New Mutants #53-54
Issue(s): New Mutants #53, New Mutants #54
The issue begins with a dream sequence. Doug Ramsey has been merging at a cellular level with Warlock a lot lately, and in his dream he's infected with the trans-mode virus, attacking his friends and ultimately having to fight Warlock the way Warlock had to fight his father, Magus.
After the dream it seems that Doug really is infected.
Then, Magneto rather ill-advisedly takes the New Mutants to a social event at the Hellfire Club. Even beyond the fact that the situation is scripted such that it seems the New Mutants don't find out where they are going until they get there (which must really just be for exposition purposes)...
...the New Mutants have been through a series of traumas, including their deaths and resurrection at the hands of the Beyonder, the Mutant Massacre, a jaunt through space-time where they faced the future horrors of the Days of Future Past and some of them growing up to be bad guys, and then Sunspot and Warlock running away from the team in Fallen Angels. Magneto thought this might take their minds off these events, but going into the den of people that have tried to kidnap and brainwash you in the past is hardly relaxing (except for Illyana).
It's especially traumatizing for Doug, who feels abandoned and weak now that Warlock is gone, since without him his power of language translation is hardly useful in dangerous situations.
This leads to him acting like a jerk to Tarot, one of Emma Frost's rival Hellion students...
...and then getting seduced by another, Roulette. Roulette first gets Doug to the gambling table, where - in an interesting development that will have a lot more relevance years later - Doug applies his ability to read language to body language.
He's later found drunk in a bedroom with Roulette and a couple of short-skirted Hellfire Club maids.
Then he realizes that Roulette's luck powers may have been what was helping him at the gambling table and he gives her a slap.
Wolfsbane is also lured away by the Hellion Catseye, but the two of them don't really get into any trouble.
The situation with Doug escalates into a full blown argument between the New Mutants and the Hellions, and they decide on a contest to settle it.
Earlier, a supplicant hoping to join the Hellfire Club showed up and offered a statue of the moon goddess Selene to the actual Selene, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. The supplicant doesn't seem aware that the real Selene is indeed a thousand year old goddess. Magma says that the statue is a forgery, because the authentic one has been a part of her family for centuries, as its an image of an ancestor of hers. Selene confirms that the statue really is of her (which means she's Magma's ancestor) but also confirms that the statue is a forgery.
So the New Mutants and the Hellions decide to hunt down whoever sold the fake statue.
An interesting point is that the New Mutants decide that the Hellions are probably going to "cheat" and so they have Magik using scrying sorcery to spy on them and find out where the statue is. It'll turn out that the Hellions knew that the New Mutants would spy on them, so they faked the information they gave out while Magik was scrying (how they knew when to speak the fake information isn't said, but i guess it could be attributed to Tarot's card readings), and so the Hellions win the contest because the New Mutants tried to cheat.
The statue forgery dealers turn out to be Viper and the Silver Samurai. Which, it's clear from this story that they have a lucrative business dealing in industrial strength cheese dip...
...and even besides that it seems like a pretty non-visionary thing for the Viper to be involved in. Plus Viper and the Samurai are defeated off-panel by the Hellions while the New Mutants fight their goons; it's not a good showing for these villains.
It's also (deliberately) not a good showing for the New Mutants, who not only get tempted into a silly but dangerous competition but also lose.
While all of this is going on, we're reminded that there's more serious stuff they group could be attending to if they wanted extracurricular activities. Karma declines to go on the adventure and instead uses the opportunity at the Hellfire Club to possess the mind of Tessa (who, she notes, has unusually strong willpower, but not enough to resist)...
...and use the Club's resources to look for her missing siblings. She finds nothing (were all records erases, same as with Madelyne Pryor?)...
...and it turns out that Magneto had already arranged for Tessa to be running that search on a regular basis.
At then end of this issue, she quits the team to search for her siblings full time, and the point is made that the other New Mutants were too wrapped up in their own nonsense to notice Karma's concerns.
The New Mutants wear their graduation costumes during this escapade...
...so that they won't be recognized in their New Mutants costumes. The irony of them wearing their graduation costumes while doing something immature is explicitly made...
...and i think furthers the reading that the whole point of these issues is to show that the New Mutants aren't ready to graduate yet. That's made even more explicit when Dani Moonstar looks directly at the camera at the end and says so.
This is a missed opportunity, in my opinion. It's worth noting that 54 issues in, we're nearly as far along as the original X-Men's entire pre-hiatus series. The X-Men "graduated" during their first publication year and had individualized costumes by issue #39. The New Mutants can hardly be considered "New" any more; we haven't even had a new member since Warlock joined in issue #21. It would have been nice at this point to see some of the team graduate, either joining the X-Men or forming their own team (as will, another ~50 issues from now, eventually happen when the book is relaunched as X-Force). I understand the sliding timescale concerns, but the characters wouldn't even have had to age; Kitty Pryde is the same age as the New Mutants and she's been a full-fledged X-Man for longer than the New Mutants book existed. Instead, in order to keep this team at status quo, the New Mutants' development has been stunted and they're kept in a perpetual immature state. And that's why next issue we're meeting Birdbrain.
Some odds and ends:
Dani and James Proudstar (Thunderbird II, later Warpath) are shown developing a little thing.
Between constant allusions to Wounded Knee and other Native American historical events, the outfits they both wear, and Dani calling herself "war chief", we're really overemphasizing their ethnicities. To be fair, Dani and James are both leaders of their respective groups and they commiserate nicely on the tribulations of corralling groups of unruly teens, so they are shown to have something in common beyond their Native American-ness, but it's a little offputting. A potential romance shown between Magma and Jetstream has more potential.
I'd also say that Doug reaching out to Tarot again and apologizing might have been nice, but he's such a jerk in these issues he ought to just lay low for a while.
I also liked this scene of Magik terrorizing Empath.
The island where Viper and Silver Samurai are running their cheese dip operation is called Shooter's Island. Not sure if that's meant to be a knock of some sort at our Editor in Chief.
And here's one of their guards affected by Mirage's power. It's nice to see that not everyone's greatest desire is sex or money or power. Some of us just want the Easter bunny to be real, goddammit!
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The New Mutants are said to have been grounded for "weeks" prior to this outing. This takes place after Sunspot and Warlock leave in Fallen Angels #1-2.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlack King (Sebastian Shaw), Black Queen (Selene), Cannonball, Catseye, Cypher, Empath, Jetstream, Karma, Madame Hydra (Viper), Magik, Magma, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Roulette, Silver Samurai, Tarot, Tessa, Warpath, White Queen (Emma Frost), Wolfsbane
Again, we've got the inconsistencies with Illyana's scrying pool. Why is Illyana able to use the pool to spy on the Hellions but not find Leong and Nga? And how do the Hellions know that Illyana can spy on them but not Leong and Nga? Or that she can only sense what they're hearing but not what they're thinking? Claremont wanted to show how immature the New Mutants were but instead of having the Muties lose because they came up with a stupid plan, he had the Hellions win because they inexplicably know more about how Illyana's powers work than the reader.
Posted by: Michael | April 5, 2014 12:26 PM
The cheese dip is probably a Groo the Wanderer reference.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 5, 2014 3:33 PM
It is a long shot, but Archie Goodwin was Groo's editor in Epic, perhaps even during this time. He was also Editor in Chief before Shooter, and Claremont worked under him during early New X-Men stories.
Maybe he was inviting a comparison between the two? Or between Epic's more creator-oriented books and the regular line's?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 6, 2014 12:47 AM
The poor showing for Viper and Silver Samurai here reminds me of the almost as poor showing for Fenris at the end of Claremont's Excalibur run, after they'd previously been built up in X-Men. That "Girls School From Heck" story is similarly lightweight as an ending, and shares some loose thematic similarities with this one.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 6, 2014 2:39 AM
Maybe Claremont was just a Groo fan?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 6, 2014 11:20 AM
Shooters Island (no apostrophe) is a real island in the New York Harbor.
FNORD12's comments on the lack maturity is an issue with the entire concept of the New Mutants. At some point they'll have to graduate, and Claremont needs to deal with it. The best solution is that when he decides to not use certain characters anymore on X-Men, he pulls from the NM graduates. To take the recent Morlock Massacre, having lost Shadowcat, Colossus, and Nightcrawler instead of replacing them with Dazzler, Psylocke, and Longshot who could he have used among the NM?
Between graduation and serving in the X-Men, we could see them integrate into normal human society something desperately needed in the X-books. So the characters could still continue to be published in a few subplot panels.
To be fair to the NM, yes, the original X-Men did graduate within a year. But it's obvious all of them (except perhaps Marvel Girl) have been receiving instruction from Xavier before the first issue. We could easily fit a few real years in there. And Xavier would not be distracted with all of Claremont's subplots, assassination attempts, alien love affairs, and other issues. He would have concentrated solely on getting Cyclops and Co. up to speed real fast since he knows it's only a matter of time before he must send them against Magneto.
Claremont really feels ownership of certain characters. Because he's used Viper and Silver Samurai before, he continues to use them even though it has made little sense in their last few appearances.
Posted by: Chris | April 6, 2014 2:34 PM
Enjoyed the review, and then you had to remind me of *shudder* Birdbrain. Louise Simonson could write a tolerable "X-Factor" (although I'm reminded on the other articles on this site that she rarely did; gimme a break, I was ten or eleven years old when these comics came out, and the non-Claremont comics were hardly worth re-reading) she was horrible on "New Mutants." The nicest thing that I can say about Brett Blevins' art was that I was still reading the muties when Liefeld took over the art, and after some special edition-or-other that Blevins drew, I realized I didn't know how good I had I way back when.
Even scarier, I was *still* reading this title after Liefeld left "X-Force." Not much longer, but it still boggles my mind that I followed 60-70 issues of a comic whose quality went through the floor after Claremont left.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 8, 2014 7:01 PM
I enjoyed a lot of Simonson's run. There were some really groan inducing parts too, it wasn't a classic, and it was a big step down after Claremont. It wasn't a horrible run though.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 8, 2014 7:45 PM
The last year and a half of Nicieza's run on X-Force was pretty good.
Posted by: Michael | April 8, 2014 7:57 PM
According to Comics Interview #39, Ann Nocenti may be responsible for the New Mutants' continued immaturity. She is quoted as saying that in past issues, especially during the Sienkiewicz era, they and the X-Men were almost indistinguishable and too often they were put in stories that they "weren't meant for". Also, that several of them would never be X-Men because they didn't have enough callousness. She preferred them to behave more like goofy teenagers, which may explain all the awfulness we saw during Louise Simonson's era.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 8:24 PM
Disagree, because Louise Simonsen was the editor during the X-Babies' gestation, and for all intents and purposes, probably deserves co-creator status with Claremont. But she could not write them! She was horrible! The Bird-Brain storyline, then the Gossymr (sp?) storyline, then the Asgard storyline, these were all so far away from what made the New Mutants interesting, it was just pathetic. If she hadn't needed to fit the story into Claremont's overall "Inferno"/"X-Tinction Agenda"/"Muir Island" plans (with the associated editorial influence) they wouldn't have even been that good.
Looking at these reviews, I can see merit in Brett Blevins' art which I had never seen before. It didn't work for the muties, but it could work for a fun teen series (kinda like the Cloak and Dagger part of "Strange Tales," even though I didn't care for his work there either.) And that's just the art. Louise Simonsen destroyed the X-Babies, and I will never ever forgive her for that. Ok, that's a bit harsh, but you get my point.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 3, 2014 4:02 AM
I will be provocative: Was this title ever very good? I don't think so. The concept was worthy, but this time Claremont could not inherit a group of characters created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum; he had to come up with his own. The group with which he (and McLeod?) came up was unappealing from the start, blunt types largely distinguishable by the way their accents were rendered. Did anyone New Mutant ever become a breakout fan favorite? You either read The New Mutants or you didn't, but was anyone ever dying to learn more about Cannonball or Wolfsbane, or agitating for a Magma solo series?
It seemed to me that he and Byrne created this very popular, endearing, and fairly complex teen character, Kitty Pryde, and then he and Marvel were trying to make the lightning strike again and again in the same title. As Rahne might say, "It dinnah happen."
By the time in the late '80s when Marvel finally got its wish of an X-book coming out every week of the month, this was the clear weak sister to X-Men, X-Factor, and Excalibur. I know I was only reading it as a completist.
Posted by: Todd | May 3, 2014 11:40 AM
I think it's unfair to say that Claremont inherited interesting characters from Wein and Cockrum.
I felt New Mutants was Claremont's best work for a long time.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 3, 2014 6:22 PM
It's not a stretch to say that "The New Mutants" were some of Claremont's best work, but it's also a fair point that he didn't really create any breakout characters. They worked as an ensemble, they worked as X-Babies interacting with the adults, they worked to further the on-going plotlines in both (all) series, and - assuming there's anybody who read "New Mutants" but didn't read "X-Men" - they also worked as an individual series.
No, no one especially cared about the individual characters on their own. I came to the series late in Claremont's run, but I never got the impression that anyone was interested in whatever happened to Karma (which, by the way, bookended the run, as she disappeared in #6 or so, came back during the Farouk storyline, and then ran off in his final issue.) I was interested when she showed up in "Wolverine" some time after that, but only as a character I knew and liked, and not intrinsically fascinating herself.
It wasn't a brilliant book in its own right, but it was an excellent supplementary title for the mutant mythos that Claremont had built and continued to build. I would say "X-Factor" was the weak spot, because Louise Simonsen wrote it, and even if you were too young to know people actually wrote comics (as I was) the intrinsic problems with bringing Jean Grey back are what ultimately undermined Claremont's run.
Consider: none of the New Mutants ever met Jean or had any more than the vaguest knowledge of her as a Founding X-Man or a classic comic book storyline. The entire series took place in a post-Dark Phoenix world. It would be like talking to a twelve-year old about 9/11. They weren't there. They didn't see it. Who knows if they even acknowledge it?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 3, 2014 8:57 PM
As an example of supplementing, there's the obvious example of Illyana (created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and the closest to a breakout character the series had, except maybe Warlock) who magically aged in "X-Men" #160, roomed with Kitty and eventually led to "Inferno," my personal favorite crossover. She bounced between both titles, and in one of my favorite X-Men stories - the Kulan Gath two-parter - in the midst of tying the X-Men together with some New Mutants, Spider-Man, the Avengers and Doctor Strange, Professor X concludes the story by asking Dr. Strange for advice about Illyana, because she's that important to both series, and it's perfectly in character.
In "X-Men" #193, Charley when he wore *that* outfit the Morlocks gave him, and (I think it was Nightcrawler) asked Cannonball what the Professor had said when Sam wore a similar outfit and we all had a good laugh. "New Mutants" #45 was a Kitty Pryde story and the main characters were supporting cast only. In #25, Xavier made a point to Cloak about the first time his mutant abilities surfaced, and how it destroyed his relationship with his half-brother, the Juggernaut, who never appeared in the title (until "X-Force.")
For anyone who loves comic book continuity, whether you care about the writers or not, "New Mutants" was an awesome title and practically the textbook on how to combine it with "X-Men." Kids should study it in school.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 3, 2014 9:13 PM
Nice posts, ChrisW!
It's the same with X-Men really. I never much cared about Storm, Colossus, or Nightcrawler on their own..but I liked what each character brought to the X-Men. Some people may love Storm or Nightcrawler...but, while I loved what Claremont did with their characterization over time, I never really wanted to read an on-going Storm series every month.
With New Mutants, I did like following what was happening with Wolfsbane after she left the New Mutants. I liked how she was used in Excalibur.
I'm not sure if there's enough to carry a whole series, but not every character can carry an entire series. I would never want to see a Mr. Fantastic monthly book, but it doesn't mean I don't like Mr. Fantastic, or that I don't think he brings something very important to Fantastic Four, making it worth reading.
Some of the other characters I didn't care that much about. Cannonball is sort of a dull character, but he works well within the context of the team dynamic.
There's nothing unusual in that either, as with Alpha Flight, I never much cared for some of the characters, like Vindicator, but I very much cared about other characters, and all of them together made Alpha Flight a book I loved reading for its first few years.
Posted by: Chris Kafka | May 3, 2014 11:24 PM
That's one of Claremont's greatest strengths, that you are interested in/care about the characters, as part of the group. It's the exact opposite of bringing together Cap, Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk to form a superteam (or Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.) Wolverine wasn't a major break-out character until the 1990s, and even before then, could be absent or easily defeated. [I love the "FF vs. the X-Men" story, where in the final fight, Wolvie attacks the Thing who shrugs, bonks him, and pats him on the head, "Night night, shorty" before getting back to the rest of the battle.]
Claremont made us care about the X-Men as a group, and by extension all the spin-off groups. There were the New Mutants (who had their own title) but there were the Starjammers, ex-X-Men like Alex and Lorna, the Morlocks, Dazzler, characters in Claremont's other Marvel work [Karma, Colleen Wing, Captain Britain, Kulan Gath] and it all built from his agreement to script "X-Men" #95 and start writing the series after that. And our love for the overall mutant mythos mostly stems from that (your mileage may vary.)
Knowing in hindsight how editorial influence and his own weaknesses were ruining the X-titles, the cover of "X-Men" #254 is one of my favorite moments in the series, as Legion, Amanda Sefton, Banshee, Forge, Sunder, Moira and Polaris burst through the cover in a recreation of "Giant-Size" #1. Five of the seven characters were co-created by Claremont, none of them had much personality without him, and the whole point is that such minor characters in his epic run were brought to the point where the whole thing had to be restarted.
I liken this to Stan and Jack creating the Fantastic Four, carrying it on for a few issues, and eventually creating Dr. Doom. Doom makes a great villain, so they bring him back every so often, and the series is successful. So they introduce Galactus and the Silver Surfer for a great story. Then, they wonder what would happen if Doom stole the Surfer's power. This is what builds continuity, and is why it's so awesome when it works. There's a direct line between FF #1 and the later Kirby issues where Sue totally smashes Doom riding a surfboard. You go, girl!
Likewise, every part of the New Mutants was part of Claremont's master plan. Even if he never formulated it, or it got changed by editors, he had one, and that was why these books were so good. "Excalibur" was great, but it was a makeshift work because he had intended to use Sir James Jaspers from Alan Moore's run on "Captain Britain" and that didn't happen. With the possible exception of Kitty, it didn't have any breakout characters either.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 4, 2014 1:31 AM
Excalibur was different though, as it starred ex-X-Men and featured characters already fleshed out by Moore and Delano. Claremont didn't start fresh with Excalibur, he just set up a new tone and location.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 4, 2014 1:50 AM
I was never a fan of the New Mutants. I occasionally bought issues, but didn't follow the title. When I read X-Men, there were various things that confused me because things happened there based on events in New Mutants, and the X-Men book was never footnoted appropriately or told me to check out New Mutants. This site has actually answered a lot of those WTF moments I had 20 years ago.
I think Claremont had some good ideas, but overall too many strange elements were introduced that side-treked the supposed themes of the book. Nova Roma, Warlock, the Demon Bear, and Legion were all things that disrupted any narrative taking place among the kids themselves. They were things that the New Mutants became involved in, but not organically. I liked Ilyana's personality, but the ridiculous invovled with her as ruler of Limbo or a magician.
The things that worked in my mind was the rivalry with the Hellions, Sunspot's anger against Colossus, the kids interaction with normal high schoolers, and the return of Farouk. I think if more things were based on these elements or similar ones, the title would have been improved.
Posted by: Chris | May 4, 2014 2:57 AM
Excalibur was a change, but I'd attribute that to Alan Davis, and my favorite run on the series is the one Davis wrote and drew. Otherwise, I mostly see Claremont trying to play with whatever toys Moore had left him (after the Sir James Jaspers thing didn't work) keep Kurt and Kitty busy now that the X-Men had ditched them, keep Rachel around (since the Phoenix limited series never happened) make use of his new characters like Mojo and Widget, and new interests like playing with the multiverse and setting up the Shadow King story.
The light tone was appreciated, especially in hindsight considering how depressing the mutant titles were getting, but I'd credit that more to Alan Davis than anything else.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 4, 2014 7:07 PM
This discussion has actually led me to start re-reading some of the "New Mutants Classic" collections, and Annual #3 (drawn by Alan Davis) is probably one of the better examples of what this title could have been. A really fun story, with a decent ensemble cast, that does light-hearted superhero-kinda stuff, and at the end, the gruff headmaster comes home, assumes everything has gone well, until he learns it hasn't and screams "NEW MUTANTS!!!" Comic books could use more fun superhero teen comedy books like that.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 4, 2014 8:14 PM
Having read most of the Claremont NM run for the first time just two years ago, I came away with the impression that Claremont was content for the book to Supplemental X-Men in the early days: the kids weren't superheroes (but then, Claremont wanted to downplay the superhero-supervillain side of the adult X-Men, too) but their stories pretty much could have been X-Men stories, with sentinels, the Hellfire Club, Viper & Silver Samurai, etc. except for the Hellions and the school rivalry, nothing about the scenarios, beyond the student premise itself, was distinctive.
When Sienkiewicz came aboard, Claremont took the chance to make the book more radical than X-Men, darker and if anything more adult. That worked with Bill S.'s bizarre, brilliant art, but when he left, Claremont couldn't go back to the X-Men-but-with-teens approach. So we got more dark stories, but without Sienkiewicz's art to justify the whole thing, the clash between the premise of the series and its scenarios' tone became glaring. So Louise is asked to make the kids act younger.
But that wasn't the problem, and the scenarios continue to be very dark. What's more, fifty issues in, NM had already been defined as a book, however badly, and so Louise winds up reiterating scenarios that Claremont had laid down as the pattern: we get Gossamyr in place of Lila, and we get a year of killing time in Asgard. Other than that, we get crossovers with X-Men and X-Factor story lines, and then it's Liefeld time. Claremont had let the series' focus drift into a clash with its premise, and Simonson let it become a melange of genre junk only with whiny, childish characters.
But it was an important book during Marvel's post-Kirby peak, so it gets revived from time to time. But the premise was never fully realized by Claremont or Simonson, and now the characters are too old to be students, so they're just Substiture X-Men. Ironically, Louise a Simonson pitched Claremont's NM idea to Shooter in the first place to head off the possibility of a "West Coast X-Men" with extraneous characters like Havok and Madrox. Today, Havok and Madrox are more prominent than any of the New Nutants except perhaps Illyana.
But at least NM had a premise. Excalibur on the other hand...after Claremont and Davis, who could even pretend it had a point?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 4, 2014 9:09 PM
The Warren Ellis run was very distinctive. Outside of the horrible Scott Lobdell run, and the almost as bad Ben Raab run, Excalibur was a Marvel comic that took place in Britain and was actually written by British talent.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 4, 2014 9:29 PM
Just to bring this back to the New Mutants for a moment, the only issue of "Excalibur" which I even vaguely remember (other than the special edition with the X-Babies) had Illyana as the villain and (the dead) Doug Ramsey as her subordinate. Great stuff.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 5, 2014 1:09 AM
As a premise, all "New Mutants" needed was to be a fun teen comedy set in a superhero world. As a writer, that's exactly how I'd treat them if Marvel hired me. Or, if we age them a few years, a teen sex comedy. "Animal House" featuring mutants. No superheroics needed, and you realize why Kitty and Illyana were the only students in the house who shared a room, nyuck nyuck wink wink.
I would agree that Claremont was more than a little held captive by his artists when they were great. Dave Cockrum co-created the characters, Byrne took over the plotting, Cockrum's return involved several space operas, Sienkiewicz flat-out took the new muties to places they didn't need to be, Miller made Wolverine a more-important character than he should have been, and Silvestri/Lee set the stage for the nightmare of the 90s comic scene, and got Claremont fired too.
Much as I love Marc Silvestri's work, I look at the X-books when they were drawn by decent journeyman artists, JRjr/Dan Green, Jackson Guice/Kyle Baker, Alan Davis. Those artists showed Claremont at his best.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 5, 2014 1:31 AM
Hmm. I know you are talking about creative dynamics more than what I am going to get into, but I disagree that Romita's run on X-Men showed Claremont to best advantage. The impression I had at the time, reinforced by many scans with the reviews here, was that JR's work on the title was rather cluttered and chaotic, and when this was combined with CC's verbose scripting, the results were eyestrain-inducing. There are artists who have a natural affinity for team books; they can gracefully work a lot of characters into the panels. Romita seems to me the opposite of that. I could appreciate his kinetic gifts more on something like Spider-Man. Claremont/Silvestri was more of the same.
For me, the cleaner lines and the spartan aesthetic of a Byrne, Davis, or Paul Smith were the ideal counterbalance.
Posted by: Todd | May 5, 2014 4:47 AM
Per Amazing Heroes Preview Special #4 in early 1987: Claremont was only supposed to take a 6-month break from this book to work on other projects and return for good with #61.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 24, 2014 5:33 PM
Amazing Heroes #115 joke listing for #54:"Cannonball rejoices over the fact that his flattop haircut is finally in style again."---Claremont/Jackson Browne/Jim Bakker
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 13, 2014 5:22 PM
After griping so much about the comics just before this, I am glad to have these two issues because they are two of my favorite NM issues.
First, I love Leonardi's pencils in the first issue. It was such a welcome change from the bouncing around of the previous few issues and I really wish he had stayed on. Next issue will be Blevens and I will hate the art so much that I'll actually give up the book after #66.
Second, I love that these issues remind us that they are just teenagers. Yes, the original X-Men graduated within a year, but they went off to college (except Bobby), so they were clearly older than this group (with the exception of Dani, Xian and Sam). They act like teens, doing stupid things (a big fan of Doug, but he treats Tarot quite badly, but hey, given the situation and him feeling sorry for himself, it's quite realistic).
Third, I like that the team loses. You can't always have the "bad guys" lose, and besides, I like the real rivalry established with the Hellions (too bad the next time they compete it brings in Birdbrain and the title heads down the drain).
Fourth, there are some great individual moments. I love when Illyana scares the crap out of Empath. I like that the guard fantasizes about the Easter Bunny.
Fifth, this is the last gasp before Magneto goes off the deep end, constantly berating them, threatening to clap them in irons and such. He is still the teacher and he is reaching out to his students (including having Tessa check on Xian's siblings).
Sixth, I don't love that Doug gets injured (he'll get injured again next issue before dying a few issues later). His power is interesting and it's nice to have that non-combat power involved. But his injury marks the point where we really get the first hint of the growing feelings between him and Rahne.
Anyway, I really enjoyed these two issues - probably the last two I really enjoyed before I gave up the series.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 18, 2015 12:39 PM
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