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Firestar #1 (1986, March)

June 21, 2015

One crappy female solo title ends, and a much better one begins (though it’s only a mini, sadly). By Tom DeFalco and Mary Wilshire, “Mark of the Mutant.”

Mark of the Mutant

It’s Firestar! She’s cool.

13-year-old Angelica is having her palm read by her grandma, who shows her the way the lines in her palm form an ‘M’. Grandma says it means she has exceptional gifts, and is a special person. Angel heads off to her first day at her new school. As an aside, she has a cute cat. Yes, cat. We find out that her mom’s dead, and her dad has to keep them moving a lot to find work. Also, her grandmother’s very sick.

Angel gets to school, and is really nervous. Some girls talk trash about her, but stop when a really cute guy walks over. The leader of the girls has decided to make him hers, and she goes to flirt with him. The guy decides to introduce himself to Angel.

At the Xavier School, Kitty’s looking for a tool. She heads back to Xavier’s office, where she helps him do some maintenance on Cerebro. We get some “As you know” exposition about Cerebro, for anyone who’s not familiar with the X-Men. It’s really, really clunky. The New Mutants are outside playing volleyball. In Massachusetts, Ema Frost heads down to a computer centre beneath her school, to see if any new mutants have been detected. She sees that someone’s deserted his post, and when he gets back with coffee, she fries his brain and tells him the Hellfire Club is in a race with Xavier. A race which neither side ever seemed terribly interested in, considering how seldom we saw new mutants in either group back then. I mean, even with the New Mutants, Sunspot was the only one actively sought out, with the otehrs all showing up out of circumstance.

Back to Angelica! She’s having trouble in school, as her last school didn’t cover what’s being talked about. At lunch, she tries to sit with the Mean Girls, but gets insulted. She gets upset, and her hand starts to glow without her noticing. She accidentally blows up her milk, making it spill all over the teacher. She gets detention.

Cut a few months later, to December. Cute Boy tells her she’s got artistic talent, so she should enter the ice sculpture contest. The Mean Girls enter, too. As the kids all work on their sculptures, Mean Girl #1 tries to call over Cute Boy, but he heads over to Angel, instead. The Mean Girls are angry, and decide to get REVENGE!

The next morning, Angel’s excited for the judging of the contest. She thinks she has a chance to win it. Her cat is still cute. After Angel and her father both leave, Grandma has a heart attack. When Angel gets to school, she sees her ice angel has been smashed. She gets upset and stares at the ‘M’ on her hand, and the Mean Girls ask what she’s staring at, and she explains about the ‘M’, and they point out that everyone has that. They walk away laughing, and Angel freaks out and melts all the other ice sculptures. She runs away. She tries to use a pay phone to call home, but it melts in her hand.

Xavier and Emma both detect Angel’s power usage. Angel runs home, and sees an ambulance outside.  Her dad tells her Grandma’s dead. At the funeral, Angel tries to talk to her dad, but he tells her things will be fine. She shows him her power, and he gets scared. At home, he’s feeling bad, trying to think of what to do. Emma enters and tells him she’ll help Angel. When Emma goes up to see Angel, the cat – still cute – takes an immediate disliking to her. Emma tells Angel she runs a school, and she wants to train Angel. Xavier arrives too late, and keeps on driving.

This is actually a pretty fun issue. The high school cliches are in full force, of course. The Mean Girls, the Cute Boy who’s the only one nice to the Smart And Cute But Inexplicably Unpopular Girl. The Dead Mother, the Kind But Tired Father whose unexplained job forces him to move a lot, the Kindly Grandmother. All very cliched. But it’s so cliched that it actually ends up being funny. Luckily, most of those characters are gone after this issue.

One thing I will say about this issue is that if you can read it without looking at your own palm once, then you’re probably a lot smarter than I am. I’m not ashamed to admit that I checked my palm, and found the ‘M’. Actually, the whole “Mark of the Mutant” thing was a pretty clever idea from DeFalco. As an adult, of course, it’s just goofy. But this book was aimed more at teens, especially younger teens. And more, it was aimed at geeky young teens, the exact people who want to envision themselves in these stories. So the “Mark of the Mutant” allows them to believe that their own palm-‘M’ is one of the special ones, and they’re a special person. It makes it that much easier for a younger reader to put themselves into the story.

On the art side, Wilshire’s work here is very, very different from her New Mutants work. Probably because she doesn’t have Bill Sienkewicz inking her, and the overall tone of the book is very different. New Mutants was dark and intense, Firestar is more typical teen drama. It’s not exactly light, but it’s meant to be a little more realistic. So Wilshire goes with a much more conventional art style. It’s not exactly great art, but it’s competent. It’s good enough for the book.

All in all, I actually did enjoy reading this, even if part of the fun came from poking fun at it.

Also, cute cat. I like cats. I think I will pretty much always point out cats when I see them in comics. Because kitty! Kitty kitty kitty!

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