The New Warriors # 1 - 5, New Mutants Annual # 7, New Warriors Annual # 1, X-Men Annual # 15, X-Factor Annual # 6
New Mutants Annual # 7: Really? The Alliance of Evil, again?
Hey, it's our young friends! Been a while since we've seen Leach, Artie, and Taki. I have this feeling we won't see them for a while. I just have this feeling they won't have a big place in the re-boot.
Here they see the Alliance of Evil shepherding two members, Harness and Piecemeal, to the site.
Piecemeal uses some sort of electronic whip to force a young mutant named Piecemeal to absorb energy for the atmosphere. We don't know much more than this at this point.
Taki wakes up at the hospital and sees a cool pinup of the New Mutants. However, I believe Taki only met Sam and Tabi. The other 5 (Cable, Domino, Warpath, Feral, and Shatterstar) would all be new to him. This is also the only time I've ever seen Feral smiling.
The Alliance of evil shows up again with Piecemeal continuing to absorb this strange energy.
This time X-Force (Yea I know technically this is still a New Mutants comic, but they are X-Force at this time) does their characteristic jumping out of a helicopter to help. This team is a bunch of badasses, so that's how they fight.
The Alliance of Evil is defeated and tells the team that a company called Genetech hired them. Harness and Piecemeal escape.
As X-Force infiltrates Genetech, the come across The new Warriors defending the company. This leads us right into New Warriors Annual # 1.
This annual included a cool chart that showed every member of the New Mutants over time and which era (Xavier, Magneto, Cable) they associated with. I'll dive into this more in an upcoming New Mutants retrospective blog.
A cool Liefeld pinup included of the X-Force team.
Art Thibert also created a pinup. He must have drawn this months earlier because Wolfsbane, Rictor, Sunspot, and Warlock are included with Feral, Warpath, Shatterstar, and Domino missing.
New Warriors Annual # 1: You know I love me some new characters
Before we get into The New Warriors Annual # 1, let's meet The New Warriors roster.
Night Thrasher is a brand new character for this series with a badass design. He doesn't have any powers, but he is a great fighter and the person responsible for bringing the team together. He is similar to Batman in that he is a normal human with money and resources, so he uses that skill to bring the team together. He's characterized as a little too aggressive and continues to hurt enemies and be a little too open to killing compared to his team-mates. He may be the oldest member of the team in his late twenties or early thirties.
Namorita is the cousin to Namor. Similar to Namor, she can fly, has super strength, and the ability to breath underwater. She's characterized as a beautiful, cocky, young, but wise hero who attends college when not fighting crime.
Hey, remember Firestar!? We know her from the X-Men world her own miniseries (which I covered in 28: X-Men Miniseries). Firestar is an incredibly shy teenage mutant super hero with the ability to control microwaves. She hasn't had much characterization in the first 5 issues, which I think is a huge miss.
Marvel Boy is another teenage mutant with telekinesis. I actually know Marvel Boy quite well as there is an alternate version of him whose mutant power didn't manifest until later in life when he was an astronaut put into suspended animation for a thousand years. This older persona is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which happens to be one of my favorite comics of all time (The only one I had ever read completely through in my younger years) and will certainly be getting it's own blog focus in the future. This version of the character is shown as being incredibly talented, but a little too ambitious as he strolled into Avengers mansion hoping to join their team and ended up settling for The New Warriors. That happens to be a pretty accurate description of this team. Heroes who weren't quite good enough for the Avengers or X-Men.
Speedball is another spunky teenager with the ability to travel at great velocity and create kinetic speedballs. He's a goofy, but funny character who has to sneak out of his parents house to join the team on missions.
Kid Nova is another young (maybe early twenties?) super hero who is your typical overpowered cosmic superhero (Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, flight, etc.) I'm still waiting to learn more about him, however I do know the goes on to play a big role in Marvel Comics after The New Warriors.
We get a cool splash page here by Mark Bagley depicting the two teams. In typical comic book fashion, the two team's face off for a while before settling their differences and working together.
Firestar recognizes Cannonball, which is a nice touch. If you recall, they shared an intimate moment in the pages of New Mutants, so I like that that wasn't forgotten. Unfortunately, we don't get anything else out of that other than this quick mention.
The two team's fighting. Standard fare. The strongest members face off (Warpath/Namorita), the skilled warriors with weapons face off (Shatterstar/Night Thrasher), the flyers face off (Cannonball/Nova) and so on.
While the Alliance of Evil told X-Force that this company Genetech was behind their actions, they owners of Genetech (who are featured heavily in the New Warriors comic) claim that they were just middle men and not behind everything.
Even though the rest of the Alliance of Evil is defeated, Harness continues dragging Piecemeal around the world and forcing him to absorb this energy.
Here we see the two team team's sitting around talking, which is the stuff I love.
Putting all the pieces together, Cable figures out that they are trying to re-create Proteus (one of my favorite storylines as chronicled in 69: Favorites as of 1990). Piecemeal is absorbing Proteus energy from around the world in an attempt to put him back together. Proteus was originally covered by me in 8: UXM 125 - 128 (Proteus!).
X-Men Annual # 15: Proteus!
What a jip! We don't even get the real X-Men in this Annual. It's the Muir Island castoffs instead.
There is a mention here that the Shadow King loosens his hold. Basically he wants this group to act closer to normal to not raise any alarms until they leave and he will tighten his hold.
I love this. Cannonball commenting on how their team needs more flyers. (Maybe that's why Siryn joins the team early into X-Force).
Piecemeal gets fatter and fatter as he absorbs more Proteus energy.
Here's the three team's gathering on Muir Island trying to determine how to do.
I don't think Namorita typically prances around in thong, so not sure why she would be drawn that way here.
The Muir Island X-Men try to control Piecemeal, but it doesn't work.
Peicemeal blows up, releasing Proteus.
As these issues are continuing, we see that there are two powerful people in the background planning everything. These are the Kings of Pain.
X-Factor Annual # 6: You tell him, Cable!
With Proteus released, it's time to bring in the A squad, X-Factor.
It turns out that Harness was actually Piecemeal's mom. That's pretty messed up! Harness and the Alliance of Evil were actually hired by A.I.M. to re-create Proteus. And we now know that the mysterious Kings of Pain are behind all of this. The new being, which is a combination of the original Proteus and Piecemeal refers to his "Two mothers: Moira and Harness."
Another pinup of the 3 teams. I love these.
They decide to use the team telepaths (Jean, Legion) to control Proteus.
Proteus is having his way with them, using his reality distorting power to torture them all. Proteus seems pretty miserable.
So Scott, being the ruthless leader he is, basically suggests that they should suggest that Proteus kill himself. We did learn that Proteus was finally at peace while dead and he is in pain now that he's alive again.
After a long, final speech, Proteus does commit suicide, ending the conflict. I never understand how these villains things they are going to control things like this!?
Holy shit. You see what's happening here, right? At this point it is well known to the writers that Cable is baby Nathan, recently sent into the future. Before any readers knew the truth, Cable is sitting here nonchalantly chiding his pops for what he did to him. Wow. Great stuff.
Yikes, Cable must be pissed at his daddy. I stopped reading comics by the time Scott learned the truth of Cable, so I can't wait to find out how that all goes down.
The Kings of Pain are revealed to be Gideon and Today. Gideon has recently been introduced in the X-Force lead in as a powerful, immortal mutant who is a major financial player. But Toad, really? The last we saw him, he was a dumb sycophant following Magneto around (original run covered in 1: UXM # 1 - 93 (The Original, Slightly Crappy Run) ). I guess he's back, and smart now!? We'll see if this sticks. This seems so random to me though.
Freedom Force: The End of an Era
As mentioned in my forward, this side story is actually much better than the main Proteus storyline. What's left of Freedom Force (after Mystique is believed to be dead, Spiral disappears, and the real death of Stonewall and Destiny), the remaining members are sent to the Middle East to evacuate a German scientist.
Right of the bat, things start going wrong as Super Sabre is sniped and killed (permanently) immediately.
A shadowy creature guts Avalanche.
Crimson Commando has his hand cut off and inflicts other major wounds as well. I wonder if we'll see him later as a cyborg or something. Isn't that usually what happens in comics?
The remaining members are confronted with their attackers, a middle eastern group of mutants.
They fight back.
Crimson Commando is really messed up.
Avalance (who seems to be alright) is able to get Crimson Commando to a rescue helicopter.
The military abandons Pyro and Blob in the warzone.
When this ends, they are captured. This effectively ends Freedom Force and yet another way to clear the table for the re-boot.
Mystique says goodbye
There is another side story focused on Mystique. She left her an envelope to be opened shortly before spreading her ashes on a cruise.
The envelope has a ring (more evidence these two were married) and a picture from their time together.
In this flashback, Raven remembers that Destiny felt that she needed to relax. Loosen up. Learn to laugh.
The appropriate time comes to spead the ashes.
The ashes blow back and hit her in the face.
What a great scene. Before Destiny died, she instructed Mystique to spread her ashes at the exact moment when they would blow back in her face. Before that, she reminder her of the importance of laughing more. This ends with Mystique walking away laughing hysterically. I'm really interested to see if future incarnations of this character will be transformed by this experience. Can't wait to see!
Following the semi successful format used last year with (Captain) Ahab and Days of Future Past, we get a 4 part crossover event told through the Annuals of New Mutants, X-Men, X-Factor, and the New Warriors. I really don't understand why they aren't using Excalibur!? It's like they are going out of their way to exclude them, which in my opinion is a mistake. Excalibur is really struggling right now and it wouldn't hurt to get some excitement going by seeing them intermix with some of the other X Teams.
I didn't really mind seeing the New Warriors thrown in here because it gave me the excuse I was looking for to check out their comics, which I had never read before. I read the first 5 issues to help me get an idea of who they are and I added this to the list of potential comics I blog about after X-Men. Shouldn't be long now, just 31 more years of reading to go with an unlimited branching of X books...
The standout stories contained in these annuals is actually unrelated to the Kings of Pain storyline. We get a few interconnected stories showing us the last days of Freedom Force. There is LOTS of housekeeping going on, so Freedom Force needs to be taken off the board so that X-Factor can be re-born as the new government superhero group.
We also get a few fun panels with Cable chiding his pops without Cyclops (or the audience at this time) being any the wiser. Love it! Ok, let's get into it!
Future regular X-Men writer Fabian Nicieza writes the script for all four stories with a hodgepodge collection of artists (Art Thibert, Kirk Jarvinin, Mark Bagley, and Tom Raney. It's an average story. Not great, certainly better than some of the abominations we got for Annuals in the early years. The art is average. Probably par for the course, but since I'm so used to looking at Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, and Rob Leifeld lately it's just hard to stomach this.
My Rating - 5/10
Next up we'll be diving into The Muir Island Saga, the last big story before all of the X-lines are re-booted.
Next Post - 79: UXM 278-280 (The Muir Island Saga)
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