New Mutants: Renewal (Marvel Graphic Novel #4)
Issue(s): New Mutants: Renewal (Marvel Graphic Novel #4)
...Sunspot (transforms into a blobby black shape and gains super-strength)...
...Psyche (later Mirage) (creates illusions in the form of her target's greatest fear)...
...and Wolfsbane (can transform into a wolf, or a half-wolf/half-human)...
...and adds Karma from Marvel Team-Up #100 to the team.
None of the team are given their codenames in this book, except Karma, who already had one.
The team was in part inspired by the fact that Jim Shooter apparently wanted Claremont to return the X-Men to the original concept of a school even though the X-Men had already graduated some time ago. According to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, the creation of a New Mutants series was a way for Louise Simonson and Chris Claremont to head off talk of the creation of a second X-Men book featuring the (surviving) original X-Men. And that will turn out to only delay things for a few years...
Wolfsbane - Rhane Sinclair - is a Scottish orphan that was raised to be very religious. She's brought to the Mansion by Moira. Xavier found out about Karma via contact with Reed Richards. Mirage - Danielle Moonstar - is a Cheyenne whose grandfather was a friend of Xavier's. The grandfather is attacked and killed by Donald Pierce, the Hellfire Club member, who is making a power play to overthrow Shaw and take over the club.
Dani's pet mountain lion (!), Ridge-Runner...
...is also killed.
Xavier, Wolfsbane, and Karma arrive too late to save the grandfather, but they rescue Moonstar. They then split up to get to Pierce's next two targets: Roberto Da Costa - Sunspot - in Brazil, and Sam Guthrie - Cannonball - in Kentucky. Moonstar and Karma save Sunspot, but not before his girlfriend is killed.
And Cannonball is initially recruited into the Hellfire Club...
...but after Pierce is defeated and turned over to Tessa of the Hellfire Club, Xavier recruits Cannonball.
The writing is a little clunky - Rhane's religious aspects are very heavy handed, and the handling of Moonstar's Native American characteristics seem a little racist to me - but it's not terrible, and certainly the concept of a new team of young mutants being recruited by Xavier - who is reluctant to start again after the (apparent) death of his current X-Men - is interesting.
Bob McLeod's art is pretty bad, with a lot of the characters looking downright grotesque. But the designs for the new characters are pretty cool - Sunspot in particular is a unique visual.
There's an interesting subtext behind this, which is that Xavier is actually possessed by a Brood Queen egg right now, and he's actually motivated to recruited young mutants as new egg hosts.
None of that is explicitly referenced in this Novel, but that's definitely the state of things at this time.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Xavier responds to Reed Richards' letter regarding Karma in Uncanny X-Men #165.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
I believe Mirage was called Psyche at this point. Not sure why the name later got changed, but possibly because there was a Jim Shooter-created character by the same name in the Legion of Super-Heroes mythos(which was becoming extremely popular at this time).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2011 12:47 AM
This series was first announced in late 1981 as an unnamed monthly book that would feature teenage mutants who had already appeared in other titles. I'm guessing plans got changed after they couldn't find anyone besides Karma who fit that description.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 21, 2012 9:33 PM
Interestingly enough, DC Comics had a Sunspot of their own who appeared twice in the "Dial H for Hero" strip in Adventure Comics a year and a half before this.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 30, 2012 7:01 PM
I thin there may be another side to Shooter's "back to school" edict. Claremont had a habit of diverting X-Men from its classic themes and villains into space opera and (to a lesser degree) horror. In the year before NM launched, Claremont blew up the school, moved then X-Men to a haunted island, and had them replay variations on "Alien" and "The Empire Strikes Back" for months at a time. The Claremont-Cockrum's run post-150 is, to my mind, the most thematically adrift and boring X-Men would ever be under Chris's pen. Ordering a return to the school at that point, both as setting and as set-up, would have been a wise command.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 16, 2013 11:55 PM
There were a few other kid mutants at this time who might have joined the team, including Willie Evans Jr. and Siryn. Even Madrox might have been young enough.
Why weren't they used? Evans may have been too young, and other established characters might have cluttered the continuity. More importantly, perhaps, right from their introduction in this GN, Claremont is positioning the kids as kids more than superheroes, and perhaps the costumes and superhero pedigree of Madrix and Siryn were disqualifying. Those two characters would remain in limbo pretty persistently until the late '80s, and wouldn't appear in regular series until the early '90s.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 29, 2013 7:02 PM
Bizarrely enough Multiple Man & Siryn appeared in the New Mutants spin-off mini-series "Fallen Angels" together where they were considered "young enough". lol!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 7, 2013 2:56 PM
Interesting that when Grant Morrison makes the X-Mansion into a proper school, he also has it done by a villain possessing Xavier.
Posted by: Berend | February 12, 2014 8:14 PM
This may be a silly question, but who's doing the secretarial work at Xaviers after Shan gets taken away? When he hired her, she and Rhane were the only two who would qualify as students. Then they added the rest of the X-Babies. Then Kitty came back from space, then Amara, Doug and Warlock showed up...
Granted Xavier didn't have much need for a secretary before, but that was a simpler time. There wasn't even a Department of Education until 1980. Those forms won't fill out themselves, never mind overseeing the caretaking of that large estate.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 19, 2015 4:48 AM
Re-establishing the mansion as a school is a good idea and I like the team. However, the need to have personal connections (Rahne being Moira's ward, Xavier knowing Dani's grandfather) are unnecessary and they add back stories that we'd never seen before (Rahne will appear in several Classic X-Men inserts, but this was her first actual appearance).
One thing about Dani zapping her grandfather - she pulls out fears and desires - not the future. How does her grandfather know his fear is to be beaten to death in the manner he will be beaten to death? I'm not sure they ever had Dani able to do that again, though I could be wrong.
@ Walter Lawson - Willie Evans Jr was supposed to be used at one point and he seems to have just been lost in the shuffle until that Iron Man Annual a few years later.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 6, 2015 12:17 PM
In a Wizard interview Louise Simonson said that this was suppose to be the first issue of the regular title. It got bumped up to graphic novel status because there was a schedule for printing them at the time (which might explain some of the later novels) and Shooter needed a book for the next slot.
Posted by: Tenzil | July 26, 2015 2:21 AM
Just found this site and loving it. And while I've never been too fond of Bob McLeod's art, to call it "pretty bad" seems really exaggerated. He's got clear lines, detailed backgrounds, a good sense of fight choreography and panel layout. His faces are distinct, and perhaps a little too detailed, but it definitely makes his style unique and his characters individualized. I'm honestly more surprised than anything that the art was called pretty bad given a lot of the other artwork from the period; he seems like solid middle-upper tier, while definitely not within the leagues of Byrne/Smith/Miller.
Posted by: Charles Roig | January 11, 2016 4:23 PM
I rather like McCleod's work here. It's just fun and unique looking. I guess a B - grade is appropriate though.
Posted by: Yogi deadhead | January 12, 2016 5:35 AM
The panel where Xavier is taken aback by Mirage's choice of uniform almost looks like some of Jeffrey Brown's work. It obviously isn't, but I get the idea that McLeod's faces kind of look grotesque.
Posted by: Mark Black | January 12, 2016 9:38 AM
This, I believe, was the third appearance of Tessa, and the first issue where it was hinted that there was far more to her than meets the eye. You'd think that Pierce wouldn't have bothered to keep her hostage since she seemed human at this time, but since he knew she was a mutant, and because of her closeness with Shaw, he kept her around. This story also featured the first on-panel encounter between Professor X and Tessa. While it seems here that Professor X didn't trust Tessa, he obviously did, as he let her have Pierce, and she kept her word in regards to dealing with him.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 23, 2016 11:51 AM
This is probably where Claremont started filling in Tessa's backstory. I don't recall if she said or did anything important in "X-Men" #151-52, but before that she was a generic brunette Hellfire Club wench, there for eye candy and nothing else. This is the first time she ever actually did anything of note, even if that was just to be a damsel-in-distress and then tie up a couple loose ends.
And why she was used was probably simple arithmetic. Can't use Shaw, he's the guy Pierce is going after. Can't use Emma, she is/will be one of Mastermind's victims. Can't use Leland, he's basically a joke. And all three of them would have issues with Xavier that couldn't be resolved with a minor diplomatic slight-of-hand the way Tessa does here. The Hellfire Club has already had a blonde and a redhead, might as well bring in the brunette, which foreshadows Selene's appearance.
I doubt there were any real plans for Tessa at this point, but it's a good example of Claremont building up even the bit characters. Why wouldn't the Hellfire Club bring in as many unobtrusive mutants as they could find to act as servants?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 23, 2016 11:43 PM
Agreed about there being no real plans for Tessa at that point and that he was just starting to build her up. At that time, he had all the time in the world. As things progressed, he did do more with her, like in #189 and #208-209.
Sage/Tessa is my favorite X-Man, and it's nice that she had such a long history, with Claremont mostly doing all the work on her more complex personality. To think she first appeared in a scene where she was quietly placing a robe on Shaw, nothing more.
I was happy when Greg Pak brought her back in X-TREME X-MEN volume two. She's out there somewhere, waiting patiently for Claremont to resume work with her on whatever may come next with him. I was just thinking this morning he should do an X-TREME X-MEN FOREVER mini-series.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 24, 2016 9:43 AM
Wolfsbane (Latin for "I kill wolves") joins Gorgon, Paladin, and the Living Tribunal in the league of inappropriately named Marvel characters...
Posted by: Andrew | February 6, 2017 7:46 PM
Well, Paladin is likely named for the character on Have Gun - Will Travel, rather than the knights of Charlemagne (of course the TV Paladin named himself after the knights). The TV Paladin was a gentleman gunfighter who was a mercenary to solve problems for people who needed a heavy. And that is pretty much what Marvel Paladin does.
Wolfsbane as a name for a character who turns into a wolf is pretty boneheaded though.
Posted by: Chris | February 6, 2017 9:47 PM
Whoever came up with the name probably just thought it sounded cool and superhero-worthy.
I like the name, evento though it doesnt't make sense on giving it to a werewolf type of character
Posted by: Bibs | July 10, 2017 4:38 AM
Sage's retcon is why I stopped reading X-Men forever. Good grief.
Posted by: Adam Dale | July 10, 2017 8:12 AM
And I can't tell if these Sage fans are just taking the piss...I don't get what there is to like.
Posted by: Adam Dale | July 10, 2017 8:14 AM
Exiles managed to run for 100 issues and then didn't last much longer after Sage was added to the cast.
Posted by: AF | July 11, 2017 7:22 AM
Claremont also writes Tessa as being sympathetic to the New Mutants, and helpful to Magneto, in NM #54. This was one long-running subplot.
Posted by: James | July 11, 2017 9:04 AM
I just find her incredibly boring, with crappy powers and zero personality. The idea that this dud was an original X-Man is an incredibly destructive offense to the narrative.
Posted by: Adam Dale | July 11, 2017 10:34 AM
Tessa's original role seemed merely to serve as this non-physical henchwoman to Shaw. That allowed 1) Shaw to seem more like a leader and thus why he's in charge of the club, 2) allow exposition to be less clumsy because while she's explaining things to Shaw, it would be explained to the readers as well, 3) artificially inflate a threat by having Tessa say it was, and 4) allow back and forth dialogue between Shaw and someone else so it wasn't Shaw monologuing in speech or thought balloons. She was a storytelling device, not an actual character. She could have become a real character, but that should have been based on building on what's already been established, not say it was all a con.
Claremont introducing this backstory to her is one of those things Claremont did way too often. It was such an obvious retroactive change that it made little sense. Claremont has tremendous strengths as a writer, but he indulges himself way too much on certain concepts that - because of him - have become cliches and stereotypes.
Posted by: Chris | July 11, 2017 3:11 PM
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