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New Mutants #21 (1984, November)

October 27, 2014

Another exciting issue of New Mutants. By Claremont and Sienkewicz, it’s “Slumber Party!”

Slumber Party!

The corner box should give you a hint about the contents of this issue.

We start with a large group of shadowy figures approaching the school. They knock on the door, and are invited inside and upstairs, where the party’s already in full swing. They’re celebrating Dani’s release from the hospital, though she’s still confined to a wheelchair for a while. She wants to dance, and Illyana distracts her by asking about her folks, and their ranch.

Three of the girls are chatting about the school being weird. One, in particular, thinks there’s probably bodies buried in the basement. None of them notice Lockheed spying on them from the rafters. Up in space, Magneto’s on Asteroid M, and something smashes right through. It’s Warlock!

Back at the party, the girls are talking about cute boys. Tom Selleck, of course. Also Michael Jackson. Amara gets a little embarrassed at not knowing who he is, and in her frustration, starts an earthquake going. She calms herself down, and when some girls find out her earrings are real gold, they flock to her. Rahne sits off to the side, feeling torn between her desire to have fun and her strict upbringing. So the girls decide to give her a makeover.

Outside, Sam and Bobby are walking home after a baseball game that apparently lasted into 27 innings. That would be painful to watch. Sam is apparently a Yankees fan, which would make him a horrible person today, but apparently they weren’t doing too great back then. So he’s still OK. Bobby playfully bats a giant rock with a tree, and Sam smashes it. Bobby starts thinking about his dad, and the great relationship they used to have. Sam tries to cheer him up, and then they get back to the school. Sam knocks on the door, and a sexy redhead opens the door. Sam asks if any of the girls are around, and Rahne tells him off. And punches him in the gut. Illyana slams the door on the boys. Sam has no idea what he did wrong, because he’s kind of an idiot. Rahne complains to Dani that Sam didn’t even recognize her, and Dani says he just saw a pretty girl, which makes Rahne feel bad for punching him. Illyana’s leading a Ouija board game, while wearing Lockheed as a hat.

Back outside, Sam’s swimming while Bobby sits on the shore. They both feel homesick. But then a meteor grabs their attention. But since it lands, it’s actually a meteorite. Of course, it’s not actually either, given how sharp a turn it made before crashing. Sam blasts into the lake after it and brings it out. Bobby carries it to the lab, then asks Sam how he knows so much about meteors, and Sam mentions his love of sci-fi, especially Heinlein. Warlock wakes up, tired and hungry. He needs some energy, and he plugs himself into a power outlet. He ends up blacking out the house.

In the attic, Rahne feels bad about the Ouija board game. She knows it’s all in fun, but she’s actually seen demons. Dani uses her own power to summon an illusory spirit. Lockheed suddenly takes off, too. Downstairs, Warlock finds a plant, and absorbs its life energy. He pokes around a fridge, and Lockheed attacks him. Illyana runs up behind Warlock and slashes him with her Soulsword, but doesn’t harm him, since he’s not magical. So instead, she summons a demon. Which Warlock promptly drains. So she teleports away with Lockheed.

Rahne finds Sam and Bobby, and conveys Sam’s story to Dani, who’s pissed at them. Sam feels like an idiot, and a failure. Amara joins the three, and they find Warlock. Amara blasts him with fire, to no effect. Sam blasts him out through a wall and onto the lawn. Warlock doesn’t want to hurt them, but he’s too weak to flee. Amara sinks him into the ground, and he grabs her, but Bobby snaps his arm. Inside, the music’s too loud for any of the girls to hear the battle, but Dani notices two of the girls missing. She climbs out of her chair to search for them. She slumps against a wall, and Warlock finds her. She scares him off with an illusion of the Magus.

Dani and Rahne talk about Warlock, and realize he’s scared, and probably doesn’t even recognize them as people. The missing girls show up, and think it’s cool that Dani has a pet wolf. They mention Elfquest – not the first time Claremont had mentioned it. He was clearly a big fan. The Pinis were a fan of Claremont, too. Anyway, Dani thinks they need to find a way to communicate with Warlock, and Sam thinks of Doug. Warlock accidentally activates the Danger Room, but is weak and kinda sad-looking. Doug’s brought in, and uses the Danger Room’s computer to communicate with Warlock. We learn about Warlock’s race – Technoorganic, babies created on an assembly line and then forced to fight their “fathers” to the death, Warlock fled, Magus followed. Rahne cries that they need to help him, to save his life. She reaches out to him, and he doesn’t drain her. Instead, he’s able to reach an outlet, and get enough energy to survive. And now, he has friends.

Xavier comes home to find the party over and the girls asleep. And the house a mess. Illyana shows up wearing a spacesuit, for some reason, and Xavier wants to know what the hell happened. The Mutants introduce him to Warlock. They want Warlock to stay. Xavier decides he trusts them.

Then some bios from Xavier’s files. Cannonball is the oldest and the one the others turn to for support, but his struggles with improving his power is hurting him. Magik is tough to teach because Xavier knows little about magic and her teleport circles are so unpredictable. Sunspot is charming, but also deeply troubled, and at risk of going down the same path as his father.

In the letters page, a fan mentions the book taking place at a school, and the response is that it’s possible one could flunk out, and what would happen then? Of course, that never ends up happening. At all. Another letter suggested getting rid of the kids, putting the ANAD team in New Mutants, and putting the original X-Men in UXM. The person also complains that Dani is too similar to Thunderbird.

This is a great issue. It’s got a lot of fun stuff going on, some great humour. But it also has some solid character work. Rahne gets some strong moments. Sam and Bobby have nice scenes together. It’s really good. Warlock is also really neat. He’s an interesting character, and his introduction is done well. We get to see him from both sides. Looking at him from the Mutants’ side, he’s really creepy. But we also get his side, so we know he’s not a bad guy, that he doesn’t want to hurt them, that he’s scared and weak. It’s easy to feel sad for him, especially when he collapses in the Danger Room, to weak to even try to rescue himself. We also get Doug added to the book, though he’s not really well-written here. He gets better.

Sienkewicz’s art remains fantastic. Spectacular stuff. The guy’s a master of mood all through the issue. It goes from light and fun to dark and creepy. Warlock keeps shifting and changing in interesting ways – I imagine he’s an artist’s dream, because they can really go free-form with him, more than with most characters.

The Claremont/Sienkewicz collaboration continues to shine, and continues to make New Mutants a must-read title. Sienkewicz brings an energy that it had been missing.

Song of the day: Blew My Mind by Dresses.

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