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New Mutants #19 (1984, September)

September 27, 2014

We continue the Demon Bear Saga, by Claremont and Sienkewicz, with “Siege.”

Siege

That thing is terrifying.

Dani’s being rushed into the ER at the local hospital. The kids watch her rolled in, and Officer Tom Corsi asks if they know what happened, and doesn’t believe Sam when he says it was a bear. He does say they’ll organize a search for the bear in the morning, if the storm has let up by then. A nurse tells them she’ll get them some pillows and blankets, and let them know if she hears any news about Dani.

Once the kids are alone, Sam guesses the Demon Bear is going to come to the hospital to finish her off. It’s neat seeing Sam reason it out. He asks Rahne to turn to wolf-form, so she can get a read on Dani’s condition. Dani starts to wake up, which worsens her condition, but she confirms that the Bear will try again. Sam says they have to hold the Bear off, to save Dani and the other patients.

Cut to the Starjammer, where Binary’s woken everyone to show some weird readings. A human-sized being with huge energy potential. Then an even bigger, more powerful being passes by. The beings are on a course that will take them to Earth.

Back at the hospital, Rahne, in her transitional form, is watching the work on Dani. She’s spotted by Corsi, and she runs around a corner and changes back to normal. Corsi takes her back to bed, thinking he’s so tired he’s started seeing things. Then he talks to the nurse, Sharon. He flirts with her, and she’s pretty receptive. Then they hear a growl, and scream in terror. The kids are woken by the screams, and a gunshot. They rush over, and Rahne smells the same scent as when they found Dani. The Bear is in the hospital.

Illyana creates a magical ward around the OR, to protect Dani. The Bear shows up, and swats aside Sunspot. It claws at Illyana, and she finds a bit of metal on her arm. She stabs the Bear with her Soulsword, and it goes away, and her arm returns to normal. The power gets cut, and the emergency generator comes on. Sam guesses the Bear cut the power lines. He sends the girls to protect the generator room, while he and Sunspot will guard Dani.

The Bear attacks the OR, and teleports, along with the boys, to the generator room. Magma shoots lava at it, and it attacks Illyana, and her back is covered by more of the armour. Then it teleports again. The OR is inside it, along with Tom and Sharon. Illyana realizes that since it was having trouble defeating them on their turf, it took them to his own.

This arc continues to be brilliant. This issue’s really dark, tense and emotional. Reading with the benefit of foresight, of course, we know Dani survives, and makes a full recovery. But even so, the writing and art are full of such tension that you can’t help but worry for her. The other kids are really distraught and worried, though they’re also determined to protect Dani from the Bear. The Bear itself remains terrifying, largely thanks to Sienkewicz’s art. I have a feeling that a fair chunk of this arc was rewritten by Claremont once he saw Sienkewicz’s take on the Demon Bear. As originally envisioned, it was really just a bear. But Sienkewicz makes it a mythic force. I suspect Claremont went in a very different direction from what he originally planned, just to match the Bear’s new look.

Meanwhile, this issue also gives us the first appearance of Illyana’s magical armour. And it also touches on Warlock and the Magus subplot.

In the letters page, someone asks how the Nova Romans know English, and the response is that they learned it from previous expeditions that had been captured and never freed. Which doesn’t explain at all how so many of them would speak it. I could see a handful of people learning English from earlier expeditions. But way too many people knew it. The actual explanation is, to be blunt, bad writing. Another letter accused the whole Nova Roma storyline of being somewhat racist – using the old cliche of any sign of intelligence from “savage” tribes actually being because of white people. It’s a fair complaint, really.

Song of the day: The Kelly Affair by Be Your Own Pet.

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