New Mutants, Volume 1 # 4 -12
This blog focuses on New Mutants, Volume 1 # 4 - 12. Issue # 4 showed the team saving Stevie from a stalker, 5 - 6 introduced Viper and Silver Samurai and Team America (kill me now), and 7 - 12 tells the story of Nova Roma. I'll try to move fast so we can get past this. We do get the exit of Karma and an introduction to Magma and Selene though, so not all hope is lost.
Woah boy. This is bad. Really bad. Team America, really!? Nova Roma, really!? Also, are we really getting rid of a character of color and replacing her with a Blonde, white girl? I didn't really like Karma, but still.
In my opinion, this is black mark on Claremont's record. Sal Buscema's art is good, not great.
One positive note is that while this particular story is pretty bad, it still highlights the type of Tserialized storytelling which some can argue were invented by Claremont. This type of storytelling was really unique in it's day, which Louise Simonson (editor and future New Mutants writer) commented on in a 2014 essay in a UXM Omnibus # 3.
Generally speaking, the X-Men books...aren’t [modern]. In current parlance, ‘modern’ seems to be a code word for ‘decompressed,’ meaning leisurely tales with plenty of pages where people have long conversations and not a lot happens.
The Uncanny X-Men of the 1980s were anything but. Chris’s very compressed comics delivered story – lots of story. They told you clearly and dramatically what you needed to know to understand what was happening.
And if they used more words than is currently fashionable, your 60 cents – or in the case of the graphic novels, six bucks – bought you a whole lot of exciting entertainment. In X-Men comics, even the minor characters think, feel passionately, question.
My Rating and Review
1/10 - This is bad as it gets. Did I mention Team America?
Synopsis of 4 - 6: (Saving Stevie, Silver Samurai, Team America?)
Issue # 4 opens up with Stevie getting a prank call, which is one of many.
The team is invited to party with other kids their ages. In addition to the kids having fun, they have a lead that Stevie's harasser may be here.
It turns out that it's some nerdy kid from her dance class.
After using their combined powers to hunt him down, he admits that he is in love with Stevie and had been stalking her. We also get some backstory about him being beat by his dad and it's pretty messed up and frankly unnecessary considering we'll likely never see this kid again. This is it...that's the end of Issue # 4. Hopefully the next one gets better...
Oh hell no. This next issue is definitely not any better than the last one. We get introduced to some terrible group of stunt performers called TEAM AMERICA (Fuck yea!).
When I was reading these issues, I literally could not believe how stupid this was. It turns out that these cool dudes are all mutants with the ability to create a "Dark Rider" using their combined mental powers or something dumb like that. Professor X even chooses to take Team America on a secret mission and leaves the kids to their own devices (a dumb choice).
I did a little research and it turns out that Team America was introduced as part of a toy deal, similar to Dazzler. I'm actually relieved to hear this because it means that Claremont and the rest of the creative team were basically forced to incorporate this dogshit idea. I guess the toys had already been produced as part of an Evil Knievel toy set, but after he had some legal trouble the company was trying to find a different way to sell them.
One positive thing about this issue is that Team America is attacked and we are introduced to Silver Samurai and his boss, Viper. Silver Samurai has some staying power as a B list X-Men enemy and an A-List Wolverine villain.
A fight breaks out and the New Mutants try to take on the Silver Samurai, with each failing spectacularly. He teleports away and we don't see him for a bit.
For whatever reason, the team decides they need to track down the Silver Samurai to stop him. Shan brings up that there is one criminal she knows well, her uncle Nguyen Ngoc Coy. So they crash into his place.
Shan possesses him and has him stand on the ledge of his high rise. She tries to scare him into giving up the intel they need, but he knows she won't kill him so he digs in.
He eventually says that he will provide the information they need, but that he will only give it up for a price. He wants her to work for him for a year as his brother did to help him expand his criminal empire and she accepts. I have a lot of issues with this. First, why do you think he is the only one they can get answers from?! Second, as far as I know, this never ends up actually coming to pass so I'm not sure why it's even included here. Perhaps it comes up much further into the New Mutants run (I've read through Issue #25), but I highly doubt it. We'll have to see!
They eventually find Viper and the Silver Samurai. A fight breaks out and the New Mutants win, however both escape.
In the middle of the fight, Shan is assaulted by a strong telepath and to this day (through Issue #25 is where I've read to) I still have no idea what this about.
As the SS and Viper are escaping, they decide to kill all of the New Mutants by blowing up the island they were on.
Shan falls into the ocean and they believe her to be dead.
Roberto's mom shows up and mentions that the New Mutants are invited to go with her on an expedition in the Amazon. Charles tells the kids that Shan is dead and that they should go to get their mind off of things.
We see later that Xavier knows she is alive, but purposely let them believe she is dead (shady!) because there is a powerful telepath after her and he wants them far away.
So at this point, Shan legitimately disappears from the team. I still haven't seen her re-appear so I'm starting to wonder if she's gone forever. To me this seemed awfully familiar to when Banshee was taking out of the equation. Shan wasn't getting many panels and it's obvious that she wasn't a favorite of the creative team. I guess I must admit that I connected least with her myself. This may not have been such a potent issue if they didn't immediately replace her with a white girl in the next story arc...
Issues 7 - 12: Nova Roma
The New Mutants arrive in Brazil with Roberto's mom and we quickly learn that the dude is rich. Super rich. No wonder he's a twit.
Everyone is invited to a very fancy and awkward dinner with his parents, Nina and Emmanuel. It's clear that his father does not want them going on this journey to the middle of the Amazon. It's unclear at this point of the reason for his concern, but we'll find out later as Emmanuel becomes a big player in the Marvel X-Verse.
The kids get to play dress up as they go out on the town. This won't be the last time that Dani dresses skimpy or that Rahne is put in a situation to dress more elegant, putting pressure on her conservative views.
Oh no! Roberto's mom is kidnapped by the Hellfire Club!
Some unforgettable villain named Axe shows up and stops the team from pursuing. I was starting to wonder if the New Mutants would get any original villains but if this is what the comic line is going to give us, I'm ok with more Sentinels and Hellfire Club.
As the kids infiltrate the Hellfire Club's hideout, Dani uses her skills in a new way to distract the guards. Instead of pulling out terrible nightmare's, she is able to project out their desires.
They eventually find Nina and Sunspot lands the final blow on Axe, freeing his madre. Now the trip can get back on schedule!
Oh no, Emmanuel Dacosta is pushing to become a member of the Hellfire Club's Inner circle! There is something deep in the Amazon that he doesn't want his wife to find.
Arriving in the Amazon, Dani finds another way to expand her powers. She creates the illusion of a snow storm to help Rahne lower her body temperature.
Sam and Dani encounter a tribe of primitive locals. They try to attack the pair but are easily scared away. Sam holds on to the one who led the attack.
The captain of the ship is murdered and the whole crew goes over a waterfall.
Rahne reaches out a hand to the local, named Amara, and is shocked what happens.
It turns out that she is actually a white chick and was hiding her identity. This is something that was very jarring and took me out of the comic. The group is already multi-racial and they start bonding with Amara, so why can't she just stay brown!?
Roberto is distraught that they can't go after his mom. This is a common trope that never lands well with me. It reminds me of when Gandalf was hanging off the ledge and Aragorn stops Frodo from pulling him up. We're talking about a bunch of heroes who constantly put their lives on the line to help others, why can't they go after his mom. Well, the answer is as obvious with Gandalf as it is here...they want this character to die (or at least appear as if she dies).
Ok...so I wasn't expecting this? Who had "The New Mutants would be captured by Romans in the middle of the Amazon" on their New Mutants bingo card? Anyone, anyone!? Didn't think so.
Ok. So apparently there is a hidden Roman Empire in the middle of the Amazon. We are led to believe that Rome had set up an outpost here that continued Roman culture without every advancing since they were cut off from the modern world. Sorry, but this is lame! When is Magik going to join to spice things up!?
This is what Roberto's mom had heard whispers of and had set out to discover. This is also what Roberto's dad had been trying to keep the crew from discovering. The awkward dinner conversation, abduction by Hellfire (and Axe), and the boat disaster were all attempts to stop them from getting here.
Still not sitting well with Amara not only being a secret white girl, but the daughter of someone really important in Nova Roma.
With all this dumb Roman stuff going on, the introduction of Selene is huge. At this point we learn that she is the wife of one of the leading Roman Senators, but she is so much more and will have staying power into the main Uncanny X-Men comic line!
Dani and Rahne are drugged, dressed up as fancy romans, and forced to watch Sam and Roberto battle in the coliseum.
Being mutants, the Roman chariots didn't stand much of a chance.
Dani and Rahne come down to help and the Romans decide that Rahne and her mutant friends must be Gods and things turn around for them.
Roberto sees that his mom is still alive!
Ok, so it turns out that Selene is a centuries old mutant who keeps her youth intact by throwing innocent civilians into a fiery pit and stealing their life essence. So, a pretty straightforward evil sorceress.
Selene gets ready to push Amara into the lava as well. She reveals that she killed Amara's mother as well, which is a sticking point we will hear about plenty in the future.
When Amara hits the lava her dormant mutation turns on and she appears as Magma, a mutant who can control seismic activity, volaco's, lava, and magma!
Meanwhile, Amara's dad kills the evil Roman senator who had been conspiring with Roberto's dad and his wife Selene to do a bunch of evil stuff in Nova Roma.
After a battle, Roberto tosses Selene into the pit and seals her in it. Will it be the last we see of Selene?
After this is all done, Roberto surprises his dad at his office and confronts him about everything. They have a fight and Roberto promises never to speak to him again.
Dani takes Amara to a beach to see what the modern world looks like and relax. We quickly learn that Amara is a hot head. Lol. No, for real. She is very uptight, conservative, and uppity. When a random dude tries to kiss her, she freaks out and starts destroying the city.
Volcano's are popping up everywhere and for a while, all hope seems lost.
Eventually she calms down with the help of her friends. This is when she decides that she needs to learn how to control her powers. From this point on, she becomes the 5th member of the New Mutants.
Next Post - 21: UXM 174 - 180 (Mastermind and Mystique)