New Mutants #51
Issue(s): New Mutants #51
...but after Bill Sienkiewicz you have to imagine the audience was ready for anything.
Well, maybe not this.
Storywise, this issue does a complete 180 on the relationship between the New Mutants and Professor X. We start with Xavier doing a deeper mind scan of his students to learn about the Mutant Massacre, and he also learns about X-Factor.
Even moreso than i was when Magneto found out that Cyclops was in X-Factor, i'm just incredulous that Xavier does not give his former students the benefit of the doubt here. Claremont of course thinks the initial premise of X-Factor was dumb (as we all do), but couldn't Xavier at least have wondered if there was something more to the set-up than he glimpsed? Does he really think the original X-Men are now passing as humans so that they can hunt mutants?
There's also an irony in the fact that X-Factor hit upon this premise trying to return to the original idea of Xavier's dream.
Anyway, between the Massacre and this, Xavier decides that he needs to return to Earth. But the Starjammer's ship is still badly damaged. So the way home has to be through Limbo, via Magik's teleportation power. The problem is that Illyana has just seen Limbo invaded by Magus and infected with the transmode virus. So she refuses to teleport. And Professor Xavier's solution is to force Karma to possess her.
Conveniently, the Starjammers are then attacked by Shi'ar forces, and it's only Xavier's telepathic powers that can keep the ship dodging their blasts. So he decides to stay after all. But Magik still won't teleport. So Xavier again has Karma possess her and make her teleport the students home.
Considering how spotty Magik's teleportation is under the best of circumstances, it's a miracle that they make it home while she's possessed. But they do. And of course Magik has no love for her teammates at this point.
We've occasionally seen a dark side to Charles Xavier, and it's definitely on display here. The reaction to his actions is surprisingly muted; Dani rebels and of course Illyana does, but the rest of the team doesn't really weigh in, and Sam even gives him a vote of confidence as they are leaving. I don't know if we the audience are supposed to not be repulsed by Xavier's behavior.
Speaking of dark turns, this issue also features Storm and Magneto. We start by seeing Magneto helping protect a community from a flood. The two have the typical conversation about how if the people knew that mutants were helping them, they'd turn on them, but honestly this is exactly the sort of thing the X-Men ought to be doing more often if they want to turn anti-mutant sentiment around.
Instead, Storm encourages Magneto to again "step into the shadows" and accept the invitation of the Hellfire Club to become their White King (creating a replica of his old helmet also forshadows the X-Men vs. Avengers mini-series).
Magneto agrees, but refuses to wear their garb (and demonstrates that, at least by Nowlan's art, he needs to put in some more time in the Danger Room).
And it's actually both Storm and Magneto that jointly are inducted into the White King position.
I'd like to give Claremont the benefit of the doubt and say that he was deliberately writing Xavier to make him look bad, but it's a big change from last issue. If i want to be charitable at all, i'd say that this "special issue" didn't give Claremont the room to explore either Magik's problems or Claremont's reaction to X-Factor properly, so everything is truncated and therefore comes off poorly.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm allowing for an indefinite amount of time to pass between last issue and this one to allow the X-Men series to catch up with this one. Storm appears here between Uncanny X-Men #216 and #219.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBlack King (Sebastian Shaw), Black Queen (Selene), Cannonball, Carol Danvers, Ch'od, Corsair, Cypher, Hepzibah, Karma, Lilandra, Magik, Magma, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Professor X, Raza Longknife, Sikorsky, Storm, Sunspot, Tessa, Warlock, White Queen (Emma Frost), Wolfsbane
Crappy art for then but he would probably be considered a superstar today.
Posted by: Robert | March 19, 2014 3:35 PM
You've let a little too much time pass here... because the next issue is when Sunspot leaves the New Mutants for the Fallen Angels mini-series. X-Factor #17 crosses over with Fallen Angels #3 when Boom Boom leaves X-Factor to rejoin the Fallen Angels there. That means New Mutants #52 has to take place before X-Factor #17.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 19, 2014 5:21 PM
I know, but it's not that simple because X-Factor #17 has tie-ins with Thor and takes place before a number of Avengers appearances and Mephisto vs... #4. So that X-Factor issue may have to span a long period of time. As i've said, all placements surrounding Mephisto are tentative for now.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 19, 2014 5:42 PM
I'm wondering why Professor X says "those five" to Lilandra when referring to X-Factor? As far as he should know, the fifth person in the group is Cyclops's wife Madelyne because that is what Magneto thought when he saw them and that is what he would have told the X-Men & New Mutants. Xavier shouldn't know that the 5th member is actually Jean Grey returned from the dead here, so the "brought them together" line makes no sense. Wolverine was doubting his own nose/sanity when he smelled Jean Grey alive during the Mutant Massacre and at the wreck of Sara Grey's house because he didn't know Jean actually WAS alive.
And I agree about the lack of benefit of the doubt. That speaks more to Claremont's resentment of the X-Factor story than what the characters should logically be thinking.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 19, 2014 5:48 PM
The lack of benefit of the doubt makes sense. Remember, Xavier found out about X-Factor from the New Mutants' minds- and the New Mutants blame X-Factor for Larry Bodine's suicide. So, Xavier is learning about X-Factor from the perspective of people that consider them little better than murderers and is shocked that his students have fallen so low. Besides, who wouldn't X-Factor tell the X-Men if they were running a scam?
Posted by: Michael | March 19, 2014 9:32 PM
The benefit of the doubt point is: why isn't anyone (Xavier especially) wondering if Cyclops & Co. aren't infiltrating the X-Factor organization to take it down from the inside and instead assume they are complicit? Or maybe wondering if they haven't been brainwashed somehow and maybe need to be rescued? Or here's a crazy idea... maybe the whole thing is a front to rescue young mutants from nasty situations? Why would they assume people who have been friends, teammates and proven heroes suddenly become "evil"? Especially Xavier who knew them the most intimately? It's lazy writing at the least, at the most... well, maybe it's best not to get into that argument.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 19, 2014 10:32 PM
I just posted the discussion about this issue and it's placement in the larger scheme of things on the Marvel Chronology Project. Doing a bit of research into the issues involved, I believe Storm's appearance here should go before Mephisto vs.... #3 because of New Mutants 52/Fallen Angels #1-3 (which take place before Mephisto vs.... 4 because of XF 17's tie-ins).
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 20, 2014 2:44 AM
I will definitely look at pushing the X-Men issues all prior to Mephisto vs.... Thanks, Michael and Jay. I also hope to compress the amount of time between Mephisto #3 and #4 as much as possible when i'm done; placement is all still tentative (i still have Wolverine's Spider-Man encounters to look at, for example).
Posted by: fnord12 | March 20, 2014 11:12 AM
This issue was a tremendous letdown back then. Kevin Nowlan had done quite a bit of art for Fantagraphics, and his last book before this was DC's Outsiders Special, which had absolutely beautiful art. And then I read...this thing, which had people with hair made of SCRIBBLE! I can only guess why Nowlan's art turned out this way...he tended to draw slow, so did he do this to catch up with a deadline? Was he trying to emulate Sienkiewicz's weird looking heads? I very nearly dropped the book at this point. Unbelieveable disappointment.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 20, 2014 8:14 PM
The X-Men issues surrounding this don't need to be pushed back fnord12, just this issue needs to go before Mephisto vs.... #3. The Uncanny X-Men issues you've placed after Mephisto vs.... #4 still happen after it.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 21, 2014 1:03 AM
Sorry, I mean: New Mutants #47-51 need to take place before Mephisto vs.... #1-3.
New Mutants Annual #3 - New Mutants #52 - Fallen Angels #1-3 (at least) take place while Rogue is trapped by Mephisto in vs.... #4.
Anything after that probably goes after Mephisto vs.... #4.
I wasn't sure if I'd explained that in a way that made sense.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 21, 2014 1:45 AM
Jay, your explanation makes sense and i will take a look. You are still a little bit ahead of me so i won't start shuffling anything yet.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 21, 2014 7:47 AM
I looked closer at the X-Men issues and it's possible their appearances in Mephisto vs.... 3-4 could take place between The Uncanny X-Men #218 & 219 without having to move Storm's appearance in this issue from between The Uncanny X-Men #214 & 215. That would keep Storm & Wolverine's investigation of Sarah Grey's firebombed house right after Scott & Jean are there and there is about a week that takes place between Havok's first visit to the Mansion when he tried to talk to the X-Men, and his return there in #219. During that week while the X-Men are back from Muir Island, Mephisto could have held Rogue captive.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 21, 2014 1:12 PM
Aargh, I mean without moving Storm's appearance here from between her appearances in The Uncanny X-Men #216 & 219! Bloomin' 'eck!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 21, 2014 2:17 PM
"It's off-beat, it's different, and we know you're gonna love it!"
Except for those of us who absolutely hated it. It wasn't enough to make me drop the book since it was only one issue - it would take Blevins to do that.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 16, 2015 7:31 AM
Oh my god, the art in this issue was such a mess. It's the first time I genuinely and explicitly do NOT like an issue's art, and considering the fact that I'm very tolerant about artists in general, this says a lot. I don't know about Nowlan's other works, he could have done a great job for what I know, but this particular issue is quite simply awful. The New Mutants all look like kids, with Dani and Illyana especially looking like brats to me. And they're SO off-model. Magneto has always been rather muscular, as we recently saw while he was taking a shower. Hepzibah actually looks good, but even she is off-model.
The story was okay. It did quite a good job at showing Xavier's manipulative tendencies, even though it's done in an awkward way at times. I guess Claremont had other priorities at the time, since at the end of the day, Xavier is still is space. Which isn't a bad thing; there's still a lot to explore about the Magneto/New Mutants relationship.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | December 4, 2016 10:43 AM
In hindsight, I see merits to the art that I didn't see when the issue came out. Nate, I had the same reaction at the time and for a long while afterwards. At this point, Kevin Nowlan is probably best known for "Jack B. Quick" with Alan Moore and believe me, it works a lot better for comics about a boy genius' life in smalltown Kansas than for space opera characters designed by Dave Cockrum or Bob McLeod.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 5, 2016 11:17 PM
Speaking of Nate, where has Nathan Adler gone? Haven't seen him post here for ages!
Posted by: Chris Cohen | December 6, 2016 5:41 AM
I don't know who Nathan Adler is, but I can confirm I'm a totally different person. (ironically, I'm answering comments written by two different Chrises)
I agree genre is a factor in art. Some art just isn't fitting for a particular story, but may look great in another kind of story.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | December 7, 2016 2:27 PM
Maybe fnord knows where Nate's at then. Know he has some health issues, so wondering if there's any news?
Posted by: Chris Cohen | December 7, 2016 6:15 PM
Nathan Adler has opted to not come here anymore. You might consider reaching out to him at his own site. (P.S. Don't really want to turn this entry into a thread about Nathan.)
Posted by: fnord12 | December 7, 2016 6:34 PM
Hope Nathan Adler comes back for The Crossing and Avengers Forever, I'd love to see what he thinks of them when the time comes.
Posted by: D09 | December 7, 2016 7:40 PM
Not to derail any further than fnord wants, but just to add a bit to not worry folk too much about his health, as of 5 days ago; "I have been undergoing treatment again and have had little energy as a result."
He will be updating his site soon with my Hellcat/Moondragon fan fiction nonsense... I'm sending him the images later tonight, so I will let him know you're all thinking of him (and I'll let him know everyone was looking forward to hear from him when fnord gets to The Crossing).
Posted by: AF | December 8, 2016 6:14 AM
Give Nathan my best wishes. I wish I could have helped him more than I did.
Nate, like I say, I actually do see merits in this art now. I am strongly in favor of drawing characters "on-model" and this issue didn't remotely do that, but just in the scans fnord gave, Hepzibah looks good, Shan and Xavier look good, Magneto looks good, Storm looks great. The pacing seems good - I'd have to see the actual pages to judge - that last panel of Shaw backed by Selene and Tessa looks great.
I'm not trying to convince you. Believe me, I had the same reaction. This is Marvel in 1987, what the hell were they thinking? But feel free to Google (or better yet, purchase) "Jack B. Quick" and you'll see exactly why someone thought he had potential. Why he wound up drawing this issue of "New Mutants," no man can say.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 8, 2016 10:41 PM
I love "Jack B. Quick" and am amazed to learn this (which I also remember disliking in the '80s) is the same artist.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 11, 2018 11:33 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|