New Mutants #77-80,82-85
Issue(s): New Mutants #77, New Mutants #78, New Mutants #79, New Mutants #80, New Mutants #82, New Mutants #83, New Mutants #84, New Mutants #85
But for now, this is the storyline wherein the New Mutants go to Asgard for a lifetime and a half.
To be fair, the first two issues of this story don't have the New Mutants actually in Asgard, but it's definitely an Asgardian based plot. Dani Moonstar has been feeling feverish in her recent appearances (including X-Factor #41), and it turns out that heat is part of a scheme by Hela to use the Valkyries in a power play against Odin.
Dani collapses while the team is dropping off young Illyana Rasputin in Russia. The New Mutants take her back to X-Factor's Ship, and Ship suggests contacting Dr. Strange.
Strange is still (or again?) pretending to be dead, but Ship is only going by records left by Apocalypse. So the New Mutants go to Strange's house. They get the standard bum's rush from Wong, but they make a fuss on the doorstep long enough for Dr. Strange to look into things from afar and realize there is something mystically wrong with Dani.
The selfish bastard nonetheless doesn't reveal himself and invite the New Mutants inside. I can understand if Strange still wanted to keep his identity a secret from the masses. But when genuine super-heroes show up on your doorstep with a genuine mystical problem, you'd think he could make an exception. Hell, just wipe their memories later like you've done a thousand times before.
But no, he lets things get to this point before doing anything...
...and even then only acts in his astral form.
Separating Dani's soul from her body just allows the evil spirit left behind to go on even more of a rampage...
...and Strange realizes that Dani has to go back inside her body to fight it. Dani resists due to the pain she's been experiencing, but relents when she sees Wolfsbane get hurt.
Dani also uses her powers to create an ice machine for herself to keep her cool. It looks sufficiently Kirby enough that i'll accept that it can quell a magical fire.
Dr. Strange casts a spell to fix the damage and heal the injuries that she's caused.
The New Mutants start to take Dani and her ice machine back to Ship, and Dr. Strange tags along in astral form.
Meanwhile, we see that Hela's plans involve keeping the Valkyrie too inflamed to perform their appointed task of collecting warrior souls. This, Hela thinks, will prevent Odin's army's ranks from swelling, allowing her to defeat him.
Instead, the Valkyrie will bring her the warrior souls.
In this sense, her scheme is similar to her takeover of Valhalla which came up circa Thor #311, and that wound up being settled relatively amicably between Hela and Odin. Hela's beef in this story is supposedly with Thor, not Odin (see first Reference), and i really don't like the way she's being played as a straight-up villain in this arc. She's generally been more ambiguous than that.
Freedom Force is called in to investigate reports of a fiery mutant attack, and they naturally assume it was caused by Rusty, not Mirage.
They attack while the New Mutants are still trying to get Dani back to Ship. Dr. Strange dares not to assist the Mutant kids.
With the New Mutants getting picked off...
...Dr. Strange being useless, and Rick Leonardi's art being too messy to see exactly what's going on...
...the New Mutants are forced to land on Liberty Island. But Freedom Force still won't listen to reason.
Blob tries to convince Rusty to surrender saying that it wouldn't be so bad and he'd probably get put on Freedom Force. He also lets it slip that the government has plans for the Inferno babies.
You have to love Dr. Strange floating there impotently with his arms crossed in every panel.
Rusty and Skids convince the rest of the New Mutants to get back to Ship with Dani while Freedom Force tries to penetrate her forcefield. Some of Freedom Force do pursue the larger group, resulting in this tidal wave from Avalanche that absolutely wasn't referenced in New Mutants annual #5.
The tidal wave prevents the New Mutants from getting to Ship, and the salt water also melts Dani's ice, releasing the Valkyrie to again go on a rampage. Ship is then pulled into space to participate in Judgment War in the X-Factor book...
...leaving the New Mutants without a solution for Dani. So Dr. Strange decides that the only way he can "help" is to teleport the team to Asgard.
Thank you so much for your assistance, Doctor.
I guess Hela is pretty upset about it so it must have been somewhat useful.
But Mirage is totally gone at this point.
The Mirage-Valkyrie flies off, and while we learn that Hela's plans also include the collection of non-warrior souls...
....the New Mutants get attacked by dwarves.
The weirdness of it all has Boom Boom freaking out.
But Cannonball convinces the team to surrender to the dwarves, since he is friends with their leader, Eitri. This does call the team to call into question his leadership.
As Boom Boom continues to freak out, Rictor has some insightful comments both about her and himself (when she goes wrong he bosses her around?)...
...and then Eitri shows up and Cannonball's call turns out to be correct.
And then the possessed Valkyrie show up and attack. From there, we just have a lot of running around as the New Mutants get captured, get free, split up and fall in with various factions, etc.
They hook up with Hrimhari, the Wolf Prince...
...who, with some help from Volstagg's children, leads some of the team to Tiwaz, aka Buri, Odin's grandfather. Odin himself is conveniently Odinsleeping and therefore unavailable. And the Warriors Three are first said to be away for their appearance in Avengers #310 but it later becomes apparent that they've just never returned from that trip. This, by the way, is what Volstagg's spunky daughter Hildy looks like in this arc.
Some of the other New Mutants hook up with Mist, a Valkyrie who is part faerie, and her faerie-blood allows her to resist Hela's spell a while longer (but not indefinitely).
The New Mutants are therefore asked to trust Cannonball when he calls for them to surrender a second time, but it does pan out again.
We also get to see Garm, the giant wolf-dog guardian who will later be the mother of Teen Loki's pet dog Thori. The characters talk like Garm is male in this story.
Hela's plan evolves and/or more is revealed, and she now plans to have Mirage kill Odin in his Odinsleep with an Uru sword that she forced Eitri to forge. The idea is that if Odin is killed in a non-glorious way by a mortal, Hela will own his soul.
Before Mist gets completely turned by Hela's spell, she releases Harokin and Executioner from a prison.
Hrimhari's group eventually makes it to Tiwaz.
And Tiwaz sends them to rescue the Warriors Three, who are prisoners of Queen Ula of the flying Hive Trolls. This issue (#84) is technically an Acts of Vengeance crossover, although that's meant to be more about the Vulture & Rusty subplot than the main story, even though Ula certainly is a villain that the New Mutants never fought before.
It turns out that Ula was blaming Asgard for kidnapping her people. But Hrimhari, who Ula's people trust, says that it was really Hela, not Odin, that was doing that, and so Ula lends her flying swarm to the New Mutant's forces. Meanwhile, Karnilla and Balder are contacted by Hildy and her siblings, and Karnilla (with some secret help from Tiwaz) casts another spell trying to restore her stone people to life, and it doesn't quite work as expected. Instead of turning them human it animates them and restores their consciousness, so now her entire citizenry can function as a stone army.
For the most part i find this story to be a real chaotic drag (and interminably long) but i do like the use of the obscure Queen Ula and the follow-up on Karnilla's people. It makes me wish that Louise Simonson's husband Walt had been drawing (and maybe co-plotting) this.
Anyway, big battle.
The New Mutants wind up separating from the battle to stop Mirage from killing Odin.
Then Eitri, guilty over having forged the blade, arrives. He managed to put a flaw in the sword before getting stabbed with it.
So it is up to Cannonball to fly into the sword, destroying it. After he does so, Hela and her hordes flee back to Hel, and Mirage returns to human form.
Odin still doesn't wake up, despite the fact that he's having nightmares about Rob Liefeld.
Honestly, i am ready for Liefeld at this point. This book needs a major change in direction. The Liefeld era may not be (ok, wasn't) an improvement but at least it will be something different.
As with X-Factor's Judgment War, part of the problem here is just the length of the story and the fact that it takes the kids away from what makes them interesting. Despite their (tenuous) connection with Asgard, the New Mutants are pretty generic in this arc; there's really nothing here specific to the characters that we should be caring about. It's just an insanely frenzied adventure story. But at least Judgment War was a decent story in its own right. This one is a mess. It doesn't even end! I'm not even clear why destroying the sword transforms Dani back into human form; the sword wasn't even forged when this all started. Maybe it's explained somewhere but i don't really care. That's what eight issues of this messy story with equally messy art will do to you.
It's a shame about the art. Blevins at his best has a very unique and fun style. But he's clearly rushed on this arc, as evidenced as much by the state of his art when he is on the book as when a guest artist has to come in. Compare this mess to (yes, i know) the Ani-Mates from New Mutants #58-61 and you will see what i'm talking about. That may have been an equally hyperactive storyline but at least it looked good.
Anyway, before signing off we have to jump back a bit. Back on Earth, Freedom Force come up with a solution to Skid's forcefield problem.
After "hours" of holding up the forcefield, Skids eventually collapses and both are taken into custody. Rusty is put into a cell next to the Vulture.
Seeing Vulture pushed around and especially hearing news about an upcoming trial for Nitro, who, due to his powers, is likely going to be kept sedated throughout his own trial, Rusty starts worrying about his own civil rights.
The Vulture gets a surprise package from the Tinkerer; a stripped down version of his costume...
...and he escapes from prison. Rusty breaks out to try to stop him.
Rusty winds up getting shaken by Vulture, who goes off to rescue Nitro.
Rusty is assumed by the prison guards to be breaking out, and indeed he frees Skids so she can help him.
Another thing that is just maddening for me is the way Louise Simonson expected to be able to write an 8 part story (which came out over 9 issues if you count the fill-in in #81), referencing other books and status quos nearly every issue, and think it could possibly fit in a way that makes sense. This starts with references to X-Factor #40-41, has Dr. Strange in his fake death and eyepatch mode, connects again with X-Factor #43, talks like the Warriors Three are out looking for Thor in Avengers #310, and by the end of this is referencing Thor #413 as the reason why Thor isn't in Asgard while at the same time being an Acts of Vengeance tie-in (Thor #413 happens at the very end of Acts of Vengeance, and oh by the way, features Dr. Strange without an eyepatch). Unless everyone lays down and takes long naps in between issues, there's just no way that can be expected to all line up. And that's on top of also referencing this arc during the New Mutants' Atlantis Attacks annual. I'm very much in favor of keeping an eye on the status quo of other books, and i think, for example, the fact that Odin is Odinsleeping for this story is great considering he'd been fighting off his nap in earlier Thor issues. But you can't do that while running a lengthy epic; you're just bound to tie yourself into knots. Marvel used to be better at compartmentalizing these stories and coming up for air every so often to leave space for other books, or establishing that an arc takes place at a certain time. It now just seems like every issue someone looks around to see what's coming in concurrently published books and makes references to it.
But i know i have some very, er, specialized requirements when it comes to this sort of thing and the average reader wouldn't have cared so much. The bigger problem is the lack of any kind of characterization that went into this arc. A long letter is run in issue #84 complaining that the frantic and lengthy nature of the plotting, with no allowances for downtime, have ruined the core concept of the book and removed any sense of character from the characters.
The New Mutants were converted from a group of kids to a group of characters running willy-nilly all over the place. No respect was paid to them; they had shattering experiences one page and were over it by the next. At no point did it seem to occur to anyone that these were reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-behaved teenagers with families and backgrounds. They'd been Porky-ized, turned into budding buffoons. Their adolescent problems became, at best, dim background noise and, at worst, something to point and laugh at. They had no depth, no reality to them. Rahne Sinclair, for example, may have had a life best described as gothic but at core her worries were the same as any other girl just turning fourteen. Am I ugly? Am I weird? Do people like me? Will boys ever ask me out? What should I do if one does ask me out? She was a marvelous, fully developed character who could be spiteful, hypocritical, and mean-spirited sometimes without losing our sympathy because we understood why she was acting that way. Now she's Eva Marie Saint with a Scottish accent. The book's fans, understandably, feel somewhat betrayed. What does Rahne do between stories? We used to feel like this was a sensible question. Now it's perfectly, painfully obvious she's just a blob of ink being hustled through an adventure. There's no reason to care about her.
Louise Simonson does make some characterization effort in this arc, especially focused on Rictor and Boom Boom, but comes off, as the letter-writer says, as "dim background noise" during all the running around in the Asgardian plot.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: If you thought you read the New Mutants talking about the events of this issue in New Mutants annual #5, you need to get your eyes checked. It never happened. This series takes place during Acts of Vengeance, which takes place after Atlantis Attacks, so this arc must take place after. That cluster of a placement also demands an explanation for Dr. Strange here, since he's pretending to be dead. As i suggested in Atlantis Attacks, it's possible that Strange was still having second thoughts about revealing that he was alive again, and so he didn't reveal himself to the New Mutants. Plus, Silver Dagger's nasty case of pinkeye is really hard to treat, which is why he's wearing the patch again. As for that reference to Thor #413, i'm not so sure i can honor it. I think Thor is unavailable because of the events of Acts of Vengeance.
This issue begins concurrently with X-Factor #41-42, with the New Mutants dropping off young Illyana Rasputin with her mother in Russia while X-Factor is on a mission in England. In issue #78 we see Ship getting pulled into space for Judgment War concurrent with the scene from X-Factor #43. Freedom Force's appearance here should be before Uncanny X-Men #254-255. The New Mutants remain in Asgard at the end of this arc, but they have rested and time passes before next issue, where they are flipped to the subplots while Rusty and Skids becomes the main story.
Issue #81 was a fill-in and is included in a separate entry.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAlexandra Rasputina, Avalanche, Balder, Blob, Boom Boom, Brightwind, Buri, Cannonball, Crimson Commando, Destiny, Dr. Strange, Eitri, Executioner, Fandral, Garm, Harokin, Hela, Hildy, Hogun, Hrimhari, Illyana Rasputin (Alt-Limbo version), Karnilla, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Mist, Mystique, Odin, Pyro, Rictor, Rusty Collins, Ship (Prosh), Skids, Stonewall, Sunspot, Super Sabre, Tinkerer, Toothgnasher, Toothgrinder, Vizier, Volstagg, Vulture, Warlock, Wolfsbane, Wong
Horrible storyline, "Nuff Said".
Posted by: clyde | November 11, 2014 3:34 PM
This is insane madness of the worst kind. I can't see how this can get...
(sees Liefeld in the "next issue cover") NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 11, 2014 3:45 PM
I'm ready for Liefeld as well at this point. Good or bad at least it wasn't boring. Louise stayed on the book too long. I'll wait until we get to her last issue before commenting on the politics and all the behind-the-scenes drama but I am perplexed she was allowed to stay on the title as long as she did. Claremont stayed too long, as well, but the two aren't comparable beyond that. Claremont WAS the X-Men, for all intents & purposes. Louise was just a writer and not a great one. So I'm baffled as to her being allowed to stay on a popular (still?) X-title when she was clearly out of ideas.
Posted by: Robert | November 11, 2014 7:53 PM
The sad part is that Liefeld will be an IMPROVEMENT. On both the art and the writing (I suspect that may be because Liefeld and Simonson together ended up tempering each other's flaws)
Oh yeah, This story: crap. The Rusty/Skids stuff wasn't too bad though. Especially since Rusty barely gets the spotlight as it is.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 11, 2014 8:27 PM
Strange states the Eye of Agamotto has been destroyed but there's no story around this time where that was the case. Maybe Simonson was thinking of the ORB of Agamotto, which was destroyed in Dr. Strange 81?
Posted by: Michael | November 11, 2014 9:07 PM
I'm not so sure the X-Factor #41-42 placement matters. I mean, i could move it since there's no dependencies in the other direction. But since we don't know where Beast and Jean were whisked away from in Atlantis Attacks, it's entirely possible that X-Factor was still in England and Beast and Jean returned there to meet up with everyone else after Atlantis Attacks. That might even explain why Cyclops, Iceman, and Archangel weren't around to help out.
Regarding Hela, she didn't steal the souls, right? Malekith did. I can definitely see Hela being the sort that wouldn't want to give something back once she had it.
I don't want to try to place this while the Orb of Agamotto was destroyed, so let's just pretend that Dr. Strange means that the Eye is temporarily on the fritz for some reason.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 11, 2014 9:44 PM
There was a lot not to like here. But I remember being most disappointed by the fact that we didn't get a chance to see X-Factor take the baton from Professor X and becomes teachers for the next generation of mutants. That's what NM 76 and XF 41 seemed to be setting up. I'd hoped that maybe, just maybe, there'd be a little less darkness than in FoM and Inferno. Instead, I got a couple mediocre (at best) off-world epics that pretty much nixed that just as it was getting started, and played havoc with continuity to boot. Major bummer.
Posted by: Matt | November 12, 2014 1:59 AM
My guess is that Harras put the kibosh on the direction Matt spells out, a direction that would have made a lot of sense with Louise Simonson writing both books, and she was already introducing a lot of young mutants in X-Factor, such as the Lost Boys and Girls. The Inferno babies might have factored into this direction as well.
It's notable that X-Factor has no direction at all even after the return to earth: we get another overlong, irrelevant storyline e, this time about pseudo-vampires. Louise was capable of better plotting, so I suspect she had no choice but to write filler adventures.
New Mutants only stumbles into a direction by chance, it seems, when Cable becomes a breakout character. Or did editorial always have confidence in that direction? The book does commit to it very quickly, with Cable-centric stories right after he's introduced.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 12, 2014 2:15 AM
Michael wrote: "Fnord, even though the story states that X-Factor's still in England for X-Factor 41-42, you have Beast's and Jean's appearances in Atlantis Attacks in between those issues and this story."
Since it doesn't say where Jean & Beast were when they were kidnapped in Atlantis Attacks, they could easily have been kidnapped from England (while Cyclops went to Muir Island to battle Master Mold, leaving Iceman & Archangel to watch the baby.) which is what the MCP decided with that placement.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 12, 2014 3:16 AM
Walter, Nicieza said in an interview that Cable was intended as a shot in the arm for the New Mutants when he was introduced.
Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2014 7:48 AM
Michael - this is the same team that didn't bother to follow up on Scott's wife and daughter for a long time. IMO, I don't think it's a stretch to believe they don't really have it in them to solve problems like these.
Posted by: clyde | November 12, 2014 9:38 AM
I'll comment more on this when those relevant issues come up, but since that subplot begins here, I start talking about it now.
Michael are we sure that the New Mutants even KNOW about the Inferno kids? I mean the only people who seem to react to Blob's confession are Rusty and Skids. This then plays heavily into their subsequent Acts of Vengeance storyline (part of the reason for chasing after Vulture is so they use the heroic publicity to tell the media about the babies. In fact I suspect that this is the only reason this revelation is even here is so Simonson can give R&S something to do. Of course Freedom Force distorts the story so that it looks like an escaped convict commuting terrorist acts.) No one else seems to talk about the babies. This makes me wonder if any of the other New Mutants maybe didn't hear or pay attention to what Blob was saying. Since Rusty and Skids separate from everyone with this story, that would account for everyone not dealing with a problem they don't really know about. To me the BIGGER problem is the lack of hustle in dealing with Rusty and Skids on the part of the X-Factor or Whatshisname.
Also, note that we get the beginning of Cannonball/Boom-Boom relationship.
Speaking of Acts of Vengeance, I'm curious as to why NM #86 isn't included in this bunch of issues since it the ending part of the AoV mentioned here. Is it that the cameo appearance of you-know-who (drawn by you-know-who) deserves it's own post?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 13, 2014 12:43 AM
Jon, maybe fnord can post the relevant panels so we can look at it more clearly but the problem is that Skids tells the other New Mutants "Go on! Get Dani to the Ship--save her! And then you tell X-Factor that Freedom Force still has the babies and that they're planning to exploit them." and Sam replies "You got it, Skids!" and the New Mutants take off. Then Mystique sends Avalanche and Crimson Commando after the kids because she doesn't want X-Factor to learn the information yet. The obvious interpretation of that sequence is that the New Mutants know.
Posted by: Michael | November 13, 2014 7:55 AM
The reason i broke up the story is because it seems like some time passes and it's a good place to break up the narrative as the Asgard story finishes and the Vulture story takes center stage. Enough time passes that the Vulture makes it from the prison to the Tinkerer's place, and it seems like it's gone from day to night between issues. On the other hand, i concede that Rusty and Skids are still in the prison yard, but who knows how long they stood there under Skid's forcefield trying to decide what to do and/or convince the prison guards that the Vulture had escaped and was the bigger threat. In any event, it just seemed like a good way to break up a very lengthy entry, especially when we're in Acts of Vengeance and there's a lot of concurrent stuff going on.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 13, 2014 7:56 AM
The art in the panels Michael cites is particularly unexciting, so i don't think i'll post those scans, but i confirm that Michael's quotes are right.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 13, 2014 7:58 AM
Yeah, personally at this point, bring on Leifeld. If nothing else, at least there will be some consistent art.
The problem with this book is an extension of the problems with X-Men. But Claremont brought in all these subplots and you had the feeling that, given enough time, he would address all of them. But Simonson just keeps piling on subplots without any sense that she would ever do anything about any of them.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 20, 2015 9:09 AM
Its said in a OHOTMU that Mist (the valkyrie who helps the New Mutants) is really another name of Kirsta, the valkyrie appeared in Thor #217, sister of Hildegarde.
Posted by: Moira Brandon | May 19, 2016 7:51 AM
Can you say which Handbook, Moira? I see them still being listed as separate characters in places like the Marvel Appendix and the Marvel Wiki, so if i'm going to merge them i need to be able to cite my source.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 19, 2016 7:58 AM
New Mutants 79 really makes me cringe because Boom Boom acts so out if character. I mean, she befriended the Beyonder, went dimension hopping with the Fallen Angels and fought N'Astirh and hordes of demons firsthand... and suddenly Asgard is what gets to her?
Posted by: Spikey | December 8, 2016 11:26 AM
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