New Mutants #92
Issue(s): New Mutants #92
I originally thought this was Bob Hall - who is the credited artist for this issue. This is a fill-in with a framing sequence and i assumed that the frame was Hall drawing in 1990 trying to match the Liefeld style. But thanks to some sleuthing from Brian Saunders in the Comments, it turns out the framing sequence was really penciled by Alan Kupperberg.
In any event, this is just a silly fill-in. One funny thing is the note on the cover apologizing for spoiling the ending. Skrulls start getting mentioned about halfway through the story, so it doesn't really seem like that much of a spoiler, although it's possible they adjusted the script knowing the cat was already out of the bag. Since Rob Liefeld drew the cover, it would be funny to think that he's somehow responsible for the spoiler, but that wouldn't really make sense; if he wasn't drawing this issue, he probably didn't have the plot and someone would have had to have told him what to draw.
In the framing sequence, Cable is in a training session with Wolfsbane, and he runs a Danger Room sequence involving a giant clown, which causes her to freak out. Clowns are terrifying, so it seems reasonable to me that freaking out is a perfectly natural response, but Cable knows that Rahne's freakout is specifically because she's still upset about what sounds like a Hardy Boys book: The Case of the Corrupted Carnival.
We then flash back to some time after Inferno, when some of the New Mutants were visiting a carnival near where Cannonball grew up. It's worth observing that the team - Cannonball, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Rictor, and Boom Boom - just so happens to exclude the characters that aren't part of the present day team (Dani Moonstar, Rusty, Skids, and even Warlock) even though at the time this takes place they all would have been around (not that they had to go to the carnival, of course).
Things immediately get weird when all the animals come over to say hello.
But it's more sinister than just some overly friendly animals.
And after a little more weirdness, Rictor and Rahne get shrunk down by a clown (hence the giant clown in the beginning). The clown announces that he and his companions are really Skrull slavers.
That's on page 13. There isn't a dramatic moment where the characters switch back into Skrull form, because this takes place while the Skrulls are still trapped in whatever form they were in when they lost their powers. So there are Skrulls permanently stuck as clowns, carnival barkers, lions, etc.. Even a mouse.
The other New Mutants are still exploring the carnival, and they discover some other prisoners. Looks like at least one Asparagus Head (or Broccoli Head?) survived the Dark Phoenix's destruction of their home world.
Eventually all the New Mutants learn that the place is full of Skrulls.
I don't know what this line means about the Clown saying he'd enjoy assuming Boom Boom's form. Not something sexual, i hope.
The Mutants then have to fight their way through the Skrulls.
There are at least two Skrulls in their actual Skrull forms. One of them was either miscolored when he appeared earlier, when the Mutants still thought he was part of the carnival attractions...
...or he's supposed to be blue and he's miscolored green at the end.
(Or there's a green one and a blue one that both like wearing hats).
When the ruckus attracts the police, the Skrulls escape the planet, although they leave the Skrull-mouse behind.
Makes you wonder how many humans got enslaved by the Skrulls before the New Mutants came along if they'd been stuck in their carnival forms since the 1985 publication year.
Now, it's not that this experience made Rahne afraid of clowns (which kind of makes the whole set-up over the top). Her problem boils down to "if even carnivals can be taken over by Skrulls, is there any hope for innocence in the world?". And Cable's response is basically a pretty hilarious, "Well, no. There isn't." But then he goes on to tell Rahne to go ahead and hold on to her innocence, even as an evil Skrull-mouse lurks nearby.
What a silly, goofy story. I mean you'd think that taking a break from Rob Liefeld would be a good thing. But at least the Liefeld book wasn't treating the characters like little children and giving them kiddie plots. I know Louise Simonson didn't write this issue, but reportedly the pull between her and Liefeld was about whether the New Mutants would be struggling with their adolescent identity or if they'd grown up enough by now (it is issue #92, after all) that they'd taking on a more active role as a modern version of the X-Men. A story about a Corrupt Carnival and Rahne's loss of innocence fits squarely in the former category. Again, not saying Simonson wouldn't have done it better. But as a basic status for the characters, it was time to move on from stuff like this. If anything, and i know i'm way over-analyzing a fill-in at this point, it's a shame that what was taken from the popularity of Liefeld was the superficial and terrible art style instead of the status quo change.
Oh, here's your Rob Liefeld fix.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I don't try to place flashbacks specifically, but i do try to make sure that they'll broadly fit somewhere, when it's possible to accommodate them. And there definitely seems to be time after Inferno but before Silver Surfer #27, when the Skrulls regain their shape-shifting powers, where this story could fit. And since restoring the shape-shifting power seems to be a slow and manual process for Empress S'Byll, this could even take place after Silver Surfer #27.
In terms of placement, though, it doesn't matter and this just fits sequentially for the New Mutants series.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
That Liefeld pin-up... pretty much all the characters look terrible... except Warlock. He draws a pretty good Technarch.
Posted by: Berend | May 8, 2015 11:43 AM
Cable borrowed those shoulder pads from Bea Arthur. And why did Liefeld put an oven mitt on one of his teeny tiny hands?
The saddest example of a veteran artist adopting the Image schlock style has to be when Herb Trimpe's art took a grotesque turn on the abysmal Fantastic Force.
Posted by: Bob | May 8, 2015 4:42 PM
I find it odd that Rusty and Skids are wearing the "New" New Mutant uniform, even though they were written out of the book. Did Liefeld or Simonson have plans to bring them back into the fold? Odd, since later on, post X-tinction Agenda, we'd have Cable stating he didn't really give a damn about Rusty and Skids. Or did Rob just create costumes for EVERY member of the team, regardless of whether they'd actually rejoin or not?
Also note that Rictor STILL has his Mohawk. Read issues 90-91 again to see why this is amusing.
I partially wonder if part of the reason Liefeld reportedly wanted the cast to "grow up" so it would be more acceptable to draw everyone as if they were 25.
Bob was the example you mention the era of the Invisible Woman's infamous "Image" costume?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 8, 2015 6:21 PM
I remember there was an issue of Marvel Age previewing Liefeld's new New Mutants look with a bunch of sketches of the various characters. I don't remember if Rusty or Skids were in there. There was an sketch of Cougar, but apparently Liefeld decided to hold onto that character and used him later in Image.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | May 8, 2015 11:23 PM
Herb Trimpe actually made a decision to draw in the Image style.
It definitely gave me a better appreciation for his truer style or art.
Check out Savage Dragon #200 for what I believe to be his last art. He penciled and inked two stories (Larsen inked and penciled the respective stories).
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 9, 2015 12:10 PM
I think Herb Trimpe was Liefelding it up in Fantastic Four Unlimited, not FanForce (which was Bastianoni I believe, I wonder what happened to him).
It was definitely in the era where Sue had her 4-boobs-cutout: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/ffunlimited4-3_600x895.jpg
The faces and feet are terrible and hard to reconcile with his classic art (because I agree with Bob, it became grotesque). All the extra lines are typically Liefeld.
I seem to remember that Trimpe did say somewhere, as Vin said, that he chose to do it like this because otherwise he wouldn't get assignments. Which sounds baffling to me, because he so rocked: http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/comicsalliance.com/files/2015/04/trimpe-hulk-umbu.jpg
The nice thing about comics is that he'll always be with us :)
Posted by: PeterA | May 10, 2015 4:36 AM
I hate to say this but I actually like Boom-Boom in Liefeld's pin-up...then again her eyes are covered up in glasses and her feet are deliberately hidden, so it doesn't look like his "work". Warlock just looks off here, but I guess I go back to earlier renditions and see how wild he can be drawn.
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 10, 2015 6:24 AM
Is that purple alien a miscolored Snark from Power Pack?
A few years later Bob Hall would change his style again to copy Frank Miller's art on Sin City. Miller later stated in a Sin City letters page that he was thoroughly displeased with it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 10, 2015 11:32 AM
I wondered if that was a Snark too, Mark. The face looked wrong, but i guess that could be attributed to art style.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 10, 2015 12:07 PM
I asked Trimpe about it at a convention once. He said something along the lines of "They wanted us to draw like that." Which could be interpreted that Marvel pressured them to change, yet it was still his choice ultimately.
And, I stand corrected by Vin, it was FF Unlimited. The pain of early 90s FF is hard to keep straight, as I'm still trying to block most of it out.
Posted by: Bob | May 13, 2015 1:45 AM
Yeah, Trimpe's art in FF UNLIMITED--as well as the STARBLAST miniseries towards the end of the QUASAR series--is truly horrifying. Given his excellent work earlier in his career, it is shocking to see just how bad that art is in his 90s work. To this day I look at those issues and go "how could anyone actually get PAID for turning in work like this??".
Posted by: Dermie | May 13, 2015 12:21 PM
To me the pin-up compared to the issue itself just shows that no matter how much you dislike Liefeld, the art imitating his turned out much worse.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 15, 2015 12:00 PM
That is the biggest train wreck of a pin-up I've ever seen. Cable looks like he's wearing one of Ace Frehley's old KISS costumes. Is that a CD player covering his stomach? Those must be the speakers coming out of his shoulders. With the way the bandalero is strapped around his man-region, it's like a futuristic chastity belt! Bet the dogs he stole the spiked collars on his human arm are pissed! The metal band on his left leg must be post-quad surgery support. And all those vials around his waist and right bicep help to make him look like the world's ugliest shooter girl! "You want sex on the beach or a green iguana?"I'll be the first to tell you that Liefeld's ascension came at a time I was working and in college, plus a more active social life than in high school, so my comics buying around this time was self-limited to a few DC titles, and I missed the boat on his "genius". It wasn't until Heroes Reborn when I returned to more regular collecting and saw his work and ran from it like the bag-and-board had anthrax in it! To this day, the only words I can use to describe Rob Liefeld are "How?" and "Why?"
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 3, 2017 10:56 PM
I know I only got around to Cable in my last comment, but for the reasons stated above, he, Warlock and Wolfsbane were the characters I have the most familiarity with. If I recall correctly, Alex Ross' design for Magog in DC's seminal "Kingdom Come" was "inspired" by Cable and similar characters with too many weapons, pouches, etc., that were prevalent at the time, and those characters Ross, along with Mark Waid, held in contempt.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 3, 2017 11:39 PM
@ Brian Coffey -
Oh, but Liefeld's a Legend. Wizard says so!
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 4, 2017 8:49 AM
@Eric Beck- Yes, a legend for being the comics' world's example of the Peter Principle!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 4, 2017 8:56 AM
Say what you will about Liefeld, at least he can draw Cable.
Posted by: iLegion | June 4, 2017 1:15 PM
Geez what happened to Bob Hall. That's terrible work, I'd rather look at Liefeld.
Posted by: MindlessOne | June 10, 2017 9:26 PM
Unless he's retired, Bob Hall still teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He self-published a comic recently. I don't think I've ever met him, but we have mutual friends.
*I know you weren't asking 'what happened to Bob Hall' in that way, I just couldn't resist.*
Posted by: ChrisW | June 10, 2017 11:53 PM
At http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=1308147 and http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=1307687 there are two pages of the framing story of this issue. Although the comicartfans site says it's Bob Hall, the name Alan Kupperberg is printed at the bottom of both pages. I don't believe Bob Hall penciled the pages with Cable on this basis and Mr. Hall was ill-served by credited for the entire issue.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | December 24, 2017 5:54 PM
Really nice catch, Brian. I've updated the credits and entry and added a screenshot with Kupperberg's name in case the comicartfans link rots.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 4, 2018 11:21 AM
Comments are now closed.
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