Characters Appearing: Birdbrain, Cannonball, Catseye, Cypher, Empath, Jetstream, Magik, Magma, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Roulette, Tarot, Warpath, White Queen (Emma Frost), Wolfsbane
New Mutants #56
Issue(s): New Mutants #56
The story here pits the New Mutants against the Hellions again, this time in competition for the "Bird Boy" that was mentioned in last issue and, it turns out, was releasee by Cannonball when he was being chased by the flying aliens.
There's actually something more important at stake than the Bird Boy, and that's the fact that it turns out that the White Queen has "laid the bait" during the Mutants' last visit to the Hellfire Club...
...and Magma is finding herself to be in love with Empath.
At the end of this issue, the New Mutants have acquired Birdbrain, but Amara decides to quit the New Mutants and join the Hellions.
Despite the art differences, Louise Simonson is still writing with a teen focus. A little surprising (but not wrong) to see demon sorceress Illyana talking about boys like a normal teen.
As for the travesty known as Birdbrain, in this issue he's basically a mcguffin quest object, so while he's weird, he's not offensively so yet.
A lot of cool fight scenes and use of powers as the New Mutants battle the Hellions. Tarot's card projections provide an opportunity for Brigman to be imaginative to a degree we haven't seen since Dragon Man's cousins from Power Pack #6-8.
Empath also seems to have an honest interest in Magma as well, but the gender politics of his emotion manipulating powers make him too unsympathetic a character to even consider as a possible realistic boyfriend.
More on that as we progress.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Sunspot and Warlock are still away from the team. This could mean that the Fallen Angels story is happening concurrently to this, but as we'll see in Power Pack #33, they don't go directly home after the end of that story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I always thought the Hellions were far more interesting than X-Force ever turned out to be in the following decade. They deserved their own mini-series at the very least.
Posted by: Clutch | April 15, 2014 8:04 PM
I never liked the design of the Hellion's uniforms, but they really look out of place now that the New Mutants have their own unique ones. Since the Hellions are supposed to be counterparts to the NM, they should be given their own individual designed uniforms as well.
Teenagers vary greatly in maturity. In down issues like this, it'd be good to see some differentiation between the team members based on their age. Instead everyone seems a generic 16. Cannonball is practically an adult. I'd like to have seen more variety in their maturities.
I don't mind Magma being attracted to Empath on a hormonal level. Good looking, dominant bad boys often attract women. But he's been established as a complete scumbag; why Simonson starts the process of redeeming him, I'll never know.
Posted by: Chris | April 15, 2014 9:33 PM
But the creepy part is that Empath basically raped Tom and Sharon. The idea of a woman being attracted to a guy that raped her friends is sickening.
Posted by: Michael | April 15, 2014 9:40 PM
Yes, Michael it is creepy. But serial killers in prison get love letters. It does not reflect well on Magma, but there are all sorts of reasons that could be explored as to why she does not reject an instinctive attraction to the guy. She has to have intense culture shock going from Nova Roma to the real world. She's very limited in her social circles - at least the other New Mutants can contact their old friends and families. Everyone's a social peer, but she is used to be treated as a patrician from socially subservient clients and servants. It's an interesting conundrum, and for far too long Magma has had no real personality. At least this gives her something. But like many potentially interesting ideas, poor execution makes it stinkeroo. Better to have not done it all.
Posted by: Chris | April 17, 2014 9:42 PM
In New Mutants #53, Claremont teases an attraction between Magma and Jetstream. It's therefore kind of weird that Simonson cites that issue when the White Queen says that she "laid the bait" to luring Magma to the team but uses Empath instead of Jetstream as the love interest. I take the White Queen's statement to suggest that there's mind control going on, that Magma isn't naturally in love with Empath. If that was ever the intention, though, i assume it got dropped like so many other things.
Looking back at that issue, i also like the way Magik terrorizes Empath. I could actually see them becoming a weird kind of couple, both evil in different ways.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 18, 2014 9:22 AM
I feel like it's okay to try redeeming someone this young. Empath may be a manipulative villain but he's only 16. Mental health professionals won't diagnose people with personality disorders (which are the really disruptive, potentially untreatable problems) until they're out of their teens and usually into their twenties, their brains literally haven't finished forming before then. Two friends of mine who committed serious crimes at that age are now a psychiatric social worker and a beloved high school teacher.
Posted by: Alex F | August 21, 2014 3:45 PM
I was never a fan of Magik being "boy-crazy". It made her seem shallow.
Posted by: PH | September 29, 2014 4:54 AM
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