New Mutants Summer Special #1
Issue(s): New Mutants Summer Special #1
The New Mutants already had an annual this year, so i wonder why Marvel also put out this special (which, for what it's worth, had a $2.95 cover price vs. $2.00 for the annual). If Ann Nocenti had spare cycles, you'd think she'd devote it to the long promised Longshot sequel, especially since the plot of this issue is tailor-made for a Mojo appearance. Longshot had already left the X-Men, so he should have been available, unless Chris Claremont was still staking a claim on him? Longshot won't actually appear again until after Claremont is gone from Marvel.
The most notable thing about this story is that it is overtly, intensely political.
At the end of the issue, Nocenti even name checks Noam Chomsky, along with other media critics/theorists like Ben Bagdikian and Marshall "the medium is the message" McLuhan. That sort of thing was probably lost on anyone coming to this book looking for Bill & Ted style vidiot fun, but anyone hoping for an intelligent political critique was probably disappointed as well, since the actual story here is a chaotic mess. Lots of random moments that in and of themselves are political, but the overall story is incoherent madness. Part of this was probably Bob Harras trying to figure out how to market this story and therefore creating a mismatch, but even if the cover and opening page accurately reflected the political angle, the story itself is too erratic. Nocenti's verbal diarrhea scripting and Blevins' hyperkinetic cartoony style create their own mismatch with the theme anyway.
The main story has Warlock binge-watching television and then detecting an alien broadcast. So he reaches up into space and pulls down a little television man, the "vidiot".
The television man is a reporter fighting against big media and corporate censorship, and he brings the New Mutants (just Wolfsbane, Boom Boom, Sunspot, and Warlock) to his dimension where in theory they help overthrow the corporate overlords...
...but in practice they just run from one crazy thing to the next.
A separate track has Wolfsbane learning that a river on the X-Mansion's grounds is polluted.
She's seen by a bunch of (non-mutant) kids hiding in the woods, who are impressed with her ability to turn into a wolf. So after the New Mutants go on their totally excellent adventure, the kids decide to do something nice for her, and they stage a sit-in at the river, which ultimately attracts media attention and causes the polluting company to clean up its act.
I think - i *think* - the idea is to say that media has the potential for good and bad, and you just have to learn how to use it (i.e., the media is not the message). Whatever the message is, it's completely lost on the New Mutants, who come home to find out about the sit-in and then just sort of shrug their shoulders and go watch Twin Peaks. There's nothing political about them. As far as they're concerned, they went to another dimension and punched some bad guys. All in a days work.
Which is kind of a shame because at this time, under Cable, the New Mutants are theoretically becoming the militant mutant group. Taking to heart some lessons about the media and how it shapes the political discussion would be a great thing for them to do. But that brings me to my final point. This story is completely inconsequential to the larger New Mutants canon. This story doesn't pivot off of anything going on in the New Mutants' book (except their location and costumes) and it won't in any way affect the book going forward. The characters aren't even written consistently with the way they are in the main book. Look at that panel of Boom Boom reacting to Wolfsbane telling her that the river is polluted. Does anyone really think Boom Boom has ever had a deep thought about the worst poisons being invisible?
The story is just a random bit of garbage floating in the ether. We're seeing a lot of that lately. Marvel Comics Presents, the Avengers Spotlight stories, a good percentage of the annual back-ups, stuff like this and the similar Impossible Man special. Stories that have no reason for existing. They're not quality stories in and of themselves, and they have no impact on the larger Marvel story. They're just there. It's understood at this point that Marvel deliberately flooded the market in the 90s to drown out the competition, and usually it's stuff like Darkhawk and Sleepwalker that gets pointed to. But at least those were attempts at creating new characters. I think the real bloating happened in less obvious ways, by pumping out more and more nonsense about characters that already had fanbases, and i think it was a factor that contributed to the eventual burnout that resulted in the market crash.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: The New Mutants are wearing their new costumes, placing this after New Mutants #92.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I think I see some hints of Dr. Seuss references in the art.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 14, 2015 7:44 PM
The scariest part was what a breath of fresh air this comic was at the time compared to the main series. If Rob Liefeld has done nothing else, he gave me a greater appreciation for Bret Blevins.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 15, 2015 11:33 AM
Nocenti said she received a fan letter from Chomsky following publication of this issue.
Posted by: Bob | June 20, 2015 7:45 PM
To save everyone else for doing what I just did, here's the quote:
Richard Meyer: Did you ever get in trouble for being such a liberal (again for the record, I'm pretty conservative but I still loved your stuff)?
Ann Nocenti: I remember after a Captain America story we got a letter that said, "Get the commie off the book." We had a big laugh about that one. Luckily, I had an enlightened editor, Ralph Macchio, so while we had lots of fun conversation about the issues, and he often disagreed with my politics, he let me do what I wanted. He was an extremely supportive and intelligent editor. I also remember once I wrote a New Mutants story about media conglomerates, and the higher powers at Marvel got wind of it before it went to press and cut the print run (uncomfortable with the fact that they were the very thing I was critiquing). So the story was suppressed and not seen by many, but I did get a wonderful letter from Noam Chomsky, the great writer and guru of media analysis, so I was thrilled.
Posted by: cullen | June 21, 2015 12:15 AM
ChrisW, I'm the exact opposite. For me, if there was anything good about Liefeld, it's that he got the series out of the hands of Blevins.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 18, 2015 8:54 AM
For me, it's all hindsight. It took Rob Liefeld to give me appreciation for anything in Blevins' work. And there are things to appreciate. I don't think he was appropriate for "New Mutants," but it was the trend at Marvel, and in hindsight, inevitably led to Liefeld. Looking at his "New Mutants" issues on this website, there are definite virtues. Marvel didn't have a title starring monsters and pretty girls - "Howard the Duck," "Swamp Thing" - but that title would have needed an artist like Blevins.
Like I say, for me it's all hindsight. I despised Blevins on "New Mutants," and when this book came out, after several months of Liefeld, I honestly realized that I didn't know how good I had it. Keeping Jackson Guice and Kyle Baker would have been fine, or June Brigman, but ohmigod, I suddenly realized how much I preferred an artist I despised.
I think we're basically coming to the same conclusion from two completely different directions.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 20, 2015 7:37 PM
Blevins never quite hits the mark for me...I love the loose style and sense of motion but there's just a few too many lines on the faces, or something. I cant quite put out my finger on it.
Posted by: MindlessOne | June 11, 2017 11:13 AM
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