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New Mutants #22 (1984, December)

November 10, 2014

Just a few more posts before I finish 1984. So close. Today, by Claremont and Sienkewicz, “The Shadow Within.”

The Shadow Within

Trust me, this issue gets a lot darker than the cover suggests. Though it is an adorable cover.

Nightcrawler is showing Sam how to do an acrobatic move. Sam’s nervous to try, afraid of failing. Rahne comes in to wish him luck. Sam tries, and he fails, and almost hurts himself, with Nightcrawler having to save him. Kurt mentions he screwed up the first time he tried it, too. He gets Sam to climb back up to the platform, then decides to do something about Rahne’s attitude towards him. He whips up a holographic circus, with Rahne and himself as clowns. She thinks Kurt is Sam, and is shocked and angry when she learns it’s Kurt. He tells her not to judge by appearance. She freaks out, and says if Kurt’s not a demon, then all she’s been taught is a lie.

Down the hall, Colossus is trying to teach Roberto some judo. He reminds Roberto that he’s no tougher than a normal person, which annoys Roberto. As well it should – Roberto hears that a lot. “You’re strong, but you’re not invulnerable!” ‘Berto’s distracted by Rahne running by, and Colossus smacks him with a stick. ‘Berto gets mad and grapples with Colossus, and actually hurts him when his hands turn to claws for a moment. Colossus feels sick.

Down the hall some more, Rahne watches as Xavier and Moira run some tests on Warlock. Then she runs to talk to Dani, who’s on the phone with her parents. Dani suggests that, once she’s recovered, she can take the Mutants out to Colorado, and teach Rahne to ride. Rahne runs off again, and Dani worries about her and ‘Berto.

In New York, a woman walks into a fashionable boutique and tells the owner, Von Roehm, to dismiss his staff and lock up the shop. It’s Selene, and Von Roehm apparently is part of a secret sect that worships her. She tells him she needs a residence, and he suggests the Hellfire Club. Speaking of which, Emmanuel DaCosta is there, ready to be initiated into the Inner Circle.

Back at the school, ‘Berto and Amara are in the pool, while Rahne is writing. She writes a story about an enchanted princess named Alystraea, living in a cottage in the woods, with all her animal friends. One day, Prince Duncan crashes through the door, badly injured, saying he’s possessed by the Shadow. The Silver Sorceress did it to him. The Princess turns into a wolf to hunt the Sorceress down. She follows the trail to The City, where a Taxi tells her where to find the Sorceress. In a park, she finds the Silver Sorceress, wearing a medallion, and her guardian, the Black Baron. Alystraea attacks, and kills the Silver Sorceress.

Later, Rahne is in bed, holding the medallion from the story.

Then there’s profiles on Rahne – lots of potential, but hides in her wolf form too much; Dani – good leader, strong-willed, willing to admit her mistakes and learn from them (also, she’s drawn with a bow and arrow, which is cool, because she looks like a stone-cold badass when she’s got her bow and arrows); and Amara – adapted very quickly to her new situation, potentially about as smart as Kitty, needs to learn to control her power.

This is a really good issue. I love these downtime issues, and this does a really good job of it. We get to see the X-Men are involved in training the New Mutants, which is a nice touch that should’ve been followed up on way more than it ever was. Nightcrawler, in particular, came across really well here, with his teaching of Sam and his attempt at teaching Rahne a lesson. Rahne’s reaction was, I think, maybe a bit much. I can definitely see her being uncomfortable with Nightcrawler. That makes perfect sense. But her comment that, if he’s not a demon, she has to doubt what’s in the Bible itself – that just felt weird and crazy. Sure, she’s young, but even so, I didn’t buy that part. Her “fairy tale” story was . . . interesting. It starts off as a ridiculous Disney knock-off, then it gets dark really fast once she gets to The City, and ends really dark when she seems to kill the Silver Sorceress.

Sienkewicz is still amazing. This issue is generally less dark in tone, so the art is a bit lighter, too. Of course, there’s still plenty of dark moments, and he nails those bits. But he does a brilliant job all through, getting across exactly what we should feel at any given panel. This is especially notable, once again, in Rahne’s fairy tale, which starts, again, as a Disney parody, then gets gritty and grimy, and then gets downright scary.

This issue also touches again on Selene, and prepares for her introduction to the Hellfire Club.

Song of the day: Change by Churchill.

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