The Small Lebowski:
New Mutants #75
Issue(s): New Mutants #75
This is one of Byrne's earliest issues after returning to the Marvel universe, and his style is looking a little different. That may in part be due to him trying to keep the tone of Bret Blevins to an extent; Cannonball's chin is especially cartoony. But i also don't see as much as what i think of as the Byrne faces, especially the Byrne Smirk.
Before we even get to the Magneto/Shaw fight, the New Mutants have to contend with Sabretooth, who the X-Men and X-Factor have irresponsibly just left laying in the rubble after their big fight. Sunspot takes a nasty swipe to the face.
But then he gets taken out very easily by Cannonball, and Mirage senses something funny about his death.
This is hinting that the Sabretooth we've been seeing during Inferno is a clone, but the possibility that something is wrong with Mirage's valkyrie powers, based on the headaches she's been having, is also raised.
Sunspot seems to have handled that claw to the face just fine, by the way.
It's at that point that Magneto and the rest of the Hellfire Inner Circle show up.
Sunspot, still a hotheaded adolescent, immediately starts shouting that the New Mutants won't go back to Magneto, and starts throwing stuff.
Shaw, neither a hothead nor an adolescent, responds by punching Sunspot in his poor face.
And then Cannonball gets knocked out by slamming into some debris lifted up by Selene.
Cannonball is supposed to be nigh invulnerable while blasting, and Sunspot is supposed to not have any defensive powers. What's going on here?!
The fighting continues for a bit but then Magneto shuts things down by enclosing all the New Mutants in a big metal ball. It's at this point that Magneto learns that Illyana has been reverted to childhood (like Kitty Pryde but unlike the New Mutants, he speaks Russian and can understand Illyana).
When Shaw hears about this, he tears into Magneto for having lost a valuable asset.
Shaw is very fists-first for a guy that is nominally more interested in subtle influence than brute power, and he knocks Magneto to the ground. What follows is Magneto's declaration that he did indeed start down the path of peace, in part thanks to his experience with Lee Forrester, but that even then he was preparing for a struggle for world domination, not between humans and mutants, but between the various mutant factions. And to test them, he let the X-Men go off and fight the Marauders alone, to see how well they'd do.
At the time of the Mutant Massacre, he seemed more genuinely concerned with all of the mutant deaths, but i did wonder why he didn't get directly involved.
Magneto also talks about joining the Hellfire Club like it was all part of his own scheme and doesn't even mention that he collaborated with Storm on that.
You can see Magneto explicitly rejecting Xavier's dream...
...and explaining why (as the Mutants put it) he started "bossing us around instead of explaining things to us." "He didn't want us thinking or acting for ourselves." "He wanted us trained like soldiers, to obey, to do whatever he told us, no questions asked."
Magneto wasn't really successful in this. Go back and read the early Silver Age X-Men issues and compare them to Simonson's New Mutants and tell me who got trained more like soldiers.
Magneto also says the reason he didn't get involved in Fall of the Mutants was because he wanted the X-Men to learn the consequences of what happens when you put yourself on the line for humans.
Again, what we actually saw during the Fall of the Mutants was Magneto trying to find the missing New Mutants. We never saw any sign that he was aware that the X-Men had left to fight the Adversary.
But even though it's a retcon, at least i can understand Magneto's philosophy. Shaw's is incomprehensible to me.
Magneto manages to defeat Shaw by burying him in metal rubble, overloading his ability to absorb kinetic energy. And then he asks the Hellfire Queens to vote Shaw out.
And they agree. For the White Queen, it's because Magneto emphasizes (as Shaw says, she should have already known) Shaw's involvement in the Sentinel program. And Emma remembers how Nimrod seemed like an advanced Sentinel which killed some of their members.
For Selene, it's in return for free Amazon Prime membership.
The idea that Magneto has really been saying all of this as a weird lesson for the New Mutants is supported by this hilarious we're standing right here scene.
And by the fact that Magneto lets them all go instead of, say, having the White Queen mind-control them.
Magneto tells Sunspot that he'll be the first to join him, playing on what he already knows about Sunspot's fears. As the New Mutants leave, Emma and Magneto have a private mental conversation, with Magneto acknowledging that he knows that the New Mutants heard about Selene's renewed interest in the Amazon and hoping that they'll go there and stop her, clearing the way for the Hellfire Club to be controlled by just one king and queen.
If nothing else, after a lot of Bret Blevins i'm very happy to have the nice clean storytelling of John Byrne. Storywise, my feelings again are very similar to the situation with Madelyne Pryor. Magneto's time as a good guy had played out its usefulness, and i can understand the desire to reverse it at this point. The difference here is that there wasn't an immediate crisis point like there was in the Jean/Maddie relationship, so Simonson could have taken the time to develop something further. She could have still had the New Mutants decide to quit Xavier's "school" and go live with X-Factor, and the loss of the rest of his students could have been the final nail that drove Magneto down a path towards evil again. We didn't have to have this immediate and retroactive reversal. And again, unlike Maddie, it's harder to square the things Magneto is saying with what we've actually seen. Magneto wasn't possessed by (a part of) the Phoenix force. We can still reason that he's not being truthful or sane, but of course that takes the wind out of the sails of this story.
I also wish Shaw's position was more fleshed out. I get, and like, the idea that the Hellfire Club's goal is to place themselves into a position of influence and power within human society. My understanding of them is that they don't really take any position at all on the question of mutant rights; they just use their gifts to benefit themselves. But their acceptance of Magneto and Storm into their ranks seemed to suggest something else; surely they understood Magneto's interest in mutant rights, and Storm is an X-Man! It's a shame that was never developed and instead devolves into the petty physical fight here.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack King (Sebastian Shaw), Black Queen (Selene), Cannonball, Illyana Rasputin (Alt-Limbo version), Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Sabretooth, Sunspot, Warlock, White Queen (Emma Frost), Wolfsbane
Byrne had said at the time that Bob Harras had called him up to ask him to draw an issue of New Mutants. He first said that he didn't want to draw the New Mutants. Then Harras said that Magneto reverts to evil in this issue, to which Byrne replied that in that case, he'd make time.
I saw some of the pencils once and they were extremely loose. You are mostly looking at McLeod's work here.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 9, 2014 7:41 PM
McLeod's inks explain why this looks slightly different for Byrne, particularly the faces. Regardless, Byrne's art style had started to change at DC and would continue with his return to Marvel. By the mid-90s his art no longer excited me. The faces would start looking more cartoony and he would start drawing slimmer bodies on the male superheroes. But, at this time, he was probably my favorite artist and I would rush to pick up any book he drew. When I saw this issue of New Mutants on the rack I eagerly bought it, despite having dropped the title a few years before and not really caring a whit about it anymore.
Posted by: Robert | September 9, 2014 7:45 PM
Oh and I didn't like what I read so I didn't bother to continue with the title. I returned during the Cable/Liefeld era out of curiosity.
Posted by: Robert | September 9, 2014 7:49 PM
This certainly looks like a rushed job, with obvious shortcuts like the triple headshot of Magneto at the end.
Byrne's style in this issue, even considering Bob McLeod's inks, shows to be well halfway between his odd Starbrand pencils (he really drove that book to the ground at full throttle) and his somewhat new standard style, best realized in Next Men. The storytelling choices, particularly, are very much post-Superman and proto-Next Men.
As for Byrne's motivations here, I dunno... did he ever give a hint of feeling that strongly about Magneto or his motivations? I seem to recall that he disagreed with making Magneto a half-hero, maybe he wanted to get back at Claremont by undoing that and at Shooter by being the one to participate in such a major turn?
Considering the petty shots at Shooter that Byrne kept writing in this time period, that may well have been his motivation.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 9, 2014 8:50 PM
But fnord, there's an obvious explanation- Magneto is suffering from MPD. That's obviously what Simonson intended. How could you possibly miss it?
Posted by: Michael | September 9, 2014 10:34 PM
I'm not trying to defend Louise Simonson's writing, but there is something to be said for the convenience and wisdom of giving some of those dangling plot threads even a rushed resolution as opposed to keep dangling them.
For good or worse, Claremont seems to have written himself and other X-Writers into something of a corner ever since he began to introduce so many ideas without properly handling them: Illyana as a master of demons, Madelyne as someone who just happened to be a dead ringer for Jean, Magneto as a face turn of sorts. And from all appearances, he simply wasn't willing and able of handling the situation after he lost control of the X-Factor crew and the New Mutants.
I don't think the resolution was particularly succesfull, but it was probably far better than a later resolution would turn out to be.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 9, 2014 11:05 PM
A bigger motivation might be that Byrne will use Magneto in his Acts of Vengence storyline (especially during his WCA run.) So I suspect that editorial influence played a bigger part in this than any misgivings Simonson had about Magneto.
But even with all that, Weezie overreaches wildly with these revelations, once again complicating things with unnecessary retcons so a character is Evil All Along instead of just merely having an attitude/motivation change. I don't like just plain throwing intricate character arcs down the garbage (something that, ironically, continues with other Byrne issues down the road.) But this isn't as bad as the Madelyne retcons since Magneto WAS a villain before so this issue just disregards Clatemont's work on the charactet and restores Magneto's former status (with Ms Pryor, Weezie invented a NEW evil characteristic that then superimposed over previous portrayals.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 9, 2014 11:20 PM
Claremont gives Mags a few lines of dialogue with Moira in Uncanny 253 that kind of retcon what Magneto says here and does during Acts of Vengeance. Claremont also, in the 1990 X-Men Annual, has Wolverine tell Jubilee that Xavier trained the X-Men like soldiers, and I wonder now if Claremont wasn't responding to this issue.
I actually like best the Magneto Claremont presents in reaction to his re-vilification. He's like a one-man reverse Thunderbolts: an ex-villain who has noble motives but present himself as a villain to do what the heroes can't and keep the hounds off their scent.
The "mutant factions" thing was a big theme Harras wanted to develop for a couple of years. The Marvel Age Preview one-shot next year refers to it quite often, and you get scattered references throughout the X-books, such as in Uncanny when Alexei Vazhin catalogs the evil mutant factions to Val Cooper. He names Sinister, Apocalypse, the MLF, and the Shadow King. The Marvel Age Preview included both the Hellfire Club and a "renegade" branch if the Club led by Shaw.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 9, 2014 11:21 PM
I agree with fnord here. I have a soft spot for Magneto's attempt at redemption, and it's not so much that it fails that irks me, but more this mess of a retcon that tries to say that he was evil all along, and the whole thing was one big trick (though, even then, there are some strange lines at odds with this here, such as Magneto's dialogue in the second panel of the tenth scan above, where he expressed hope that he could walk the path of peace, which squares with thought bubbles the character had a few years earlier during the start of his redemption phase). Much better to have it that recent events, coupled by his own growing sense of failure to his charges, could have had him reconsider his stance, and, again, some of the dialogue in this issue could be read that way...it really is a most schizophrenic work in ways! Plus he just lets the New Mutants go, and tells them they are always welcome at his side, which is a world away from ranty old Silver Age Magneto, who would either have bound their wills to his via Emma, or been all 'bah! Magneto has no need for such weak-willed followers!". Claremont sort of salvages his motivation later on, but, unfortunately, as the 90s go on he just becomes the Big Bad for the sake of being bad again, perhaps due to editorial mandate. Far better to have even a fully antagonistic Magneto be at least somewhat sympathetic to the X-Men, and be willing to work with them now and then against a common enemy, than have him want to crush them underfoot: likewise, Charles Xavier basically wiping him to a clean slate didn't seem in character at all, but probably fit the 'grim and gritty' 90s ethos. He even did it while wearing that God-awful suit that allowed him to walk which, I think, we never saw again afterwards?
Posted by: Harry | September 10, 2014 7:52 AM
Magneto's moral ambiguity is summed up pretty well by the title given to him in this issue -- "The Grey King"
Posted by: TCP | September 10, 2014 9:15 AM
"Magneto's moral ambiguity is summed up pretty well by the title given to him in this issue -- "The Grey King""
Yet that's another odd thing about this issue. Despite his new title promising "big" things to come, I think this the LAST time Magneto is part of the Hellfire club (which ironically enough became a plot point in a future issue of Captain America.) Kinda weird to set up a big status quo change for the Hellfire Club, and then let it fizzle almost immediately.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 10, 2014 8:23 PM
I've never heard Harras was involved in the "mutant factions" aspect, but it's clearly an interest of Claremont's, who'd been suggesting the dangers of wars between mutants, and nations who utilized their mutants, for quite some time. Genosha is really the only place he explored this idea, but with this issue, it actually makes sense.
Shaw's motivations make perfect sense, as one of the leaders of the mutant-industrial complex. He doesn't want war. He doesn't even want to rule the world. Profit is his motivation and that is best served by Peace. He's got his fingers in every pie. He got Magneto in the Hellfire Club (and by extension, the X-Men, the New Mutants, and Illyana, the one "potentially most likely to serve our interests,") the same people Magneto wanted to use to serve as *his* power base.
But Shaw sees that Magneto's path leads to economic disaster for mutants as well as humans. His "racist zeal" blinds him to the "profit potential humans have to offer." Let them go their own way, and all of us be richer. Shaw still sees the big picture, that X-Factor, Apocalypse, Alpha Flight, the Marauders, Alpha Flight will grow in power, as will Genosha where he has major investments. Not to mention Project Wideawake, where he has major investments. Then there's that interest in Nova Roma too... He may be asking "Where is the danger to us in that?" and you could point out 'dude, right there' but it's not because he doesn't see the bigger picture.
As poorly handled as Magneto's return to villainy is - I too prefer the era where he was genuinely trying to do the right thing after spending so many years doing the wrong thing - but this issue does a better job of setting up the different mutant factions than any part of Claremont's run.
The weird part is, it successfully explains Magneto's transformation into Dean Wormer since Simonsen began writing. He *is* doing this for the New Mutants' benefit, both in this issue and for the overall "Cause He Serves." He wants them to learn from the experience and become better mutants [er, people.]
It's also weird to see John Byrne drawing (post) Claremont characters in a story dealing almost entirely with post-Byrne Claremont X-titles. I doubt there's a connection, but the scans included certainly fit into the 'Byrne doesn't draw backgrounds' stereotype. Maybe he was rushed, maybe he wasn't that interested, maybe it wasn't artistically necessary, I don't know or much care. The worst I can say is it's a refreshing return to normality after Bret Blevins, but it's a shame Warlock is so minimized. You'd think Byrne could have thought of fun things to do with him.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 11, 2014 9:07 PM
I'm not being facetious about that 'artistically necessary' thing, by the way. The entire issue takes place within (what used to be) the walls of the X-Mansion. It's not like he can add buildings in the background, and I can't blame him for not throwing Brightwind's stable in somewhere. [Where was Brightwind during all this, by the way? Did further issues of "New Mutants" ever explain that? He must be hungry, since no one has been around to feed him after the mansion was abandoned.] He draws the destruction, he draws trees out in the distance, he draws the sky that most of the characters are looking up into, what else could he draw for a background? A flock of birds?
Posted by: ChrisW | September 11, 2014 9:22 PM
ChrisW, responding to the least substantial portion of your comments, Brightwind was shown in Excalibur #8, which i've placed before this issue, and i surmise that Dani sent him away before the start of this issue. Next issue we'll see Dani say "At least Brightwind wasn't hurt in the explosion. I'm so glad I found him." and then Cannonball says, "He found you, Dani."
I appreciate your other insights; i just wanted to respond to the direct question!
Posted by: fnord12 | September 12, 2014 1:11 PM
I know the Asgard storyline is coming up and obviously Brightwind plays a role there, but given how abandoned the X-Mansion had become, it's weird that nobody gave any thought to Brightwind once the X-Babies ran off to rescue Sam at the Lila Cheney concert. Magneto did create 'widgets' to tend the grounds (as seen in #48) and perhaps they fed Brightwind, but he's obviously devoting much less time to the X-Mansion these days.
[And what's up with that? Illyana was most likely to serve the Hellfire Club's goals, but possessing one of the Valkyries' winged stallions is nothing? If Shaw knew enough about Illyana to complain that she was suddenly an easily-corruptible child, he would have known enough to ask where the Asgardian horse was and how it was doing. I'm blanking on where, but he'd compared himself to Thor at one point. How does Shaw keep track of his other industries?]
Posted by: ChrisW | September 12, 2014 7:17 PM
In addition to taking place entirely within the X-Mansion, this issue also takes place entirely in real time. That's an innovation I can't recall any other comic book (Marvel or otherwise) doing before. Not saying there weren't any, but I don't know about them.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 12, 2014 7:21 PM
Chris, what do you mean by "real time"? Because when we say that 24 takes place in real time, we mean that for every hour that passes for the readers, an hour passes for the characters. There's no set amount of time that it takes to read a comic.
Posted by: Michael | September 12, 2014 7:32 PM
I think that fnord's and my reactions to X-Factor 38 and New Mutants 75 illustrate something- a contradiction that not's explicitly explained is objective but whether or not the reader will accept the story is subjective. Fnord writes "the explanations given here aren't all that convincing or don't jive so much with what we seemed to see at the time" and " it's harder to square the things Magneto is saying with what we've actually seen". But I felt the same way about Maddie- that it was impossible to square what Simonson was saying with how Maddie had been portrayed. Fnord disagreed, but fnord WASN'T arguing that there weren't seeming contradictions or that I missed a line that explicitly explained them. Rather, he was arguing that the reader could infer or invent explanations from what we'd been told on the page.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2014 2:53 PM
What really confuses me besides that huge wall of text Michael posted is why the New Mutants didn't tell Magneto that the X-Men were alive. I mean doesn't that basically mean it took him until he encountered Rogue to learn the truth? I can understand that the NM were mad at him but this is pertinent information. Unless he found out during Inferno and I'm missing something.
Posted by: AbeLincoln1865 | September 13, 2014 6:01 PM
Sorry if I posted to much but the reason why the New Mutants didn't tell him any secrets about the X-Men is that he was launching into a big speech about how he was always evil. After that, it's understandable that they didn't trust him.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2014 6:20 PM
How did I forget about that? To be fair they only saw Colossus and not the rest of the X-Men. Illyana might have told them about encountering Colossus before when she thought he was a zombie back in Uncanny X-Men #231. Now that I think of it, if the NM had told Magneto that the X-Men were alive while he was making his speech things might have turned out differently. I'm also sure Michael, that Simonson was intending for Magneto to suffer from bipolar disorder not MPD. In fact thats how he kinda ended up when Claremont was forced off the book.
Posted by: AbeLincoln1865 | September 13, 2014 6:57 PM
During the brief period where the X-Men were officially dead, I have no real objection to how they kept that status. I think Betsy mind-wiping people is a bad idea, but that's where the team was at and that's where they were going, and it works on that level. Illyana assumed Peter was a zombie. She never told her teammates about him because she's got so many secrets already, so what's one more?
Michael, by "real time" I mean that the issue takes place in roughly the same amount of time as it takes to read. There are no "Meanwhile" captions, or "Later..." or anything to break the flow. The wonders of the comics medium make the only reasons why this issue doesn't take any more time from its characters than it does to read. I may be forgetting a scene change to Asgard, Nova Roma or something like that, but otherwise, this issue takes place entirely within the (destroyed) X-Mansion, and there are no "An hour later" captions to spread it out. The entire comic book took place within the same amount of time that it took you to read it. That's "real time." An hour per page doesn't figure into it, especially since that doesn't happen in this comic. This was maybe a half-hour of the New Mutants' lives. The amount of time it took you to read Dani, Sam, Roberto or Magneto's dialogue, that's the amount of time this issue lasted.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 13, 2014 11:14 PM
Abe, I was being sarcastic with the MPD comment about how Magneto's dialogue this issue contradicts his thought balloons in previous issues.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2014 11:15 PM
I have been very critical of Inferno, but I don't think it had much of a choice. Solving the Illyana and Maddie/Jean conundrums would have to disappoint in some way - and I think Claremont knew that. What could he possibly do with Illyana once he had established her unlikely concept?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 13, 2014 11:30 PM
Like fnord, I much preferred the era where Magneto was taking a different path, so I really hated this issue. But, in his next appearance in an X-book, Claremont will basically wipe out part of this anyway, when Magneto has his confrontation with Moira.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 22, 2015 9:44 AM
I'm one of the select few (which also include John Byrne and Grant Morrison) who think Magneto is an evil bastard and not a hero.
So I love this issue.
Posted by: AF | January 20, 2016 1:22 PM
I was going to say it's odd how fast Magneto understands and accepts that Illyana has been reduced to childhood, but then I remembered that he could give her tips on how to handle it.
Posted by: Andrew | July 16, 2017 9:55 AM
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|