New Mutants Volume 1, #18 - 21, NM Annual # 1
Right off the bat, I need to talk about new series illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz. I have a feeling that my opinion is going to be sacrilegious among X-Men fans, but I am having a really hard time with it. Now there are definitely some trippy story lines, like this Demon Bear arc, where it is probably good to have trippy art. Maybe I'm just not cultured enough to get it. Regardless, I'm just struggling to follow along with the story due this dynamic visual storytelling.
New Mutants was not the big seller out of the gates that Marvel was hoping for, so that opened the door to try different storytelling approaches. In the documentary "Claremont's X-Men," Editor in Chief Jim Shooter said:
"After a little slightly rocky start, that (New Mutants) became a real, interesting book. It had become our experimental book with Bill Sienkiewicz doing fantastic, weird, crazy artsy stuff. "
Claremont knew there was something unique here that pushed him to change this style, as evidenced by what he had to say in Comic Creators on X-Men:
"When Bill Sienkiewicz came aboard, it was suddenly like ‘Holy Toledo, this is crazy! "
X-Men Editor Ann Nocenti expanded on the thinking around this time by saying the following in the documentary "Claremont's X-Men:"
The energy that built when we decided to put Bill Sienkiewicz on the New Mutants was extraordinary because Bill is so deeply intelligent and passionate, he has a billion ideas.”
I don’t think we would have done the stories we did with Warlock, for instance, because we knew that Bill would just run with it.
In an interview with Bill Sienkiwiecz on CBR, he talked about recruited by Claremont himself:
"Yeah, he's the one that came to me. He asked me if I wanted to do the Demon Bear story. He said he thought I'd be great for that. I was offered the X-Men after I left Moon Knight. I turned it down because I felt like it was too high profile of a book. Today people kill to be able to do that book. But I felt that I didn't want to do another group. Moon Knight to me -- even though it was one character -- was a group, dealing with all of his multiple personalities. When Chris gave me the plot outline I felt like I was going to play with it. Somewhere along the line, he asked if I'd like to do this on a little more regular basis. I said, "Yeah, I'm having fun." So I felt like while I was deciding what I was going to do next, I would do the New Mutants. The main thing is, I felt I could play around a lot."
New Mutants 18 - 21: The Demon Bear; Warlock
Enter Warlock. Warlock is an alien artificial intelligence who eventually joins the New Mutants. Here we see that his dad, Magus, is trying to kill him and he is fleeing. We'll learn more about this as the story progresses.
Dani can sense that the Demon Bear who killed her parents has been nearby and only she can kill him. She goes out into the snow with a bow and arrow to kill the beast. She thinks she's successful, but she was very wrong.
The bear leaves Dani gutted, hanging on to life.
The New Mutants rush her to the hospital.
While in the waiting room, Rahne tries on Dani's Native American belt and for some reason it helps her find a brand new form. I'm embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I realized Rahne looked a lot like this character Wolfsbane who joins X-Factor in a number of years. I never read X-Factor, but I recognized the character, however I never knew this was her. Now I know!
Random check in with Lilandra, Binary, and the Starjammers as they see Warlock's ship heading for earth but realize there is nothing they can do.
The New Mutants realize that they need to protect Dani because the Demon Bear (still no idea what this thing is) is trying to sneak in the hospital to finish her off.
When Illyana gets clawed, her elbow turns into some sort of magical Eldrich armor. This is the first time this happens. I'm still learning more about this but it appears that this armor randomly appears in fights to protect her and continues to spread. No idea where this is going.
The Demon bear teleports the New Mutants and a random nurse and cop into some magical real, giving Bill Sienkiewicz more of an excuse to write abstract. I still barely understand what is happening.
Magik realizes that her soulsword can disband magic and when she strikes at the Demon Bear, she actually ends it.
It turns out that Dani's parents (who were presumed dead) were inside of the Demon Bear. Or they were the Demon Bear. Something. I don't really get it. Also, the random cop and nurse come out of the demon bear transformed into Native Americans, which is also weird.
Storm brings the Morlock healer to Dani and cures her most of the way.
After the Demon Bear saga is complete, the New Mutants decide to throw a raging slumber party in the mansion.
Magik decides to put makeup on Rahne and force her to go through a makeover. Here's a question...Illyana was 7 a few months ago. Who the hell taught her how to apply makeup!?
Sam sees Rahne later and doesn't recognize her, which pisses her off beyond belief.
Here comes Warlock, crashing to the ground.
We see that Warlock has the ability to transform any living thing into a technological product, which gives him the ability to absorb it's life energy to feed. For a number of panels he is confused and killing things and the New Mutants fight him.
Eventually they realize he is actually young and can communicate (due to the help of Doug Ramsey) and they decide that he should join their team.
New Mutants Annual # 1: A Rocking Good time
Another pretty dumb story...
We see Dani going through physical therapy with Stevie. Healer helped her most of the way, but she is still in a wheelchair with a long recovery ahead of her.
The kids get tickets to a rock concert where they are excited to watch (and meet) the lead singer, Lila Cheney.
Someone tries to kill her and Sam dives in last minute to save her life.
It turns out the culprit is some alien guy.
It turns out that Lila is both a criminal and a mutant. Her mutant ability is far reaching teleportation. While she is human, she spends most of her time in this alien Dyson Sphere. Her latest heist is trying to sell earth...or something. Don't ask me to explain.
Warlock can transform his body into anything, including a fricken space ship which he uses to fly the team to the Dyson Sphere.
Lila is very grateful for Sam saving her life and actually goes as far as to convince him to dress like a punk rocker. These two hook up and their relationship continues for quite some time (much to the chagrin of Rahne who has a crush on him.). While Lila does continue to have a presence, I'm not sure if she'll end up being an important player or just a one hit wonder. Time will tell!
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