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New Mutants #14 (1984, April)

August 29, 2014

I was too tired to post yesterday, for reasons I’ll talk about on Tuesday. For today, I’ll just say that I’m now a Wal-Mart associate. Bleh. Anyway, by Claremont and Buscema, “Do You Believe In – Magik?”

Do You Believe In - Magik?

Oh, hey, Rahne’s not already on the ground, unconscious. Improvement!

We start where Magik #4 left off. Illyana is reflecting on her life, moping. It starts snowing, and she sees the New Mutants let out of class early to frolic. She thinks Xavier has a heart, but keeps it hidden. She thinks about the various members of the team – Rahne as the youngest, ‘Berto as cute, Sam as the oldest, Amara as a newcomer, and Illyana relates to the culture shock Amara’s going through. Amara’s feeling homesick, so Dani uses her power to pull out something to make her feel better – a palm tree. Something happened between Amara and ‘Berto beneath a palm tree. Illyana wants to play with them, but doesn’t know how to ask. Xavier thinks about how Illyana’s mind is closed to him, and wonders how bad her experiences in Limbo were.

The Mutants think Xavier looks grim, and Amara mentions overhearing his conversation with Lilandra. Oddly, despite the New Mutants knowing Lilandra for months, they seem surprised to learn she’s Xavier’s girlfriend. Huh? I’m pretty damned sure they already knew. So their reaction to that was bizarre, and made not a lick of sense. Either way, the kids want to do something to cheer him up, and decide on a surprise party. They ask Illyana if she wants to help, and she agrees. None of them notice S’ym spying on her.

At dance class, Stevie’s filled in on the plan, and agrees to help. Doug pops in briefly to ask if Stevie’s seen Kitty; he has something to talk to her about. They go to the mall, still being rebuilt, and Dani briefly wonders why they haven’t seen any more Sentinels. Don’t worry, Dani, it’s only because that entire storyline’s been totally abandoned. Anyway, it turns out it’s also Illyana’s birthday, but she didn’t mention it. Sam’s carrying a lot of heavy stuff, and bumps into Rahne, who yells at him for trying to show off. They bump into the kids from town.

Xavier’s doing research on Belasco, but has little information. He thinks about calling up Dr. Strange, or maybe Margali Szardos. Then S’ym walks in and knocks him out. The New Mutants get back, and wonder where he is, since he didn’t answer when they called the phone. Illyana offers to check if he’s there. Amara mentions that she reminds her of Selene. Illyana overhears, and wants to be angry, but knows it’s true. She sometimes considers leaving the school, and thinks about Kitty being the only one who accepts her as a friend, without question. Illyana’s appreciation for that goes maybe a bit farther than one would expect, but oh well.

Then S’ym grabs her. Outside, the New Mutants are teleported to Limbo (as seen in Magik #3) and then into the house. The Mutants attack, but S’ym kicks their asses pretty easily. Dani summons up a spirit-form of Belasco, who then turns into the Darkchild (Evil Illyana). Stevie grabs Illyana and runs, Amara creates a volcano to cover S’ym in lava. That doesn’t work well. While Stevie runs, her bad leg kicks in, because did you know she has a bad leg? She has a bad leg. S’ym is ready to kill Stevie, but Illyana wakes up and fights back. She summons her Soulsword, and S’ym begs for mercy, and promises to serve her. Illyana wipes Stevie’s memory of the fight.

The X-Men return home later to find a volcano and a car in the living room. Xavier congratulates her on beating S’ym, and then asks her to dance with him. He’s able to walk again! No explanation of how he got over whatever problem was keeping him from walking. Oh well. Doug knocks on the window to get Kitty’s attention, and tells her he got a scholarship to a school, and wants her to fly up with him. The school is, of course, the Massachusetts Academy.

This is a good issue. It’s an Illyana-focused issue; she doesn’t officially join the team here, but that comes soon. This is the first issue of New Mutants that she shows up in, and she remains a part of the cast all the way up to Inferno in 1988-89. She actually winds up being a really good addition. Here, she’s a bit dark, a bit broody. She loosens up pretty soon, though.

There’s some nice characterization for most of the others, too. Rahne has a clear resentment for Sam, which is a cool touch, since her resentment is based on her having a crush for him, and him treating her pretty poorly. The bit with them bumping into local kids feels a bit too short, like it needed a few extra panels, but it does have a bit of a purpose a few issues from now. Even so, it probably could’ve been either cut out of the issue, or expanded a little more. Another thing I did like, though, was how the Mutants behaved in the fight. Sam rushed in first, and ‘Berto followed right behind him, both thinking their power was the team’s best chance. Rahne jumped in right after,

The art’s good, but as usual for an Illyana story, it should’ve been a bit darker, and a bit more atmospheric, especially when S’ym showed up. As far as the art was concerned, it was just superheroes vs. a bad guy, but it should’ve been kids vs. a demon. So the art could’ve done a lot more to improve the story. Luckily, the next arc is straight superheroic stuff, so Buscema’s art will work fine there, and then a different artist will take over to make New Mutants into a must-read series. It’s not there yet, but it’s still good.

Song of the day: In the Sun by She & Him.

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