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New Mutants Annual #1 (1984, November)

October 28, 2014

Two New Mutants posts in a row! I work tomorrow, so no Wednesday reviews, but I’ll post my pull list instead. But for today, by Claremont and McLeod, “The Cosmic Cannonball Caper.”

The Cosmic Cannonball Caper

This might be one of my favourite covers ever. So damned good. A Sienkewicz cover, of course.

We start with a Danger Room exercise. Cannonball is trying to lift a ram as high as possible by launching against it. Xavier’s not impressed with how he’s doing, and Sam can tell, so he puts more effort into it. Then Xavier has Dani create a mental image of a Brood Queen to startle him. This causes Sam to stop blasting, and he falls. He gets mad, until Xavier explains to him the necessity of not losing concentration. Sam feels bad, but Xavier tells him every X-Man’s been in the same spot.

In new York City, an alien materializes, and sees a Lila Cheney poster.

Back at the school, Stevie’s putting Dani through a daily therapy session, stretching her legs. She gets a charlie horse, and Stevie massages it while saying it’s OK to cry when in pain. Dani asks how Stevie dealt with her broken knee, and Stevie says she screamed, cursed, cried and strained her friendships to their limits. Bobby busts in saying he got everyone tickets to the Lila Cheney concert.

So we skip ahead to Saturday, and the concert. The line’s long, but Bobby gets them inside quick. The tickets give access to the sound check. There are benefits to having a rich father. They watch the band setting up, then Lila takes to the stage for the soundcheck. Everyone’s impressed. One of the amps starts to fall, and Sam tackles Lila out of the way. Lila rewards him with a kiss. Right on the lips. She invites the group to a party after the show. After she gets back to the set-up, Warlock – disguised as a human – says the chain holding the amps was cut. Rahne changes to wolf form to check for scents, and finds something awful. An alien scent.

As the show starts, the Mutants – with Dani and Doug staying behind – are still exploring the place. They’re in the rafters above the stage. They find the alien from earlier. The Mutants attack him. He kicks their asses, easily. But before he can kill Lila, Sam knocks him aside, and Lila starts a guitar solo that seems to cause the alien, and Warlock, pain. The alien’s armour explodes. Then, Lila, her band, and Sam all vanish. Warlock explains what happened, but he’s got a dangerous amount of energy that he needs to discharge. He uses the energy, at Dani’s behest, to open the Stargate Lila used. They show up in space.

Meanwhile, Lila, Sam and the band are in a fancy room. It’s time for the After-Party. Sam wonders what Lila’s game is, and then notices he’s in a Dyson sphere. One that’s empty and abandoned. She flirts with him, and then sends him off for a change of clothes. Then she takes a call from an alien, the same race as the one who attacked her, who asks if  the auction can be skipped. She says her theft and sales of the Earth will proceed as scheduled.

Dani wakes up in a pod. Turns out she, and the other Mutants, are inside Warlock, who’s transformed into a ship to save them.

On the sphere, Sam’s led into Lila’s bedroom, dressed in punk clothes. Lila’s just wearing a bathing suit. They make out, while one of her bandmates calls the alien from before. He’s setting up a double-cross, selling out Lila and the Earth. The Mutants have arrived in the sphere. It apparently took them a day, and they’ve spent most of another day wandering around the city. The Mutants are attacked while crossing a bridge. Rahne and Dani fall off, and Warlock catches them, but they’re all caught by a net. Bobby’s jumped on a flying sled, but can’t control it. The three captured Mutants are thrown down beside Sam. Lila’s beside the head alien. The alien also kills the guy who betrayed Lila.

The alien explains the plan. Lila’s put a Stargate web around the planet Earth. Once a switch is thrown, the planet will be teleported to the Dyson sphere, the people in stasis shock, so they can be rounded up and sold as slaves. Before he can throw the switch, the room starts shaking. An earthquake is impossible on a Dyson sphere, which means – Magma! Illyana, too. She slices one of the aliens, which doesn’t hurt it, but does shock it long enough for Doug to tackle him. Illyana grabs his gun and shoots him, to Doug’s shock. He wonders if he belongs there, but he doesn’t run. The rest of the team is freed, and Sunspot busts in. Almost everyone comments on Sam’s outfit.

Lila says the Earth is doomed. When Amara melted the control panel, it triggered self-destruct circuits that will destroy the Earth. She has no idea how to stop it. Luckily, someone there reads alien-ese. He manages to figure it out just in time. Lila agrees to leave the Earth alone, and Doug asks how they’re going to get home. Lila teleports them to her London townhouse. She can do that on her own. The other Mutants head inside, while Sam talks to Lila. And then they kiss again. Bobby is shocked.

This is a really fun story. I kinda can’t help but wonder how much more epic it would’ve been with Sienkewicz on art, but McLeod does a really good job. Action is handled well, the characters look good. The aliens are a bit bland, but whatever, not a big deal. The writing is also good. Claremont does some good character work with Sam. Doug gets some nice stuff here, too, even getting to save the Earth. Dani, too, gets some nice moments all through, dealing with her injury, and acting as leader of the team. And, of course, Lila’s great. She’s fun. I’ve always liked Lila. Which is why I’m so psyched to see her in Captain Marvel next month. Woot Lila!

The Sam/Lila romance becomes a bit of a recurring element in New Mutants for a few years. They make an OK couple. Not a great one, but an OK couple. I’ve seen worse comic book couples. It does lead to a few cute moments here and there, at least.

But wait! There’s more! The New Mutants were also in Rom Annual #3, by Bill Mantlo and W.M. Johnson. There’s stuff that happens involving Rom and Starshine and Dire Wraiths and so on. Then the New Mutants are driving along an Appalachian highway when they come across a roadblock and a forest fire. Sam’s scared for his family. The team goes into action to help create a firebreak, and to rescue some firefighters caught inside the inferno. Amara blows out the fire with a bigger fire, and they all continue down the road, passing a church that wasn’t even singed by the fire. The Mutants arrive at Sam’s family’s place, where they’re all greeted warmly. Xavier wonders if any of Sam’s siblings will get powers. The answer? Oh hell yes. Sam’s mom mentions a new preacher in town, since the old one’s been ailing. The new preacher, as Rom and Starshine learn, is an old enemy named Hybrid, a mix of Wraith and human. Hybrid stops Rom, then decides to make Starshine his mate.

The next morning, Sam and Josh go hunting. Josh is a bit resentful towards Sam for getting out. Josh wants to get out, too, and wonders if he’s “different” like Sam. At the funeral for the old preacher, Xavier and Illyana both sense the evil of the new preacher. Back at the church, Hybrid gets Brandy out of the Starshine armour she’d been fused into. Then he drops the church into the ground. The Mutants, the next day, follow into the earth to find the church and deal with Hybrid. He causes a cave-in to trap them, and Sam freaks out a bit and starts blasting free, before his power cuts out. They find the church, and Hybrid exits, and they try to attack him, but lose. Illyana teleports away, but the others are all captured.

Illyana, in Limbo, finds and saves Rom, who mentions a past meeting with the X-Men. She then takes Rom back to Earth, and inside the church, which Hybrid’s changed. They get inside just in time to see Hybrid give Brandy a kiss. While Hybrid attacks Rom, Illyana stabs him in the back with her Soulsword. This weakens Hybrid’s control over Brandy, who shoots Hybrid with Rom’s Neutralizer.

It’s a meh story, as so many of Mantlo’s stories were. The Mutants get some OK use here. The whole forest fire scene felt a bit tacked-on, to show what the Mutants can do, and to give a quick look into their personalities. They felt like exaggerated versions of themselves, which, again, was Mantlo’s writing style – he was very prone to doing exaggerated versions of characters. The art was OK. Overall, I can’t say I particularly cared about this story. This is the first time we see Sam’s family, though, which is a bit odd.

Song of the day: Blow Your Mind by Haight Ashbury.

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  1. New Mutants #42 (1986, August) | xmenxpert

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