New Mutants # 26 - 31 (Dec '84 - May '85)
#26 - 28 gives us a journey into Legion's mind
#29 - 31 brings back Karma as the heroes head into a gladiator arena
NM 26 - 28: Legion
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Bill Sienkiewicz
We start with a quick check-in with Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander. If you recall, this was the cop and nurse respectively who were brought into the Demon Bear universe. When they were brought back, they were transformed into that of Native Americans. I didn't realize until this panel that they were essentially transformed into Super Heroes as well. It looks as though they both have Super Strength. I wonder if we'll ever see them doing super hero things or if they'll remain as human helpers like Stevie. (Like usual, I genuinely don't know).
This arc is going to focus on Legion, who we already know is secretly Charles Xavier's son. In this scene he is floating above his bed yelling and affecting the world around him. Tom and Sharon are left alive, but comatose afterwards.
If you recall, James Proudstar (Thunderbird/Warpath) had kidnapped Banshee so here we see Moira being thrilled to see him returned. Moira is also Rahne's ward and we see Rahne here feeling sad that her mother character is more excited to see Banshee than her.
I put these two panels in here for 3 reasons. First, we see that Tom and Sharon are in a coma. Second, Charles is reunited with Gabrielle Haller (Legion's mother and his former lover). Third, remember I have a man crush on JAMIE MADROX for some reason? He's one of the Muir Island Misfits.
Charles tries to enter Legion's (David Haller) mind, but is quickly expelled.
Moira and Rahne are in the room with David when a mental image appears, speaking in Arabic. This is quickly followed by an explosion where Moria and Rahne are left comatose as well, but still alive.
Charles decides that the only way to save Tom, Sharon, Moira, and Rahne is to enter David's mind again with Dani, Doug, and Gabrielle Haller.
David realizes here that Charles is his father and that's when he figures it out too.
So here we learn why David is called Legion. Apparently David suffers from multiple personalities (dissociative identity disorder).
This is the inside of David's mind, which appears to be Paris.
Charles meets the first personality, Jack Wayne. Jack is a charismatic character who is a bit like a cowboy (probably John Wayne without trademarking issues).
Gabrielle, Dani, and Doug meet the next personality Cyndi. She is more of an immature teenager who is very impulsive.
The final personality is Jemail, referred to often as "The Arab." We learn that a few years ago David, Gabrielle, and a "friend" named Daniel were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. Daniel was killed in front of David and he responded by creating a mental explosion. Apparently one of the terrorists, Jemail, had his personality absorbed by David. This persona is portrayed as the antagonist.
Dani uses her Psi powers to make a connection with Jemail, who we learn is actually not "the big bad" of the personalities.
Dani actually becomes the hero of this story. She works with Jemail to learn that Jack Wayne is actually the villain here. They work together to undermine him and the result is freeing him (at least temporarily) from this personality.
A lot of little things happen, but the important point is that eventually everyone escapes from David's psyche and he is at least temporarily freed and has this heartfelt embrace with his dad.
NM 29 - 31: American Gladiators
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Bill Sienkiewicz
This issue starts weird with Sam flying through the world with Illyana in a bathing suit. Apparently someone had kidnapped Amara and Roberto and they are chasing after them.
On a quick note here, this is not the first time that Illyana has been shown in a bathing suit or otherwise scantily clothed outfit. My guess is that Claremont is trying to find ways to show that she has a dark streak, so making her come across "frisky" is one way to accomplish that.
Since they know their friends are being taken to an arena, Sam decides to ask Lila Cheney if she knows anything about this.
I almost missed this one. Lila's helper (butler?) is Guido Carosella, AKA Strong Guy. I personally know VERY LITTLE about this character, but I recognize him as being a member of X-Factor (the second incarnation of this team). I'm really curious how this random character ends up working his way into one of the main X-Men teams.
Since it's a small world, it turns out that one of Lila's backup singers was Dazzler. Apparently she was hiding her identity to get work since no one wants to hire a mutant. She knows exactly where Roberto and Amara went from her time in the Beauty and the Beast miniseries.
I'm breezing through most of these issues, but essentially Amara and Roberto are forced to fight in the same arena Dazzler needed to fight on.
Since Marvel is committed to making Dazzler look unappealing, she ditches the rescue effort in favor of rejoining the competition herself. When are they going to start making me like Dazzler? From what I understand, she becomes a lovable character but I haven't seen it yet.
Magneto shows up to save the kids, however they don't go with him. (More on this when we start getting into Secret Wars 2).
Kitty shows up to save the kids as well and reads Dazzler's diary, seeing that she is making the "tough" choice to abandon the fame that comes with fighting in the arena.
At the very end, we find that Karma was the new proprietor of the Arena. The entire next arc is focused on learning what happened to Karma since they last saw her, how did she gain so much weight, why is she acting evil, etc.
I loved the FX show, Legion, so it's great to see more this character. The story was just as trippy as the show, so there's that. I'm also glad Karma's back, but this was quite the odd re-introduction to that character.
Chris Claremont continues on with some trippy stories courtesy of Bill Sienkiewicz. I will mostly refer you to my comments regarding the art from his first appearance during the Demon Bear saga, however I recently came across an interview with Bill Sienkiewicz on CBR.com that got me thinking about his story arcs. One thing Bill had to say was:
"We got letters. We probably lost as many people as we gained. We had some people writing in saying, "This is amazing, this wonderful, it's really changed" to "Stop him, Jim, before he kills again." Flip the coin and you'd get as many responses [for as against]. [T]he thing I liked about it, it wasn't apathetic. It was polarizing. I tended to appreciate that."
I really appreciated reading this because it mirrored some of my own thinking. I personally struggled a bit and had to have a mind shift in order to enjoy it. I had read every X-Men comic in a row and while the art would change, nothing was as different as this. To me, it took me out of my comfort zone and that made me uncomfortable. However, it did get me thinking about the New Mutants comic more than any others at the time. His art got me to stop going through in the same way and begin wondering what other people thought of this. My initial thought was that I wasn't comfortable, but if Marvel will publish this, then perhaps I'm just not cultured enough to enjoy it.
Later in the interview he said he left New Mutants because:
"As much latitude as Chris was allowing me, there were constraints in terms of telling his story."
This was fascinating as well because Claremont and Simonson have talked about how they created stories specifically for him. They ran with the demon bear, Legion, and a surreal Karma story because played in well with his style. I can understand though that eventually Claremont would want to get back into more traditional storytelling.
As shown earlier, Rahne got upset that Moira was neglecting her in favor of Sean (Banshee). However, as you can see above, Moira makes a big deal of reinforcing that she considers Rahne to be her daughter. It's a great scene, until they got blown up by Legion shortly after this.
This wasn't anything huge, but I found it hilarious. Warlock is having a conversation with the Blackbird as if it's his friend. I'm not sure if he truly thinks it's alive or not, but I don't care because this was a great chuckle!
For a long time, I had no idea why we kept checking in with Magneto during New Mutants. I know now and you'll find out soon! But this panel shows us that Lee and him have fallen in love. She is nursing him back to health in the creepy floating island while he slowly gets his health and powers back.
The above panel was from a much earlier issue setting up that it was Empath (that asshole) who set up Magma and Sunspot to be kidnapped.
We also got another check in with the Hellions with Empath trying to manipulate the White Queen and her freaking out and actually taking away his powers.
My Rating - 3/10
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