icon_uk: (Doug)
icon_uk ([personal profile] icon_uk) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2010-11-09 10:53 pm

New Mutants Forever 1-3 (And a preview of 4)

There's not been a lot of attention for the New Mutants here lately, either the current run, or the "New Mutants Forever", and it's maybe time to do something about that.

Now, for those not familiar with the concept of  "a curates egg" it dates back to an old Punch cartoon in 1895, where a parson is seen having breakfast whilst visiting his bishop, and the bishop notes, "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones.", to which the very nervous curate replies, desperate not to seem ungrateful or rude, "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"

Now a bad egg is, of course, bad all through, so the original meaning was something which may appear to have good and bad bits, but overall is spoiled, and nowadays generally means something which is a mixed bag of good and bad...

And why do I mention this when starting a review of the first three issues of New Mutants Forever.. Go on... guess!

First one of the good parts... an Art Adams Warlock cover from issue 2!

A LOT of images under the cut (Around 7 pages from issues 1, 2 and 3, and 2 pages of a preview of 4)

The ".. Forever" titles allow Chris Claremont to go back and revisit the characters he left behind. In the case of the New Mutants, he left in 1987, with issue 54, to be replaced by Louise Simonson, whose New Mutants work was... less than stellar IMHO, not least for killing off my favourite character within 5 issues of starting.

When Claremont left, Magneto was still Headmaster of "Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" but was starting to propose an alliance between the X-Men (and by implication the New Mutants) and the Hellfire Club. Back then the Inner Circle still consisted of the self-made millionaire and energy absorbing Sebastian Shaw as Black King, scheming telepath Emma Frost as the White Queen, and the self-serving and usually-up-to-something-but-we-don't-know-what sorceress and life force vampire Selene as the Black Queen. Magneto seemed to be on the fast path to becoming the new White King, possibly sharing the role (somehow) with Storm.

So our story begins in this alternate timeline, with a meeting between Magento and the Inner Circle in the New York based HQ of the hellfire Club.

Now a few things straight off... note the New Mutants are wearing different costumes (I'll get back to that later),

Also note how they draw Sunspot... It's as if someone told the artist that "The New Mutants have a black kid in there, don't forget to draw him in", without realising that Sunspot is not a black kid per se, but a mixed race kid, the hair is all wrong for starters and it looks nothing like him.

Now I'm also not sure about the crossing out of Warlock, Sunspot and Karma... now it is clearly supposed to mean that they're not currently with the team, but it looks a little weird.

Third thing to note is the infodump pointing out that Amara is Selene's granddaughter. At this point in the New Mutants history that had been mentioned as a possibility a couple of times, but only by Selene herself (And IIRC the implication was that she was a more distant ancestor than grandmother) so it was entirely possible it was a scam, yet here it's presented as fact. Oh well...

Meanwhile, in another room, the New Mutants are discussing what's going on...

Cue the sound of gunfire (Which Rahne hears thanks to enhanced senses and immediately dashes out to investigate in wolf form) and Magik summons up a stepping disk to travel to the source with the others... Note that Doug immediately comments on NEW outfits Magik has zapped them into, so where the pictures of them already wearing them came from is anyone's guess.... though they look a little more sturdy than the originals, which a future Doug in the main timeline would probably have appreciated.

Also not sure why Dani has a bow here, it's not usually what she fights with and she hadn't had her powers messed with at this point, she's still an illusion caster whose psychic images triggered terror or euphoria.

Also not sure what Magma appears to be flying there, that's never been something she could do.

Nice to see Doug being useful in the fight though!

Not sure that those are mutually conclusive notions Sam..

Anyway, the kids drive the attackers back and discover the unconscious and wounded person they were trying to kill, who turns out to be Amara's pater, the First Senator of Nova Roma (The lost Roman colony in South America that Amara (and Selene) hails from). Cue the entry of the Inner Circle and a squadron of Hellfire Club guards, just in time to look impressive and do sweet FA.

They return to the Club, where the kids go off by themselves again. Amara is determined to find out why her father travelled to New York incognito.

Amara also acknowledges a familial link to Selene, though she hates that it's the case.

Things are not quiet outside though as the Hellfire Club comes under paratrooper assault directly.

Again a couple of little things here, Shaw's power is to absorb energy (mostly kinetic) and turn it into strength, the more you hit him the stronger he becomes. And yet Magneto, who hasn't got superstrength, is able to shatter their visors with a single punch. They shouldn't be much of a threat to Shaw, but never mind.

Upstairs the kids are attacked too, with Rahne serisouly injured. Up MORE upstairs Amara and Doug are both attacked too, and taken down with a sort of fire extinguisher (douses Amara's power, and knocks both her and Doug out due to lack of oxygen... I guess) and carried away by the bad guys (They're only supposed to target Amara, but a cute blond is a cute blond I guess)

The attackers are defeated, but Shaw is more or less ut of action through concussion, and and when Emma tries to mindscan their prisoners for info, they all keel over and die instantly, and she's caught in the backlash. The only survivor is one that Magik had sent to Limbo during the fight.

Dani resolves to stay with the badly wounded Rahne (having seen Hela hanging around with her Valkyrie Death-perception and knowing that's a bad sign) and Sam and Illyana take Selene to Limbo to question their prisoner.

It's an effective, if terminal, way of getting information. Selene now knows that their target is in Nova Roma, and that's where any prisoners would be taken...

Can you guess who the villain is? Actually, given the number of Nazi's who fled to South America after WWII, it actually makes some sense that the villain is... die roten Schädel! (If you don't know who that is, either use Cypher's powers to work it out, or keep reading)

Issue 2 starts with a quick flash through the Rio carnival scene (It's a comic with a scene set in Rio, of COURSE it's Carnival time), with Nina DaCosta, a middled aged woman, running for her life through the streets.

Meanwhile, we catch up on where her son, Roberto "Sunspot" DaCosta, and Warlock have been whilst all this has been going on.

Nice human form you picked for yourself...

Roberto gets a phone call from his mother (who managed to snag a mobile from a passerby... though again, this is 1987, so where she got a mobile like that from is anyone's guess). She's cut off, but Warlock traces the signal with his inbuilt techno-senses, and Roberto insists that they link in order to get to her faster, and in time.

I THINK Warlock is saying that he doesn't want to two-time Doug here, but I may be applying my own subtext...

Though the first panel of the next page does sort of support my theory...

I liked it when the New Mutants had limited powers, like Sunspot having strength but no flight and no solar energy blasts, so this is a nice compromise...

They find Mrs DaCosta and her attackers.

Now this is interesting, this is (I think) the first time Warlock has ever killed a sentient being in anger... I'm not sure why he lost his cool like that, as it's not like him, but that might be a plot point to be revisited.

Yup, that's our "big bad" for this story arc, the Red Skull himself... as noted, it makes sense he'd have a South American presence and that he'd have the resources to find out about Nova Roma.

The Skull comes along to tormet his captives a little, and accompanying him is a female version of himself.. a Red Skullette, which is not a pretty thought...

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Icon_UK! How can this be? We're more than halfway through the second issue of a Chris Claremont story and haven't seen any mind control, body horror or "He unlocked my dark side and I revelled in the freedom" tropes... Well, fret not gentle reader... Alas, we have our guinea pig when Doug shows defiance (bless his brave little heart)

ICK! Whilst Doug smoulders away, Skull proceeds to start inflicting some sort of electric shock to Amara and Tiberius... THIS is going to end well....

Anyway, Warlock and Bobby manage to rescue Mrs DaCosta and she explains she'd fled Nova Roma after it was invaded along with Senator Aquilla, whilst he went north to find the X-Men, she went to Brazil, in the hope of using the DaCosta family influence to get help, but the Skull has agents everywhere. She gives Roberto a ring which allows the wearer to teleport straight into Nova Roma (Why the Nova Romae have tech like that is a little irksome, since they've always been seen to be deliberately low tech, at Selene's insistence. Oh well...

Anyway, Bobby and Warlock arrive, and more or less run into Selene, Sam and Illyana. They swap stories quickly, and as Issue 3 starts, the find themselves face to face with...

Body horror? Check. Mind control? Check... More sleazily revealing costume? Check... okay, NOW we know we're in a Claremont story....

The two sides clash. With the Doug-Skull (Who none of the NM's show any sign of recognising as Doug, which is hardly surprising) showing himself to be a dangerous hand to hand fighter, Tiberius not doing badly either (though having no apparent powers) and Amara blasting away with her Magma powers.

Doug manages to slash Selene with his claws several times, doign some serious damage. And Amara is, as the textbox pointed out, awesomely powerful when motivated. Warlock tries his best...


Magma then seals Warlock in molten rock and solidifies it around him, crushing him completely.

Selene is dazed at being wounded and so can't get out of the way when the Red Skullette sneaks up and sticks her with a syringe of the transforming drug. She tries to cure herself of it by sucking the lifeforce out of the Skullette, but it's not enough, and she, with Magik and Cannonball have to flee, leaving Sunspot a prisoner and Warlock MIA presumed melted... Amara gloats a little though as she watches Selene leave...

Yeah Amara, some people might find lobster red skin and no discernible nose sexy... this IS a Claremont story after all.

In Limbo Selene is trying to fight off the transformation, aside from what Skull has done to Amara, he has invaded HER home, and whilst he's the embodiment of evil, she's got a LOT of millennia of downright malevolently nasty to call on. People worshipped Ororo as a goddess out of respect and love, but Nova roma revered Selene as a goddess out of respect and FEAR.

Back in Nova Roma it's "bread and circuses" time at the Nova Roma coliseum, and there's a new star performing topless for the crowds, and the head honcho...

The text is clear that Skull Jr. has no sense of self, no memory of who he was as Doug Ramsey, or his true nature, all he knows is obedience to the Skull, and the violence he wants to see.

Skull is pleasantly surprised as his protege's skill levels, he thinks he's earning the right to wear the face of his benefactor.

Amara and Tiberius are waiting on the Skull's needs in the royal box... but clearly not as willingly as he'd hoped...

I will spare you the resulting kiss out of respect for your gag reflex... Suffice it to say that "No tounges" isn't half as offputting as "no lips"

But there is another observer of the scene...

Meanwhile Selene, Sam (who, it has to be said, is being about as useful as a fifth wheel in this story so far but at least wasn't sidelined like Dani and Rahne) and Illyana return to the backstreets of Nova Roma and they enter a tavern where Selene is welcomed... And now we see something that the original stories referenced by didn't really do much with, Selene was genuinely revered as a goddess by the people of Nova Roma, and here we meet an adherent...

I really like that moment, Selene may be an immoral, murdering and downright unpleasant individula, but she is obsessed with maintaining HER city, and she is prepared to recognise and honour someone else being as committed to that as she is, at the cost of their lives. (Selene and Lord Vetinari would possibly see eye to eye on a number of things, as might Doctor Doom... now there's an idea for a crossover)

Meanwhile, someone else is back on the scene, Amara may have thought she'd destroyed Warlock, but...

Warlock's looking a lot more like his Dad here..

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Skull's palace, Skull Jr. is about to undergo an unfortunate realisation... he's going to remember who he is.

And there we have the final component that makes this a Claremont piece the "I turned evil and part of me LOVED it" trope...

Remember Warlock, the happy go lucky, slightly zany, cartoony guy who loved his little buddy Doug? Yeah, he's not in right now...

And these pages are from the preview of Issue 4 up at Newsarama... out this week

I really don't know what to make of this story so far... It's an uneasy mix of flashback and update (tiny cellphones, the internet, which didn't exist like this back in 1987), plot points that don't quite tally (Selene and Amara's relationship). The art is nice without being fantastic, and there are far too many of Claremonts cliche plot points... Maybe it will be resolved nicely, or maybe not, I can think of one way Doug can be restored to human form, but they might be wanting to go down the road of disfigurement.

So, your thoughts and/or opinions?

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