icon_uk: (Katie Cook Doug)
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Another of my "Accentuate the Positive" posts, where I cease whining about current comics, and dig out old ones I enjoyed... I'm not sure, does that make me offically an old fogey?

After the events of New Mutants #60, I didn't buy the comic regularly again, I hadn't much liked Louise Simonson's run, and that was the final straw. I didn't feel like I missed much.

Then a couple of years later, I saw New Mutants #81 on the shelves, a done-in-one story by Chris Claremont and guest penciller Louise Williams. I wonder if it was an inventory story, as it's also mostly a flashback and features neither the regular artist nor writer.

Comic books rarely deal with religion, and perhaps that's just as well, since it's incredibly easy to offend someone be they theist, polytheist or atheist. But it can be done...



At this point in the New Mutants history, Magma had left the team to join the Hellions, feeling (for no readily apparent reason) that they were more her kind of people. She and Empath had started a sort of relationship (Following on from Empath undergoing a sort of emotional catharsis and his malevolent side being revealed to be a shell created by a lonely little boy... a plot that never worked for me, it's a fine plot arc in and of itself, but Empath just seemed to be a much more interesting, dynamic character when he was, basically, a vile little shit.)

In any event, both of them are now in Brazil. Manuel/Empath is also a practising Catholic and has been attending Sunday Mass. Amara has not joined him, she has never been comfortable with a religion that, based on it's history in South America even if nothing else, is intolerant of other faiths.



Manuel is slightly baffled by this, and returns the challenge, to which Amara smiles that she knows her gods are real, she's met hers.

We flashback to a happier time, when the New Mutants numbered nine (including that cute blond linguist) and are enjoying a night at the cinema... well, enjoying for all the wrong reasons...

The movie? A Greek-historical-fantasy "epic" about HERCULES!!

I've trimmed the scenes of the movie, because it is just as bad as you might imagine... and you can imagine a bad movie better than I can show you one. (It's even better though because it clearly IS Hercules... yeah, THAT guy.... but the kids have no reason to believe that that's the case since they've never met him. He's just a lousy actor to them)



Doug getting all hand-holdy with Xian I think has to be seen in context of him making his declamation in a suitably over-dramatic serious tone.



Claremont has his flaws as a writer, but I always liked his crowd scenes like this, with group banter..

Amara, though, is feeling guilty.



That night, back at the mansion, she wonders if, in joining the team to learn more about the outside world, she's lost something more important, her own faith and heritage, and so....



Suddenly, a gust of wind blows out the brazier as the window slams open.....



(Actually we saw her chat with Doug in Latin a time or two, but it's clearly not the same)

Amara is NOT pleased by this, she assumes it's a stunt that the other New Mutants cooked up to embarass her, getting the actor from the awful movie to come and pretend to be the real Hercules in front of her (Given they have unlimited funds through Roberto and a teleporter on the team, it's not THAT impossible I suppose). The team deny all responsibility.

Hercules is surprised by this, he'd expected a LITTLE more respect from Amara at least, but as he demonstrates his abilities, the team do point out that they're not that uncommon. Yes, he's strong, but so is Sunspot. Yes, he can throw a mace to shatter a boulder, but so can Cannonball. Yes, he can leap to great heights, but Warlock can fly.... and so on... It seems much more likely that he's a mutant like they are, using a name borrowed from a demigod of legend (Which Amara finds rather shameful of him)

Hercules then decides to REALLY prove his point



We get a quick scene in Olympus, where we discover that Zeus is NOT happy with Hercules at the moment. The movie made a mockery out of the entire pantheon. Zeus feels it's time Hercules learned that gods NEED the faith of mortals, and mockery destroys faith. Amara doubts her faith because of Hercules' foolishness in making the movie and simply EXPECTING faith when he showed up. Until Hercules realises this and does something about it, in invocation terms, he's grounded.

Hercules doesn't know this, he simply feels slightly lost at not getting any result from calling on HIS deity. Amara recognises the emotions, after all she's feeling them herself. But Hercules is determined to prove himself to her, and invites her to join him until he can do so.

So they catch the last train to New York, with Hercules promising her accommodation at Avengers Mansion.

She asks him why, if he's a superhero, he didn't use a superhero name?



Oooh! Burn! :)

Hercules tries to show his worth by stopping a getaway car outside club (With Amara helping)



And partying...



She leaves him at this point, feeling REALLY disappointed, he's done nothing to prove himself worthy of special respect, and certainly not worship.

As she walks down the street, a convenient comic book style disaster occurs. The gas main in a nearby building blows up... Since fire means nothing to her, she immediately goes to help... Hercules, being a hero and all, joins her and they manage to save several lives. Finally all seems safe, but...



Hercules rescues all three of them, and then douses the fire with the contents of a rooftop watertank

Alas, not everyone made it out unharmed, the kid who was holding the baby yelled so loudly to get attention for Amara that he breathed in flame, and destroyed his bronchial membrances. He's suffocating and there's nothing that can be done to save him.

The doctor tells Herc and Amara that his parents were on vacation and are heading home, but they won't get there in time, he only has a couple of hours left at most.



I've always loved the next line

"The stories last till dawn, likewise Jaime Suarez's life"

Hercules is heartbroken, he's three thousand years old, and immortal, but has never learned to accept the loss of someone he cared about. Jaime was as brave as any warrior he'd ever met, saving the lives of others at the cost of his own. Compared to that...





We return to the present where Amara reiterates he question to Manuel. She KNOWS her gods exist, she's MET them. How can he be so sure that HIS beliefs are true.



It's perhaps a little surprising that a good Catholic boy like Manuel didn't just quote the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, Verse 29, it's one of the more famous quotes in Jesus words to Thomas after the Resurrection; ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

As a Catholic myself (Though as you might imagine I have issues with certain parts of the dogma), I really like this story, it manages to be respectful to both Manuel's faith and Amara's.

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