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New Mutants Special Edition #1 (1985, December)

April 20, 2015

For Asgard! By Claremont and Arthur Adams, “Home Is Where the Heart Is.”

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Bitchin’ wrap-around cover. For Asgard! Aaaaasgaaaaard!

Loki is watching his DVR of Surtur’s invasion of Earth, and the heroes fighting his forces. Specifically, Loki is watching Storm kicking ass and not being too terribly interested in names or bubblegum. He gets an idea to tempt her with the power of a goddess, and gets the Enchantress to help him. He also mentions that the X-Men recently screwed up, and that he’s forbidden to get revenge on them. He’s referencing the X-Men and Alpha Flight two-part special, which I’ll be reviewing soon. December 1985 was an insane month.

Meanwhile, Storm and the New Mutants are on the island of Kirinos. Storm brings Shan breakfast, but she doesn’t want it. She’s so fat and gross that she wants to die. The other Mutants are off having a picnic. Warlock, in a bikini, is mesmerized by the Mediterranean. Illyana tells him to change to gender-conforming clothes. He changes to giant denim shorts. Then he changes to a two-piece bikini while Doug and Illyana chat about how crazy Doug’s life has become. Dani and Rahne have sneaked away up the cliff, and Dani uses her illusions to throw an impromptu Danger Room session on the others. A sea monster and a rockslide.

The others are a bit angry at her. Bobby wants to know why they can’t just live normal lives. Dani says their lives are never going to be normal. Then the sky gets dark, and the Mutants rush back up to join Storm. Warlock flies up to investigate, but gets fries by lightning, and Illyana’s Soulsword starts acting up in a way that suggests sorcery or demons. Some warriors attack, and Storm recognizes their armour as Asgardian. They beat the Mutants up and take them hostage.

Loki puts Storm into a Crystal Chrysalis. The Mutants are in Enchantress’ hold, and she’s going to kill them all. Illyana teleports them away, but she hits some sort of barrier. The others are lost, and she’s still in the Enchantress’ dungeon. She’s magically held to a wall that saps her mystic strength.

Karma is in a desert. She’s alone, with nothing around her. She decides to lay down and die. Cypher appears in a dining hall, where the lord of the hall demands to know who he is. Another guy keeps pushing him, and Doug gets annoyed and pushes back. The lord decides to let Doug prove himself against someone closer to his size – a serving maid. Doug can’t even lift the sword he’s handed, so he’s reduced to the role of slave. Rahne is in a forest, being hunted by giants. Another wolf makes the giants fall over each other, to Rahne’s amusement. She’s attracted to him, and she follows him. Warlock is in a cave, and a dragon roars at him. Warlock decides to consume the dragon. He changes his appearance to look like Longshot – I suppose a little nod at the limited series being done by this book’s editor, Nocenti, and artist, Adams. Cute in-joke. It makes no sense in-story, but it’s still a cute joke. It turns out he’s in Hel, and he flees from Hela. She seems oddly amused by him.

Bobby’s in a bar, arm-wrestling. He uses his power to win, and the guy gets angry and accuses him of cheating. The guy grabs one of the maids at Bobby’s side, and Bobby smashes him through a wall. Bar fight! Which Bobby wins. The owner makes him bouncer, and the women flock to him. Magma is in a forest, with some gnomes and fairies and stuff. She drinks something they give her, and then gorges herself on food and drink, and then passes out as they declare her humanity is going to die. Sam is in a cave, and he’s found by some dwarfs. He asks for food and water, and they say he needs to pay. They hear a scream, and Sam flies off to find the woman. He saves her from some trolls, and gets her to safety, before passing out with a spear sticking out his back. Dani’s in a field, and she finds a winged horse, wrapped in barb wire, sinking in a bog. She helps it get free, just as some armed warriors on horseback arrive. They’re there to kill the horse. She refuses to let them, so a rider charges forward to spear her. She grabs it and uses his own momentum to flip him over. Then she brings up a spirit form of Hela to scare the riders off. One rider sees through it and throws his axe, but a woman on another winged horse catches the axe. She scares the shit out of the warriors, forcing them to leave. The woman, Mist, invites Dani to join her and her sisters at their place.

Enchantress is toying with Illyana, reducing her to infancy, then trying to make her a crone. The crone spell doesn’t work on her. Apparently, Illyana doesn’t age. Illyana refuses to join the Enchantress, so she pulls out Illyana’s Darkchild and gives it physical form. She also says that any damage the Darkchild takes will actually be reflected on Illyana.

Shan is still in the desert. She sees a sand demon threatening a young girl. She uses her possession power to drive the beast away, and the girl asks her to take care of her until they’re out of the desert. At the dining hall, Doug’s not happy. Worse, someone trips him, so he spills food on the lord, which earns him an imminent whipping. The Darkchild shows up to grab him first. The other warriors are being slaughtered, so Doug jumps out a window, right into Warlock’s waiting arms. They flee. In the forest, Rahne’s wolf friend takes a wolf-man form, and Rahne takes her transitional form. He’s a prince, and he starts making a move. She remembers her friends, and runs off to find them.

At the bar, the Warriors Three arrive for food and ale. Bobby mocks Volstagg’s weight, so Volstagg issues a challenge. Bobby’s test is to pick Volstagg up. Bobby strains hard, but does it. And pulls a muscle in the process. The Warriors Three are impressed, and decide to celebrate by showing him around town. Meanwhile, Bobby is unable to move. Sam is bed-ridden, and doesn’t like it. Soon enough, he’s able to get up to sit by a fire. He tells Eitri, the guy who took him in about what happened, and says that as soon as he’s well enough, he plans to find his friends and confront the Enchantress. The Eitri’s daughter, after pinching Sam’s butt, invites him to stay with them. Amara burns through the cave wall to attack, but she’s changed. Eitri takes Amara out with a fire extinguisher. Which is . . . interesting? I was unaware Asgard had fire extinguishers. Sam takes the others out with a table. Eitri says dwarf magic can’t return Amara to human, but can at least fix her mind.

Dani’s riding her new horse, Brightwind, beside some other women. She sees some riders on the ground, and decides to ask if they’ve seen any sign of the Mutants, but they run away as soon as they see her. Dani wants to know why, but doesn’t get an answer. Later, she overhears the others arguing about her, with the decision that she has to be one of them, and has to seal the deal in blood. Dani flees.

Shan is still in the desert. She’s lost a lot of the weight, but is still overweight. But she’s still keeping herself and the little girl alive. Bobby thinks Asgard’s a dream come true, but hates that the Mutants aren’t there to enjoy it with him. Illyana shows up for him, and encases him in magical armour that makes him a mindless slave to the Enchantress. At Eitri’s cave, Loki shows up with Storm. He uses a cloak to disguise her as a falcon, then goes in to talk to Eitri. Sam is trying to comfort Amara, who’s losing touch with her old life. Loki asks Eitri for a new magic hammer. Loki spots Sam and asks who he is. Eitri says he’s an idiot nephew whose mother slept with an Aesir, resulting in his height. Loki says he should kill him, but spares him, and forces Eitri to agree to make the hammer. After Loki leaves, Sam wonders if the falcon was Storm, and Eitri, out of spite towards Loki, promises to give Sam whatever help he needs.

Rahne hears the wolf prince howling. He asks what’s wrong, and he says he missed her, and asks her to stay with him. She runs away again, right to Illyana, who encases her in armour. Shan, once again svelte and sexy, finally finds the edge of the desert. I just have to point out that weight loss does not work that way. To lose the amount of weight she did, she would not have tight, toned skin. She would have tons of stretch marks, and plenty of folds of skin. She would need a significant amount of plastic surgery to get her skin to look semi-normal. The fact that her skin is so tight is actually something that takes me out of the story a bit. Using psychic powers to survive in a desert for months? Sure, I’ll accept that. But having no loose skin after losing what must have been hundreds of pounds? Nope! It’s the little details like that that always take a person out of a story. Anyway, Warlock and Doug fly down for a joyful reunion. The child is gone, and only a white string was left behind. Illyana shows up, and explains that the string Shan has is a sign of the Norns. She’s there to take Shan, Doug and Warlock as the Enchantress’ slave. Shan refuses to be a slave, and draws her sword. Hell yeah, she looks badass with a sword. Sam and Amara join the fight, followed by Dani. Sam and Amara get captured by Illyana, but Warlock and Doug save Shan. Also, Claremont has Illyana saying “wherefore” to mean “where.” You’re a professional writer, Chris. “Wherefore” is “why.” Enchantress, watching the fight, sees Dani riding a winged horse, and realizes she’s a Valkyrie. Shan tries to possess Illyana, which blows up the Enchantress’ TV.

The next morning, the Enchantress is woken to find her forces have returned triumphant. She goes out to inspect her new slaves, but they were faking it. Shan, by the way, has switched to a spear. Enchantress flees while the Mutants fight her mobs. Dani thins the herd a bit by summoning a pretty damned awesome illusion of a giant, angry, burning Odin bursting out of the ground. It’s pretty impressive. Shan is still possessing the Darkchild, which is taking all her strength. She wonders how Illyana endures her own evil side. On the stairs down to the dungeon, a pair of guards attack. The Darkchild takes out one, and Shan damned near kills the second with her sword. At the bottom of the stairs, she finds Illyana in really bad shape. Illyana has her two halves restored, which heals her. The Enchantress prepares to kill her, but the Mutants stop her. Dani distracts her with an illusion of Surtur, which gives Shan a chance to possess her, long enough to make her remove the wards preventing teleporting.

To Limbo! Where the Enchantress is now in Illyana’s power. She leaves the Enchantress in S’ym’s mercy – no physical harm allowed, but beyond that, fair game. Now, they have to decide what to do next. Storm is still Loki’s prisoner, so they have to save her. Illyana suggests going home and getting the X-Men, but Bobby says they can handle it, and that he doesn’t want to go home anyway. Dani doesn’t want to leave Brightwind behind, Rahne wants to see her wolf prince again, Amara can’t go back anyway, and Shan wants to know why the Norns were interested in her.

This is such a great issue. So much fun, so much drama, so much action, so much everything. It helps that it’s 64 pages – nearly three times the size of normal comics of the time, which were 22 pages. Claremont uses the extra space well. It lets him spread the story out, but he still doesn’t waste any space. He can do all the vignettes showing what each character is up to, which would probably end up being too much if spread throughout three issues, and those vignettes are probably the best part of the comic. It’s straight character work, with Shan being forced to overcome her despair at what happened to her, Bobby enjoying the benefits of Asgard making him more powerful, Dani being welcomed by the Valkryor, Rahne’s first real love, and the stuff happening to the others. It’s all really cool, interesting stuff. Rahne falling in love happens fast – like, as soon as she meets the guy – but it’s sweet, and it’s how teenagers fall in love, so it’s fine. It’s cute.

It is kind of a shame we don’t get to see Shan really doing any fighting. She looks awesome with the sword, it would’ve been fun to see her kick some ass with it. This issue does also see Doug and Warlock getting a bit closer, as Warlock forms power armour around Doug so they can work together to kick ass. Speaking of Warlock, Adams did a great job with him. He really used Warlock’s shapeshifting in fun ways. I think my favourite is Warlock pointing, and his finger has his face, screaming, while his normal face tells everyone Illyana’s there. It’s just cute, the way his finger screams.

Speaking of Adams, he did a good job in general. There are a lot of panels that are lacking in detail, which is a bit disappointing, but for the most part, it looks great. He does a solid job with facial expressions, and he does a few great action panels. He does better with quieter scenes than with more action-oriented ones. The more he has to draw, the less detail there is. It ends up being distracting. The colouring doesn’t help – background characters don’t have colour at all. They’re basically blue. That’s what’s really a problem. It’s not Adams’ fault, but it hurts the book.

Still! That aside, this is a fantastic comic. It’s one of the most well-regarded New Mutants stories, and it deserves the love it gets. It really is a great read.

Song of the day: All This Time by the Heartless Bastards.

 

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One Comment
  1. I still need to track down the original New Mutants series sometime. Also, Loki watching DVR sounds hilarious.

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