New Mutants #90-91
Issue(s): New Mutants #90, New Mutants #91
Caliban, hunting Sabretooth, hears the attack.
Meanwhile, it seems that X-Factor were ok with just sending their wards off with some guy they never heard of (or maybe, like everyone else in this book, they also have a secret history with Cable and think he's awesome). On Jean & Cyclops' (off panel) suggestion, they go to the remains of Charles Xavier's mansion.
The plan is for Cable and the New Mutants to hole up in the sub-basement.
Cable has already taken charge of their studies.
As part of their directive to create new costumes for themselves, Cannonball designs a pair of goggles that are completely unnecessary but "look cool".
Rictor is not impressed with any of this, and it comes out that he knows Cable, but won't say what the story is.
A few art notes on the above panel. Check out Rahne and Boom Boom's weird legs. And note the repeated image of Rictor. That's a common device in Manga, and in fact the image looks a little Manga-ish. We've also seen it used in Marvel comics by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz and others, usually on more experimental stuff. It's usually used to illustrate the unchanging nature of one character in contrast to those around them, but that's not really the case here.
Anyway, here's the new costumes:
Ok, just kidding. Those are just exercise clothes for a Danger Room training session.
During the fight, Rictor feels that he's being treated unfairly and deliberately put in a situation like one that got his father killed while Cable was on a mission with him. So he storms off, with the intention of going into the Morlock tunnels to prove himself. The tunnels are built up to be a place of horror full of deranged Morlocks. Cable is actually completely unaware of the situation with Rictor's father.
I do like the scripting here. Instead of going into a histrionic rage at Rictor's insubordination, Cable thinks things through reasonably. Note also the reference to Cable's son.
Here are the costumes for real this time.
No, seriously, i'm not joking.
Rahne finds out that Rictor has gone into the tunnels. They tell Cable, and come to him, fully dressed in their new costumes. He tells them "be at the tunnel entrance in five minutes". Five minutes?! Why not go now?! Rictor is in danger! Does Cable have to go to the bathroom or something?
In the tunnels, Rictor meets Caliban, who has changed since they last met. Another decently scripted scene.
And then Sabretooth gets involved as well.
Meanwhile, Cable is still doing whatever back in the basement...
...but they finally go after Rictor.
There's not enough mercy in the world for all of this.
Sabretooth is winning the fight in the sewers, thanks in part to the magic gourd that he keeps in his pants.
But Caliban assumes Liefeld Pose #1, evening the odds.
Cable and the New Mutants, meanwhile, have a brief encounter with Masque and his remnants of the Morlocks, but they let them pass.
They then find Rictor and see that he's injured.
So Wolfsbane assumes Liefeld Pose #1 as well (there really is no Pose #2).
Wolfsbane is no match for Sabretooth. Liefeld is at his best depicting feral man-beasts fighting each other.
Earlier, Cable was impressed with the New Mutants, but now he's saying that it's been so long since they've had any "qualified" training that they're not doing so good.
Sabretooth gets Rictor alone during the fight, but Rictor starts using his powers and... oh dear.
At this point, and i know that this is a fine distinction, the art seems to go into decline. It's almost like the inker died of exhaustion and now there's just no facial detail anymore.
Masque and his Morlocks show up again and get into an argument with Caliban over who gets to kill Sabretooth, but Caliban, in his new intimidating incarnation, wins out.
Having rescued Rictor, the New Mutants ought to be returning to the X-Basement. But Cable is like, dude, this is too cool to not watch.
Sabretooth's neck is snapped, seemingly killing him. But he's "died" before...
As they leave, Caliban thinks to himself that "the day is coming when Cable and his flock will participate in a trial by fire at my hands". Geez, Caliban. What happened to you?
"Days later", as Rictor is recovering from his injuries, he sees Cable fighting in the Danger Room, going through the same sequence that he was forced through. And Rictor admires him for, "even at his age", never giving up, and he decides that he respects Cable after all and he's going to stick around.
For better or worse, this is a very straightforward story. There are no subplots or supporting characters. There's a little bit of drama in Rictor's father's past history with Cable, but beyond that these issues are just very quickly moving to a new status quo and then living in it. That plus the "kewl" fights would make this comic a lot more accessible than the current X-Men books, which are mired in backstory. On the other hand, there isn't a lot of content per issue and the artwork is getting to be a hot mess even if you've got one of the rare recessive gene that causes you to like Liefeld's style.
Notice that Fabian Nicieza scripted issue #91. This isn't the start of his run, though. Next issue is a fill-in with none of these creators, and then Louise Simonson returns for another five issues (three of which, granted, are part of the next X-crossover). But i suspect that Nicieza's contribution to issue #91 signals that the problems that Simonson was having with editor Bob Harras changing her scripts have started, if that wasn't already the case.
I originally had issue #89 merged with this entry but split it out for placement purposes. Just noting that since some of the Comments below will reflect on issue #89 as well as these two.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Sabretooth and Caliban appear here after X-Factor #53. This arc also has to take place after Uncanny X-Men #263-264 due to the reference below (and therefore after X-Factor #54 as well).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Cable and the New Mutants TPB
Inbound References (3): showBoom Boom, Cable (Adult), Caliban, Cannonball, Hump, Masque, Rictor, Sabretooth, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane
"Geez, Caliban. What happened to you?"
Posted by: clyde | April 21, 2015 3:04 PM
It's rather disturbing how readily X-Factor let the kids up and leave with this heavily-armed stranger, and even suggested they go live back in X-Factor's old house. It doesn't look like they even said 'be sure to keep in touch.'
Then again, none of them checked in on Moira and Sean. Jean herself was the only one who even bothered to look at the mansion after it blew up. Those are some loyal graduates Xavier has there. Heck, it's par for the course. They know Alex died fighting the Adversary, but never asked what happened to Lorna until they met during "Inferno." Do they know or care what Kitty, Kurt, and that strange redhead who started calling herself "Phoenix" are doing these days?
Then there's Magneto. Has anybody from the mutant titles seen Magneto lately? Not since they saw him visiting the Hellfire Club, and the New Mutants (including Boom Boom and Rictor) saw him bargaining with a demon during "Inferno." Nothing suspicious there.
I've been kinda harsh on how much harder the X-Men made things for themselves with their secrecy and lack of interest in anybody but themselves, but X-Factor sure gave them a run for their money. And so did the New Mutants.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 21, 2015 3:31 PM
Liefeld Pose #1...classic.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 21, 2015 4:51 PM
Back in the day a friend of mine told me that everyone but the readers knew who Cable was.
I thought he was exagerating. I know better now.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 21, 2015 6:04 PM
"And note the repeated image of Rictor. That's a common device in Manga, and in fact the image looks a little Manga-ish. We've also seen it used in Marvel comics by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz and others, usually on more experimental stuff. It's usually used to illustrate the unchanging nature of one character in contrast to those around them, but that's not really the case here."
No, here it just illustrates the unchanging nature of Rob Liefeld's laziness.
"Liefeld is at his beast depicting feral man-beasts fighting each other." Intentional pun?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 21, 2015 7:12 PM
"Beast" was unintentional. Fixed it; thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2015 7:37 PM
Fnord, I think that New Mutants 89 needs to be split from New Mutants 90-91. For starters, Quasar 8 features Cannonball, Sunspot and Warlock, Cable is referenced as the New Mutants' leader and it takes place in X-Factor's headquarters. So it probably takes place in between New Mutants 89-90, although I suppose you could say that the New Mutants went back to X-Factor's headquarters for some reason.
Posted by: Michael | April 21, 2015 8:09 PM
One aspect I like about this site is that fnord12 post scans along with the analysis. So I direct you to study Rictor in the top half of fnord's write-ups and compare it to the bottom half and then play "spot the difference."
Other changes of note: From this point on, ANY character with claws will begin to resemble Wolverine. Note that Sabertooth and Wolfsbane each get their own Wolver-do. This is also the point where Rahne becomes increasingly aggressive in her wolf forms, despite not really being so on the past. Finally Liefeld seems to have "forgotten" that the the team members aren't 25 year-olds, and quite a few letters at the time comment on how "mature" the cast has gotten suddenly (as, again, the scans here can attest to.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | April 21, 2015 8:54 PM
@Michael, yeah, when i first saw the footnote to UX #263 i thought it was a mistaken reference to #254 when Callisto went to check on the Mansion. Then i almost put the brakes on the review when i realized they really did mean #264 and i haven't done the analysis on those X-Men issues yet, but i figured i'd just keep going with it and i'd split it out if need be, which sounds like it'll be the case. Which means people will have to go to a different entry instead of the top of the page to do the comparison Jon suggests. I'll break it up when i get to the issues you mention.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2015 9:25 PM
When I first read issue 90, I thought Cable was Rictor's grandfather.
Posted by: Michael | April 21, 2015 9:55 PM
When we finally see Rictor's father's death, it bears no resemblance to the scene in the Danger Room.
Posted by: Michael | April 22, 2015 7:50 AM
"...to the point where they're unaware that their world is being invaded by tic-tac-toe creatures from another dimension." LOL. I would love to see a parody of Dark Age comics where two characters break the fourth wall and start actually playing tic tac toe games with cross hatchings.
Posted by: EHH | April 24, 2015 1:26 PM
You many need to put a break between issues 89 & 90 here because they mention Jean's run in with the Morlocks in The Uncanny X-Men #261-264 taking place before this. Forge & Banshee were using the school sub-basements up until The Uncanny X-Men #263 they teamed up with X-Factor in The Uncanny-X-Men #264 & X-Factor #57.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 24, 2015 10:47 PM
Jay, you must be doing some drive-by commenting. ;-) See comments from Michael and me above.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 25, 2015 1:29 AM
Serves me right for not reading through all the comments! Lol! Duh.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 27, 2015 12:25 PM
So Sunspot wears a woman's swimsuit to work out?
and those poses! Yeek!
I'll never, to my dying day, understand how Liefeld art became a thing.
Posted by: Bob | April 29, 2015 5:20 AM
Sabretooth and Wolfebane have hair by A Flock of Seagulls.
Posted by: Bob | April 29, 2015 5:22 AM
Yeah, this is the issue where Rictor suddenly goes from wearing a vest and no shirt to wearing a shirt and no vest. I assume that's what Jon Dubya is referring to.
But this also seems to be the point where Liefeld decides that when Rahne isn't a wolf, she's an elf. I went back and checked to be certain, but this really does seem to be the first time where she has pointed ears while in human form. I can't imagine the thinking in Liefeld's head that made him drop her from the team, unless it's that she's too innocent for what he had planned for X-Force. Or maybe thought was beyond him.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 5, 2015 12:27 PM
@Eric: I think I read somewhere (was it on here?) that Rahne was actually in consideration for Liefeld's X-Force, but she was claimed by Peter David for X-Factor first, thus the need to create Feral.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 5, 2015 3:18 PM
Thanks, Ataru. That's too bad. I don't think there's ever been another run on a series where I so enjoyed the writing and so loathed the art as that run on X-Factor.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 5, 2015 6:35 PM
Is Rictor using his powers to battle Sabretooth, or just really fighting off the effects of an especially potent breakfast burrito?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 10, 2015 3:46 PM
Rictor picks strange times to take off his jacket and put on a sleeveless shirt in this issue, and then take the shirt off and put his jacket back on. It's mostly just for one panel (as in the "Don't laugh at me, you animal" scene showed here) and we never even see him changing.
I don't know why, but I've been re-reading the first five "New Mutants" issues with Cable, and they really do suck.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 12, 2016 4:00 AM
Fabian Nicieza scripted issue 91 from Louise Simonson's plot.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 23, 2017 6:31 AM
I don't know why, but I've been re-reading the first five "New Mutants" issues with Cable, and they really do suck.
I just reread 88-89 on a whim and found it a little dopey how Moira was so easily persuaded by Cable to let Rahne stay with the group. But the sad thing is, these are probably the best comics Liefeld has ever done just because he couldn't run wild with his own "introduce a new group of rip-off characters every five pages" nonsense.
Posted by: iLegion | June 25, 2017 8:34 PM
@Brian, i did mention Nicieza's scripting but neglected putting him in the credits. Thanks!
Posted by: fnord12 | June 28, 2017 9:39 PM
Rictor managed to grow his hair a lot between #89 and #90.
It feels unnatural to me the way the New Mutants (with the exception of Rictor) are blindly following Cable as if he's their mentor for a long time...they hardly know the man.
Posted by: Bibs | December 23, 2017 5:41 PM
Just like Wolverine, Moira and Freedom Force all had some prior knowledge of Cable despite these characters being around for 10-15 years at this point and Cable being a newcomer. It's Mary Sue writing.
In the issues leading up to Cable's first appearance (during the
Posted by: iLegion | December 23, 2017 10:49 PM
There's actually some semblance of good ideas in these early Cable issues, but they are simply not developed. Liefeld just doesn't have the craft or self-discipline to set up all the necessary building blocks. He's working on the Ed Wood school of pacing. I imagine if Shooter was still EiC, he'd have given Liefeld many lectures on storytelling, and most likely kept him off the books until he heeded those lessons.
Posted by: Chris | December 24, 2017 12:45 AM
That always bothered me too. I already hated Liefeld's art, but the characters just changed. Cable was imposed as the leader, and the kids as we'd known them for however many issues should have been opposed to that. Magneto might as well have trained a Baby Brotherhood for all the effort it took Cable to turn these kids into terrorists.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 24, 2017 12:49 AM
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