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New Mutants #40

July 21, 2015

I hate summer. It sucks so much. Today, by Claremont and Jackson Guice, “Avengers Assemble!”

Avengers Assemble!

This actually looks like a lazy fight.

The Avengers are woken in the middle of the night by a sheriff calling about a threat from Magneto. Claremont makes sure to have Black Knight specifically say that their computer will show them in their costumes, even though they’re in their undies. Of course, how a small-town sheriff has a videophone in 1986 is unexplained. Now, Skype is a thing, which actually makes videophones in comics make more sense now than they did back in the day.

Anyway, the sheriff says he got a call from Emma Frost at the Massachusetts Academy. Wasp apparently almost went there. The Avengers figure Magneto’s reverted back to villainy, which disappoints Cap. He wonders if Magneto’s planning on kidnapping some mutant kids so he can restart his Brotherhood. Kids are malleable, easy to train, indoctrinate and keep in line. So, basically, Cap thinks that Magneto is adopting Xavier’s strategy. Get ’em while they’re still too young and dumb to question you. Funnily enough, Magneto’s never really been shown as being interested in recruiting kids. He always went with adults, people who were fully capable of giving informed consent to following him into battle. Xavier’s the one who preferred to get recruits when they didn’t really know what they were getting into.

Anyway, I digress. The Avengers – Wasp, Captain America, Black Knight, Hercules, Captain Marvel and Namor – get together and go after Magneto.

At the Academy, the Hellions and Mutants are doing some training. Magma’s making flame hoops for Sam and Jetstream to fly through. Emma demands to know why they’re in the training room so early, and Sam says they’ve been feeling edgy, and hoped exercise would work. Jetstream adds that none of the Mutants have been sleeping well, they’ve all had nightmares. Emma does a quick mindscan, but can’t find the cause of their problems.

Warlock and Magneto are approaching the school, with Warlock somewhat disguised as the Blackbird. He says he wants to absorb Emma’s lifeglow, and Magneto tells him he’s never to do that. Then the Avengers attack. Hercules strikes first, slamming his mace on Warlock’s back, not realizing it’s not a normal plane. His scream certainly gets some attention, and so does the way he winds up draped across the countryside. Magneto tries to help Warlock by slowly feeding him some magnetic energy.

The Avengers find Magneto, and attack. He’s quickly overpowered and grabbed in Hercules’ bearhug. They accuse him of wanting to kidnap kids. Magneto can’t reveal the Mutants’ secret identities, so he just says he’s there on personal business, and swears he doesn’t mean anyone any harm. He points out that the Avengers have accepted Namor’s change of heart, and Cap argues that Namor helped fight the Nazis in World War 2. Oh, dude, no, wrong thing to say to Magneto.

He breaks away. The Avengers go searching, but Cap tells Black Knight to examine the plane wreckage. Then he throws his shield at Magneto, who can’t affect it. Which contradicts all the other times Magneto’s affected the shield. Magneto starts getting fed up, and wants to start unleashing his full power, but he holds back. He traps Hercules in a rock cocoon and throws him away, with Captain Marvel following to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone when he lands.

In the Academy lunchroom, Amara says she feels something nearby, and that it feels like Magneto. The Mutants wonder what to do, whether Emma will send them after Magneto, and what they want to do in general. Illyana decides to check it out, by teleporting over to where Amara sensed Magneto. He tells her to get out of there, which Cap finds odd. He throws his shield, which Illyana teleports to Limbo. She lets the other Mutants know what’s going on, and tells them she’s going to help him. The others decide to join her.

Magneto gets finished off by the Avengers. Warlock panics and attacks them. Magneto worries that Warlock will hurt them, so he stops Warlock. He asks that they let him help Warlock, and then they can do what they choose with him. The Mutants show up and grab Magneto and Warlock and leave, and Cap wonders if they made a mistake in attacking Magneto, and assuming the worst about him. Of course, they could always call up the X-Men and ask for a chance to talk to magneto peacefully. But nope.

Magneto, Emma and the Mutants go to an inn, and spend a few days figuring out what’s wrong with the Mutants. The problem, it turns out, is that they never actually dealt with the huge emotional cost of dying. So, they deal with it. It’s interesting seeing how each deals with it. We see Sam and Amara hug, Doug sits close to Warlock, Rahne curls up and cries in Magneto’s arms, and Shan and Illyana each sit off by themselves. Magneto and Emma chat about it, and when asked why she helped, Emma says either the goodness of her heart or no use for damaged goods. Very ambiguous. Sam tells her the Mutants will stay with Magneto, and she says that’s fine, and that she hopes they remember her with fondness, and that the Mutants and Hellions don’t need to be enemies, only rivals. As she walks away, she talks to herself about Magneto not being able to cast her as a villain. Somewhat less ambiguous, which bothers me.

This is an excellent issue. Magneto’s fight against the Avengers is really interesting to see. As a villain, he was always able to hold them at bay pretty easily. As a hero, he struggles, and eventually loses. Villains really are more powerful than heroes. At least here, there’s an excuse: He’s intentionally holding back. Just the same, it’s kinda funny. I also like how Cap, throughout the fight, keeps wondering about Magneto’s actions.

I do like how, for most of the issue, Emma came across as fairly ambiguous, about whether she actually cared for the Mutants or was trying to fix them for her own purposes. The final panel pushes her more towards fixing things for her own purposes, which is why I dislike it. It was better when it could be read either way. That said, this arc is arguably the beginning of Emma’s gradual move away from pure villain.

The art was good. Guice did a good job with the action, and also did well with dialogue scenes and expressions. There’s a definite energy to the action bits. I’d say that’s what he does best.

Solid comic. The next couple issues are really cool done-in-ones.

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