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New Mutants #13 (1984, March)

August 18, 2014

My third Goodreads book, Aversion by Eric Monsky, came in the mail today. I’m not even halfway through The Big Wide Calm yet, so it’ll be another week before I get to this new book. But for right now, by Claremont and Buscema, “School Daysze.”

School Daysze

The Mutants seem like jerks here, but in fairness, Kitty has repeatedly called them “X-Babies,” because Kitty’s kind of a bitch.

Amara is introduced to Xavier, and he shows her to her room while explaining about mutants. Her room is large, and decorated in a Roman style – in fact, it’s her old room from Nova Roma, which Xavier recreated to make her feel more comfortable. He leaves her with her thoughts, and she feels a bit overwhelmed, which starts the earth trembling.

Later, the Mutants – along with Xavier and Stevie – are preparing a “welcome barbecue.” Dani’s doing the cooking, with Stevie helping out. It makes sense that Dani would probably be the best among them at barbecue. She’s had to take care of herself at times, so presumably learned how to cook, and I imagine barbecue was probably big in her family. Bobby’s rich, he wouldn’t have learned. Sam came from a fairly traditional family, so he wouldn’t have learned. Rahne likely wouldn’t know how to do barbecue, though she might know how to do oatmeal or something. Anyway, Amara comes out, dressed in a very nice dress. No one told her it would be a casual dinner. Amara feels foolish, but Bobby flirts, and that makes her feel better. Dani feels jealous. wishing he’d use his charms on her once in a while.

Sam rockets in with soda, but when he sees Amara, he starts pulling some tricks to impress her. Unfortunately, he crashes, and the soda all winds up on her. She’s really upset, saying the dress was one of the few things of her mother’s that she had left. Dani tries to calm her down, but nope, that doesn’t work, and then they have to stop lava from burning everything. Rahne and Dani follow Amara, and find her crying. They decide to leave her alone. Amara figures that if she can’t gain control of her powers, she’ll need to die.

We cut to the headquarters of Project: Wideawake, where Shaw is showing Gyrich and Cooper a new Sentinel. The Sentinel starts going wild, the result of a hacker getting into the system. They’re forced to self-destruct it. Elsewhere, Kitty and Doug Ramsey are apparently the ones who got in, though they’re not sure what they got into. They’d been trying to get into Shaw’s corporate or club systems, but found a government system, instead, which makes Kitty wonder if Shaw’s working with the government. Kitty and Doug are apparently a great team – she does the hardware, he does the software. As Kitty says, “Me Stradivarius, you Itzhak Perlman.” Then Kitty notices the time and leaves, right when Xavier tells her she’s late.

As Kitty’s on her way, she comes across Amara. She tries to help Amara, but gets told off. Then the Mutants tell her off, too. Then she gets in trouble with Xavier for missing a training session. He’s glad to see her making friends outside the school, but reminds her of her responsibilities to the X-Men. He also wants her to end her feud with the Mutants. After she leaves, he thinks about a whole bunch of things he needs to get around to, including medical exams for Bobby and Rahne, to make sure there are no after-effects from the drug they were injected with back in the Marvel Team-Up Annual (the one that featured Spider-Man and Cloak and Dagger). I wonder if this was meant as foreshadowing. He also misses Lilandra. And then the scanning wave hits him, though he weathers it well.

The next day, the Mutants are in their computer class. Amara learns quickly, and Bobby grew up with computers. Sam feels like the computer’s beating him, and Rahne feels stupid and ugly and unloved. Later, they go to dance class, where Amara once again does well. Rahne tries to show her up by transforming during a leap, which just gets her yelled at for being irresponsible. Kitty tells her she pulled a similar stunt, and got yelled at by Storm for it. Then she leaves with Doug.

Later again, Amara’s getting her first lesson in the Danger Room. Amara’s not sure of her control, but Xavier tells her he’ll be monitoring the situation telepathically. She gets angry, because he said he wouldn’t go inside her mind. She runs off. Later some more, she feels a bit bad. She’s having trouble liking him. She also feels a bit guilty about Rahne confessing things to her without knowing Amara spoke English. (Speaking of which: We never did learn where the people of Nova Roma learned English.) She wanders down, and finds Xavier speaking with Lilandra. She feels guilty again for spying on it, but Xavier isn’t upset. He talks to her, and she decides to stay.

This is a very, very good downtime issue. There’s a little bit of action, but not much, and it doesn’t really distract from the characterization. And of that, there’s plenty. Amara and, oddly enough, Kitty wind up being arguably the two main characters here. We continue to get a feel for Amara’s character. She’s a fish out of water. She’s uncertain about a lot, and going through a major culture shock. The moment where she wears a formal gown to a barbecue is a particularly strong one – more than anything else, it gets across the culture shock. Even the computer class doesn’t do it so effectively.

Speaking of computers, Doug! It’s Doug, guys! Doug! This is actually Doug’s very first appearance. He’s a computer genius. An expert hacker. This actually does mesh really well with Kitty, who’s also great with computers, but specializes more in hardware. I actually like Doug. It’s interesting that he and Kitty never actually became an item, as they do have a nice, easy chemistry here (one of the few characters not named Peter that Kitty has a good chemistry with). Unfortunately, the big problem was that the X-Men and New Mutants so seldom really interacted. Kitty shows up a few more times in this book, and there’s the occasional bit of crossover between the two books, but by and large, aside from an upcoming arc, Kitty just doesn’t show up much in New Mutants. So when Doug joined the book, he and Kitty seemed to hang out a lot less. Which is weird. But I’ve gotten way ahead of myself.

Sal Buscema’s art is good. He was a reliably adequate artist. He never really wowed me, but it was fine. He’ll only be around for four more issues. Then . . . oh, man, then.

Song of the day: Do It With A Rockstar by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. (This version is censored. It includes a link to an uncensored version, with “tasteful titties.” Your call which one you prefer. Either way, the song is awesome, and Amanda Palmer is married to Neil Gaiman. She’s so damned lucky.)

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