New Mutants #86
Issue(s): New Mutants #86
If you're looking at the above scan and thinking to yourself, i know those two guys are old, but why are they so wrinkly, the answer is that Rob Liefeld has become the regular artist of this series.
Instead of going after Speedball, the Vulture wants to free Nitro, who is about to be put on trial without being released from the canister he's trapped in. It seems Vulture is doing it more to get some glory for himself, rather than because of the injustice of Nitro not being present at his own trial.
Rusty and Skids, meanwhile, are still in the prison yard (although based on the coloring, it seems to have gone from day to night between issues). Their actions also aren't entirely motivated by altruism.
There's actually an interesting subtext here. We know that Nitro is completely evil and would indeed start blowing stuff up and escape the second he was let out of his canister. But as a civil rights issue, he has a right to be at his own trial, not locked in a little tube. Meanwhile, Rusty and Skids, to prove their innocence, want to show the world that they are good little mutant lackeys, stopping someone from ensuring that a prisoner doesn't get a fair trial. Again, we know these characters and that's not what's really happening (although Skid's dialogue is getting dangerously close to Brotherhood of Evil Mutant - or maybe i should say Mutant Liberation Front - territory). And Rusty and Skids are also being put in a freedom fighter role because they want to expose the fact that the Inferno babies are being held by the government.
Vulture makes it to the trial and breaks in, grabbing Nitro's canister.
Vulture has the Tinkerer drill a hole in the canister, so that fresh air can get in, allowing Nitro to shake off the gas that keeps him nauseous and blow his way out. Vulture also plans for the Tinkerer to die in an explosion now that Tinkerer knows the secret of his wings.
Then Rusty and Skids show up.
And then Nitro makes his way out. All that time compressed in the canister must have compressed his head, neck and upper body into one big lump.
Nitro has no gratitude for being released, and intends to cause an explosion killing Vulture, Tinkerer, Rusty, and Skids, along with everyone in the court building below. But Skids runs in and absorbs the blast.
It's not what it looks like, but what's supposed to have happened there, according to the text, is that Skids jumped on top of Nitro and compressed his explosion. Maybe a two panel splash page wasn't the best way to demonstrate that. But it turns out that the compression has caused Nitro to disintegrate.
Skids passes out thinking they'll be treated like heroes now. But then, after Vulture and Tinkerer are taken into police custody, Freedom Force shows up.
They are surrounded by the press, and Rusty has an opportunity at this point to do what they intended and tell them about the kidnapped babies, but instead he tries to bargain with that information in return for getting Skids to a hospital. But Freedom Force don't bite, and the Blob punches Rusty out.
Freedom Force then tell the press that Rusty and Skids were helping the Vulture release Nitro, and that they (Freedom Force) are the real heroes for stopping them.
A few pages of this issue are devoted to showing the New Mutants in Asgard recovering from their injuries and learning that they can't go home because the Rainbow Bridge has been destroyed. And at the end we're introduced to some new characters.
It's said that there are six of them even though we can see seven. Maybe that "flesh and blood" line was meant as a qualifier, since Zero will turn out to be a robot.
After they set off their explosion, a mysterious armored man calls and takes credit for it, saying that they are the Mutant Liberation Front and that they'll continue blowing stuff up until Rusty and Skids are freed.
Then our next issue blurb shows some weird looking guy with a glowing eye.
This book was in desperate need for a change, especially after the interminable Asgard act, and really even prior to that. With next issue we'll have that change, but it actually begins here, with the political/militant themes in both the Vulture/Nitro story and the Freedom Force conspiracy, and also in the epilogue with the MLF. The Vulture storyline is actually pretty terribly rendered and it would have been really nice if Liefeld had started one issue later, allowing some dependable fill-in artist to render this Acts of Vengeance issue in a more classic Marvel house style. Even understanding what she had to work with here, i also don't think Louise Simonson did all that well with the Vulture. I don't like the idea that he'd ever consider killing the Tinkerer (as an aside, the cover for this issue is an homage to the opening splash page of Amazing Spider-Man #2, the first appearance of both the Vulture and the Tinkerer), and his motivation for freeing Nitro seems confused. The Vulture is a cunning guy that has managed to get by by keeping a low profile. But despite that and Liefeld's art, i liked this issue a lot better than the preceding Asgard arc.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Uncanny X-Men #255. Presumably takes place before Blob, Pyro, and Avalanche (who doesn't appear here; he's presumably recovering from injuries in UX #255) decide that they are free agents in Avengers #312 (and Punisher #29), although they will be back with Freedom Force for next issue. The Tinkerer is said to be taken to prison here, which might seem like it should affect his appearances in Alpha Flight #79 and Rick Mason, the Agent, but even if you ignore those appearances, his next appearance in Captain America #369 shows him out of prison (with no reference to being imprisoned), so it really doesn't matter. I guess either there wasn't enough evidence to hold him or, considering how villains are breaking out of prison during Acts of Vengeance, it's no big deal. I'm not counting the Next Issue blurb image as an appearance of Cable, although the MCP does.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBalder, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Crimson Commando, Eitri, Fandral, Forearm, Hildy, Hogun, Hrimhari, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Nitro, Pyro, Reaper, Rictor, Rusty Collins, Skids, Strobe, Stryfe, Tempo, Thumbellina, Tinkerer, Volstagg, Vulture, Warlock, Wildside, Wolfsbane, Zero
The squinty faces (though with Vulture and Tinkerer, it probably is appropriate being old but still...), the lips on Skids, the diamond feet, the overdone muscularity...yep, we're really hitting the Liefeld this time around, and its only going to get "better".
And look...I have no idea who glowy eye is but shouldn't Scott and Jean be worried about their kid?
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 8, 2015 3:25 PM
Maybe they can send a "cable" to the x-teams for some information on their child.
Posted by: clyde | April 8, 2015 3:28 PM
The Vulture wants to kill the Tinkerer for knowing the secret of his wings? Hate to break it to you Adrian, but about half the people building a power suit in the Marvel Universe know how to incorporate a flying mode. You're not really that special anymore...
Posted by: Berend | April 8, 2015 5:19 PM
This issue shows one of the biggest reasons why New Mutants Annual 5 has to take place before the kids go to Asgard- this issue explicitly takes place after X-Men 255 and by then Storm's a kid.
Posted by: Michael | April 8, 2015 9:25 PM
@Michael: Re: Zero, I suspect android given similar designed robots ended up in Liefeld's early Prophet issues.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 8, 2015 10:09 PM
I did think that scene where Vulture "debates" about Nitro's civil rights was rather bizarre too. I mean we see that both the Vulture and Nitro are simply bring villainous here and are doing what they're doing "for the evilz." But the concept itself IS an intriguing one, since at this point most superhero stories I've seen had the bad guys simply carted off the jail by the hero's so the idea of due process never even entered my mind before now. Of course since Vulture was being insincere, that makes it a moot point this issue, but then I wonder why bring it up in the first place?
I DID feel sorry for Rusty & Skids though. They tried to be heroic for mutantkind, succeed and then failed. In a sense that's the quintessential "mutant" story. This was the book (yes the one with the "awesomely bad" art) that made me idetitify with the plight of mutantkind. It was even slightly more nuanced than the usual X-Men story by having a few humans (like the paramedics) be a bit more sympathetic than usual.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | April 17, 2015 11:09 PM
There's an interesting comment from Rob Lefeld on how he wound up penciling New Mutants here: http://robliefeldcreations.com/secret-origins-of-x-force-deadpool/
Notable: "I spoke to Louise once during our tenure, editorial assumed control of the operations and didn’t encourage talent speaking often if at all."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 20, 2015 2:08 AM
Its interesting reading from Liefeld himself how he ended up on New Mutants, but I think the only thing he sort of was wrong with involved Warlock. The reason Warlock appeared "goofy" is because his main storyline was completed and he just "stuck around" long after that. No one really knew what to do with him so there he was just with the New Mutants as a consistant part of their world, long after Claremont was gone; and that probably is what the harm was more about. (plus I notice that he mentioned Birdbrain but none of the other bizarre stuff after that like Gossamyr or Asgard)
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 20, 2015 8:40 AM
He's definitely exaggerating how bad the sales were. Sales on New Mutants never fell below 182,000. That was bad FOR AN X-BOOK but nowhere near cancellation levels.
Posted by: Michael | May 23, 2015 2:36 PM
I also love how X-Force was the springboard for the new direction. Yes, because Spider-Man #1 and MacFarlane, of course, had nothing to do with that.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 22, 2015 5:46 PM
I actually like Vulture's portrayal, especially since it was around this time writers finally stopped pissing on the character and actually started doing something about making Vulture a credible threat. By making him a murderous old man/thief and not a cranky old thief people laugh at.
Posted by: Jesse Baker | July 7, 2017 4:40 PM
The Vulture was a well-written credible threat under Roger Stern. That portrayal was quite better than this tripe.
Posted by: kveto from prague | July 8, 2017 4:13 AM
I tried. I swear I tried. I started reading Marvel 5 years ago fully knowing I would one day reach this issue. I knew Liefeld's art was awful bit I figured 'maybe his art was better at the start', but alas, no. I got to page 4 and I already quit. Rusty's face, disgusting. Characters that never seem to be standing on the drawn floors, and every character runs like Naruto and at the same time they look like they are skipping because they only have one leg.
I guess this is the end of New Mutants for me.
Posted by: will | December 27, 2017 10:38 AM
Yeah, can't really say you need to stick with Liefeld's conclusion to the series. I'd still read #87 if only because it ends the subplots of Asgard plus Rusty and Skids.
Posted by: iLegion | December 27, 2017 10:36 PM
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