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New Mutants #3 (1983, May)

June 16, 2014

Today, we finish the first arc of New Mutants, with “Nightmare,” still by Claremont and McLeod.

Nightmare

Wait, there’s blood on the knife, but the New Mutants all clearly haven’t been cut. Did Dani stab some guy laying off-camera? Is she kneeling in a panel of that guy’s blood? Not cool, Dani, not cool.

We open with Dani being wakened up by a bad storm. She sees a Brood face at her window, and draws her knife from its scabbard around her headboard. She wonders if she’s imagining it, and her power is drawing on her own fears. Then something smashes through her window and attacks her, and she distracts it by stabbing it with her knife, then calls for help. She finds Roberto gunned down by his dead girlfriend, Juliana; Xi’an in rags, presumably having been raped to death; Cannonball crushed by a cave-in; and Rahne being burned at the torch. The monster catches her, and she pulls its mask off to reveal the Demon Bear.

Then she wakes up in bed, and thinks she’s losing her mind. Xavier tells her she’s fine, and just had a bad dream, but she’s not convinced. She pulls her knife out of its scabbard, and finds blood on it. She runs downstairs to tell Xavier, but she overhears him on the phone, talking to Moira about Dani being crazy. She’s hurt by what she hears, and wonders if maybe she should just kill herself. In Scotland, Moira tells Xavier he’s being ridiculous. She snaps at him, but Banshee guesses her short temper is because of the boy. He then goes for a walk, and finds Illyana singing a song for Cat. I just realized the story of her time in Limbo hasn’t actually been shown yet. That mini starts at the end of 1983.

The next day, Dani does some laps in the pool. Xi’an meets her at the pool, and Dani talks about her fears. Sam has a session in the Danger Room, then goes to the bathroom to shave, and blacks out to find a message on the mirror. Once all the New Mutants are gathered in the boathouse, Dani tells them again that something’s trying to kill her, but they don’t believe her. Cannonball, in particular, refuses to accept it, until he tries to leave the boathouse. The lawn’s been replaced with some sort of alien planet. So they go into the tunnels beneath the house, and Dani gets grabbed by the Brood. But the Mutants fight it off, and it vanishes. They continue to explore the tunnels, which have been replaced with caverns. Then they get attacked again.

Dani wakes up, wrapped in webbing, with the Brood standing over her, saying it’s going to transform her and her friends into Brood. Then she realizes that she’s being forced to use her illusion powers. Except that it’s all been real, which is something she can’t do, but the Brood says she’ll eventually be able to. The other Mutants bust in, and the Brood escapes again. Dani tries to get Karma to possess her, but that backfires as the Brood takes over Karma instead. So instead, she gets Cannonball to knock her out. Later, Dani sulks on the porch, and Bobby goes to tell her everything will be fine. And this leads into Uncanny X-Men #167, which actually came out the same months as New Mutants #1, but which I haven’t reviewed yet on account of wanting to cover these New Mutants issues first.

It’s a good finale to the first arc. It’s very tense, and gives a real sense of danger. Dani, once again, is the main focus of the issue. Rahne gets the short end of the stick in this issue – she doesn’t get much to say or do. The others are only a little better. But their personalities still come through well. The issue does get, perhaps, a bit angsty at times. But it worked well.

This is McLeod’s last issue on the series, and he’s not really going to be missed. His work is fine. It’s good work. But his replacement is Sal Buscema. That’s a hell of a step up. And beyond that, like I’ve said the past couple issues, McLeod’s art doesn’t really stand out much. It is very good in this issue, though. The action is well-choreographed and exciting. The Demon Bear isn’t all that menacing, though I think I am just comparing it to Sienkewicz’s version, which was . . . well, we’ll get to that (assuming I keep this up long enough).

A lot of comics need some time to find their feet. New Mutants started off firmly on its feet, though it does continue to get better.

And today’s awesome song, Lips Are Unhappy by Lucky Soul.

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