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New Mutants #36 (1986, February)

May 31, 2015

Now we get to the New Mutants tie-ins to Secret Wars II. By Claremont and Wilshire, “Subway To Salvation!”

Subway To Salvation!

Windsor-Smith knows how much Claremont loves bondage.

Bobby’s being tested. He has to hold up a heavy weight, and Magneto doubles the weight to further test him. Bobby figures Magneto doesn’t think he can handle it, so he proves Magneto wrong. Bobby’s pissed off at Magneto for trying to increase Sunspot’s power. He just wants to be able to live his life in peace. Magneto talks to Nurse Sharon about Bobby’s growing anger and alienation, which started after first meeting the Beyonder. In the locker room, Bobby looks at a photo of Juliana and cries, wishing he’d died with her. He feels like, with the Beyonder around, nothing means anything any more.

In the New York Public Library, Kitty is doing some research on Norse mythology, inspired by the recent Asgard Adventures. Illyana’s on the subway, after a shopping trip at Boomingdale’s, on her way to meet Kitty. The train comes to a sudden stop, and a light appears. Everyone else runs, but she stays, and the Beyonder greets her. She summons her Soulsword and attacks, but he takes it away from her and says he’s there to help her. He pulls up her Darkchild, and then does something to restore her natural balance and make her a good person. The subway car bursts out of the ground and flies off.

Back at the library, Kitty is startled by the sudden appearance of the Soulsword. She wonders why Illyana’s stuff was sent to her, since she’s not a sorceress, but sets that question aside until she can figure out what happened to Illyana. She hears a roar from the main hall, and rushes in to find a giant monster. She dispels it with the Soulsword, but there’s others.

Back at the Mansion, the Mutants are having a pool party. Sam sees something in the air, and flies up to check it out, while the others are attacked by a monster coming out of a portal. Warlock kills it by draining its lifeforce. Sam, meanwhile, sees the flying subway car, and Illyana invites him in to learn what she’s learned. The train lands, and Illyana and Sam start trying to convince everyone to worship the Beyonder. Sam specifically mentions the book Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke. Dani wants to know more about the demon, and Illyana casually explains it’s a lesser demon of the elder host breaking through the weakened barrier between dimensions in an attempt to conquer the Earth. (An editor’s note mentions one appearing in Power Pack #20.)

Illyana says the demons are no big deal, since the Beyonder’s so much more powerful, and that they should just submit to him. Rahne refuses rather passionately, calling it blasphemy. Shan also says she’s content with her own beliefs. Sam decides they have no choice but to show them what they mean, so he blasts and grabs Amara. Warlock stops him from taking her into the car, so Illyana grabs him instead, and starts shifting his perceptions and beliefs. Dani tries to save him by summoning Illyana’s fear, but an actual giant demon shows up.

The demon is wearing Kitty on a necklace. It says that with her Lifesoul, and one more, the gateway will be open. The Mutants attack, but can’t do anything. The demon rips a Bloodstone out of Kitty. Dani yells at Illyana to save Kitty. She says Kitty would make any sacrifice for Illyana, and that Illyana needs to do the same. Illyana takes back her magicks, and her evil. She channels a blast through the Soulsword, then she slashes it in half to dispel it back to its own dimension.

This was pretty good. Better than most SW2 tie-ins, though still not as good as most issues of New Mutants. The demon stuff was the best part. It touches again on the mysterious, never-actually-explained link between Kitty and Illyana. Illyana does make a comment about Kitty being “cast as a guardian.” This is also never actually revisited. It could mean Illyana’s stuff goes to Kitty because Kitty is next in line, so to speak, to guard the realm. Or it could be that Kitty is next in line because of her connection to Illyana. Either way, unfortunately, it’s not something that Claremont ever really built on in any meaningful way. It’s a shame that it was never explored in more depth, because it’s a really interesting idea.

The opening with Bobby was good, though it did get a little bit angsty. Also, Claremont forgot that Bobby never actually met the Beyonder – he wasn’t present when the Mutants first encountered him. It can be explained away as Bobby hearing about the Beyonder, and being scared by what he heard. Or something. Whatever, it’s not important.

Wilshire’s art is OK. It’s Sienkewicz-like, but it’s not Sienkewicz. Though he does do the inking. Still, it’s a clear step down from his time on pencils. It’s not as atmospheric. It has a bit lighter a tone, which is funny, considering this is done when Magneto is running the school. You’d think that would be pretty dark. This issue has demons and brainwashing, to boot, so yeah, Sienkewicz would’ve been way better. Ah, well.


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