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New Mutants #37 (1986, March)

June 14, 2015

This will be the last Secret Wars II comic I have to review. I am very thankful for that. By Claremont and Wilshire, “If I Should Die.”

If I Should Die

This cover is actually pretty light, given what happens inside.

The New Mutants are home alone, watching a bad Western and making fun of it. Karma mentions having had a crush on John Wayne when she was young. Sam mentions Wayne’s real name was Marion. Which is pretty giggle-worthy, today. Amara heats up to make popcorn. As they all joke around, Rahne gets a little upset, pointing out that the villains are Indians, same as Dani. Dani, meanwhile, is talking to her parents on the phone. Dani tells her mom that the others are watching a cowboy movie, and adds, “Of course we’re the bad guys.” That bit actually makes me laugh. I imagine just about every Native American has much the same reaction to cowboy movies. But those movies come from a different, simpler, horrifically racist time, so I suppose we shouldn’t judge them by today’s standards. Except we totally should, and we should all be really uncomfortable with how racist they are. Not that movies have gotten much better at giving good roles to Native American actors – see the mass walk-offs from Adam Sandler’s upcoming abomination.

Anyway. Dani starts to tell her mom about Brightwind, but isn’t sure how to explain that it’s a winged horse belong to the Valkyrior. She sees spirits over the heads of the other Mutants – a demon for Illyana, an angel for Shan, Pluto for Amara. The others have similarly appropriate spirits. She freaks and runs off, and sees herself in a mirror wearing her valkyrie outfit. Then Hela appears in the mirror to explain she has the power to see who’s going to die. Dani continues her freak-out and runs out to the stable to ride off on Brightwind. Up in the clouds, she sees a vision of herself with her grandfather. He gives a quick explanation of the difference between how Cheyenne and whites wage war. Sam catches up to her, and apologizes on everyone’s behalf for hurting her feelings with the movie.

In Manhattan, Bobby’s caught in traffic. A giant crane toppled over, and a young woman’s trapped below it, but the ground’s crumbly, which makes it tough for the emergency crews to move the crane without making it fall into the pit. Sunspot steps forward, and tries to lift up the crane enough for the woman to be pulled free. It starts to slip, but luckily, She-Hulk lifts it. Sunspot feels useless, like he failed, but one of the rescue workers says that Sunspot kept it from slipping for the few seconds needed before She-Hulk got there. He says mutants are OK in his book. Then he asks his driver to take him to the airport, so he can fly down to Brazil to see his mom.

Back at the mansion, the Beyonder arrives. He’s angry at them for refusing the gift he offered. Illyana steps forward to volunteer to be punished, if her friends are spared. He kills her, and the Mutants attack him. Dani tries to scare him, and ends up being drawn into his mind. It’s too much. Karma tries to possess the Beyonder, and her mind is destroyed. The Mutants continue, and seem to kill him.

Nope! Not dead! He creates a pit beneath Amara, and Sam flies in after her, but they both get crushed. Next, he decapitates Warlock, and then disintegrates Doug. Rahne cries, and he blasts her. Dani’s the only one left, and she’s shaken up, but still defiant. The Beyonder says he’s going to wipe them out as if none of them ever existed. She declares it a good day to die, as she disintegrates.

This is an intense comic. It starts out with some nice character stuff. The movie scene is funny, and Rahne sticking up for Dani was fantastic. Bobby’s self-pity was maybe a bit much, but it was still a really nice scene. Then after the Beyonder shows up, things get intense. The ways the Mutants are murdered are nasty, and it’s pretty emotional stuff. Dani gets the spotlight, trying to figure out why it’s happening, and feeling despondent but refusing to just give up. She gets a pretty great line to go out on – “I am Cheyenne, and today is a good day to die!”

Interestingly, when the Beyonder wipes away all memory of the Mutants having existed, he also erases the school. That lasts until next issue – that’s some quick reconstruction. The memory wipe also doesn’t last long. There’s no explanation of when it was reversed, but it’s very clearly reversed at some point. It makes me wonder what the point of it even was, if it wasn’t going to be used.

Wilshire does a good job on art, as usual. The art here is very dark, which is very appropriate for the story. She’ll never be as good as Sienkewicz, even with him inking her, but Sienkewicz was in a class all his own, and her style does have some nice similarities to his.

The New Mutants also appear in Power Pack #20, by Louise Simonson and Bob McLeod. Some demons are loose from Limbo, and have a plan to open a portal to bring Limbo to Earth. They steal some babies from the hospital where Power Pack’s mom is, and the Pack attacks to rescue the babies. After the demons flee, Katie finds a bag with Kitty’s library card. They call the mansion, and explain to Dani about the demons. Dani says it’s Mutant business. Meanwhile, while Alex is talking with Dani, Katie gets captured by the demons. Dani, Sam and Rahne fly to Manhattan to meet with Power Pack.

Alex mentions their mom is dying, and Rahne asks Dani to do something to save her. She agrees to do what she can for the mom, while Sam and Rahne help the Pack with the demons. Dani fights the spirit of death, while the others track Katie to the Empire State Building, where the demons are using her to open a portal. Lightning starts striking, and causes a blackout. At the hospital, the mom’s soul starts moving towards death, but Dani tells her her kids need her. That gets her strength back up.

Manhattan’s almost phased into Limbo. Sam smashes through the stonework Katie’s strapped to, and wakes her up, and she lets loose all the energy she’s absorbed. Manhattan is saved, and Dani banishes the death spirit, saving the Power mom. The Mutants invite Power Pack to visit the school any time they want, and then take their leave.

It’s a nice story. The battle between Dani and the death spirit was . . . not strong. It was way too melodramatic. The main story, with the demons, was more fun, and with better dialogue. Power Pack was always a fun, sweet comic. When are they going to get a movie or TV show or something?

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