainous status was eventually made.
Having gotten no support from Magneto or the New Mutants, Magik teleports over to Muir Island to visit Kitty. It seems to be the first time in a while that they've seen each other (and/but note that Lockheed is with Kitty, unlike in issue #63).
Kitty has been watching replays of the X-Men and is definitely shown to be hurting (especially for her ex-boyfriend Colossus, and Storm, who was "like a mother to me") dying during Fall of the Mutants, just like Magik, but she rejects Magik's idea of killing Forge. Kitty asks Magik why she's acting like "such a baby" (a reversal of Uncanny X-Men #168?) but Magik is still possessed by rage and teleports away.
She returns to the X-Mansion, teleporting to the attic where the New Mutants assembled new costumes for themselves, with the intent of grabbing her new costume before going after Forge. The other New Mutants happen to be in the attic as well, debating whether or not they should help Magik and what exactly "helping" means. When Magik teleports in, they jump into her stepping disc and arrive in Limbo with her. Most of the New Mutants, especially the older Cannonball and Mirage, try to stop her but she's egged on by Sunspot.
Bret Blevins decides to provide some fan service during this scene, showing Magik undressing during the conversation. We've seen her just magic clothes onto people before, too, and the scene is all the more pointless since Magik will immediately transform into her armored Darkchilde form to battle Forge. So it's just there for teenage boys to enjoy, and the rest of us can just sort of uncomfortably look away.
Also interesting is that the kids think that Forge is a "master sorcerer". Having been introduced to Forge in the period where he had rejected his magical side in favor of his mutant inventing power, i think of him more as someone who dabbles in sorcery than a master. I know he embraced his powers again to fight the Adversary, but in that story he even had to rely on a combination of technology and Storm's powers to escape the Adversary's pocket dimension, for example.
When the New Mutants teleport out of limbo, we see S'ym basically making the first of several allusions to the upcoming Inferno event, which S'ym promises will be way more awesome than Fall of the Mutants.
The Ani-mator, a Right goon, one of the flying aliens from New Mutants #55 can be seen (and just a generic demon on the far left, i think), can be seen along with S'ym. All are now infected with the transmode virus.
When we get to Dallas, any moderating influence Cannonball and Mirage had over Magik goes right out the window. Forge (actually it's a shape-shifted Mystique) has been prepped for Magick's attack by Destiny, who is talking about the degree of threat that Magik presents to the world. Magik isn't fazed by that at all and immediately attacks.
This fight allows us to see Blevins' very cartoony depiction of Freedom Force, which i enjoy in a Marvel Playskool Heroes kind of way.
Some funny bits during the fight...
...especially when Destiny declines to warn Spiral about a falling wall because she apparently doesn't like her very much.
It eventually comes out that "Forge" is really Mystique.
Destiny tries to show Magik what she thinks she is going to unleash because of "her willfulness, her desire for revenge".
The New Mutants debate whether or not Freedom Force is telling the truth, and the Sunspot-Magik faction again votes in favor of continuing the hunt for Forge. The real Forge then shows up, and Magik teleports him (and the New Mutants) over to him. Destiny hopes that her warning may still have made a difference, because "the fate of our world hangs in the balance", but says that at this point Freedom Force has done all it can and can go home. Enforcing the Mutant Registration Act during a battle between unauthorized mutants in downtown Dallas i guess takes a back seat to... not doing that?
Signs of Destiny's prediction are already available. During the fight between Magik and Forge, Warlock discovers a rock imbued with a demon face.
Forge does indeed seem to be a master sorcerer.
He also has no idea who Illyana is, so he questions her during the fight and finds out that she's Colossus' sister. He says that Colossus mentioned that his sister brought him to Dallas but he didn't know what it meant at the time (nice touch throwing that in), and of course reiterates what Magik should already know, which is that the X-Men gave up their lives voluntarily. And he parallels Magik's current actions, as S'ym did, to his own past, where he abused his magic and inadvertently opened a demonic portal.
None of that is getting through, and the New Mutants make another attempt at holding Magik back, but she responds by teleporting everyone to Limbo where she's the master sorcerer and she can bind her fellow students. Forge responds by going the full native American with his sorcery.
He also (my interpretation) tries to get Magik to admit why she's really lashing out, by pointing out that she herself is sort of responsible for Colossus' death because she's the one who teleported him to Dallas. That's not a rational argument, but it's surely a way to expose the guilt Magik must be feeling. Forge then stops fighting and lets Magik stab him. Demons from Limbo then gather around her and goad her to kill Forge and "Return to us!" "Rule us!". She's also faced with a vision of herself having succumbed to the demonic influence.
Ultimately she rejects the demons and decides to not kill Forge. She tells him that he doesn't "deserve to be with Storm and my brother" and sends him back to Dallas hoping his own guilt will torment him. She and the New Mutants return to the X-Mansion's attic, and they try to convince her that she's not yet over the edge.
Wolfsbane says that she "didn't kill anybody" but as this arc reminded us, she did basically kill the Ani-Mator and a few others. Still, this is presented as a possible turning point for the better for Magik and you can't blame the other kids for putting a positive spin on it.
As for the nominal adult supervisor in this book, here's that exception i mentioned about Magneto. He's been oblivious to the New Mutants' absence and the kids now see him in (a variant of) his classic villain costume.
After the Birdbrain arc, i've been surprised by an upswing in the Simonson/Blevins issues. Magik has reached Mantlo-ian levels of histrionic angst over her brother's death, but she is after all someone that was raised in a demonic dimension, and her supervision since then has been minimal. Same with her lack of morality. We should also consider the cruelty inflicted on Magik by her brother by pretending that he's dead. I think Magik's attitude, crazed and enraged as it is, works well for this story. And on top of that, it's a good fight with Freedom Force and then a nice mystic battle with Forge.
Unfortunately i think this upswing is coming to an end because at the end of issue #66, we're introduced to Gosamyr and Spyder.
The lettercol in issue #65 says that "the upcoming FALLEN ANGELS Limited series" will address the question of Karma's missing siblings, which explains why that topic has been ignored in this book.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #65 begins soon after the end of issue #64, with the kids still sitting around in front of the television and wearing the same clothes (different coloring, but same design). Magneto has walked in the room, but probably not much time has passed. The MCP has the New Mutants' cameo in Uncanny X-Men #230 between this arc and issue #67. Kitty does not yet seem to be a member of Excalibur (not that there's any specific way to tell; she could always just be visiting Muir Island) so i've placed this prior to that. Since the Excalibur Special Edition book shows the events of Fall of the Mutants still being broadcast on television, i'll note that Kitty says here that "What happened in Dallas is still all over TV!". Freedom Force's appearance in issue #65 has to take place after Captain America #339, which means that at least a portion of the team has been back and forth between Dallas and Maryland.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAni-mator, Avalanche, Blob, Cannonball, Crimson Commando, Destiny, Forge, Gosamyr, Lockheed, Magik, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Mystique, Pyro, S'ym, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Spiral, Spyder, Stonewall, Sunspot, Super Sabre, Warlock, Wolfsbane
Note that Illyana's scrying glass is destroyed in this story, and not fixed until New Mutants 73.
Posted by: Michael | June 26, 2014 7:57 PM
One look at Gosamyr and Spyder and I was just done. The art had gotten horrendous, with a bunch of little skinny wretches running around. The characters were all in hysterionics all the time. Magneto, who had been done so well as a character by Claremont, was becoming a complete cartoon (Michael's comments back up that idea - Claremont writes Magneto as a subtle, intriguing character and Simonson just seems to throw all that away).
Though I had given up Cap when Steve Roger stepped down, I would go back to it when he came back. This was the first Marvel comic that I ever gave up completely. I wouldn't read it again until after Leifeld came on and I wouldn't actually buy another issue until it became X-Force.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 28, 2015 7:14 AM
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