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New Mutants #41 (1986, July)

August 6, 2015

Tonight is Jon Stewart’s final episode of the Daily Show. It’s very sad. I’m expecting tears, But for now, by Claremont and Guice, “Way of the Warrior.”

Way of the Warrior

Dani, the goal is to shoot before your opponent.

Dani arrives in Colorado, riding Brightwind. She’s sore and a little sick. She reflects on the three things she is – Valkyrie, Cheyenne, Mutant – and wonders who’s the real her. Brightwind finds a bit of mountain to land on, so Dani can get off and stretch her legs. The clouds break as sunrise arrives, showing the Rockies. She finally gets home as a storm arrives, and is bashed by her parents opening the door. They’re glad to see her, but have a lot to do to prepare for the storm. They tell Dani to put her horse in the barn, and that they’d be back soon. Dani remembers they said that the night they disappeared. Don’t be so paranoid, Dani. What are the odds it would happen twice? And then more angst about not helping her parents, about not helping Black Eagle, about not helping the New Mutants. She falls asleep in the barn.

She wakes up in her bed, in her room. Her parents are gone again. She thinks about how the house seems smaller. She decides to take a shower. She wonders if she should cut her hair, and uses her power to imagine what she’d look like. She’d look like nope. A big ol’ nope. Her mom comes in to say there’s still a lot of work to do, and they can’t wait for Dani, but she leaves cash and a credit card for Dani to get some new clothes.

Dani heads to a mall. It wasn’t there when she was a kid, and she reflects that she misses the land but loves the stores. She does some shopping. She continues to wonder about the New Mutants, whether Magneto could’ve done more, or if they would’ve remained broken. as she shops and thinks, some guy bugs her. He’s a racist prick. They used to be friends, apparently, until she used her power on him. So now he’s a jerk. Dani sees a death image over him. She panics and runs. When she’s gone, Racist Douche threatens to kill her. Dani wonders what to do. As he drives out of the mall, he almost gets in a car accident, and his sudden stop knocks his beer and insulin off his car seat.

The next day, she checks in with her parents by CB radio. She tells Brightwind about her past with Pat. She taught him to ride, he taught her to shoot rifles and a bow. She was staying with his family after her parents vanished, and he said something that annoyed her, and she used her power on him. Then she ran away before things could be settled. An emergency call comes over the radio, from Pat. She gets on Brightwind and rides after Pat.

She finds his truck totaled, and Pat passed out. She wouldn’t be able to keep hold of him on horseback, so she drags him to a cave. He attacks her with an axe, but it was just an illusion drawn from his mind. Next is an image of them getting married. She asks how he can both hate and love her so much, and he says it’s tearing him apart. She’s determined to save him, and calls for her gods to keep him alive. She hears thunder, and goes to check it out. There’s a cowboy outside. The death spirit is willing to duel Dani for Pat’s life, even though Pat doesn’t want her to. She shoots the spirit and saves him. Then Pat disappears. She turns around, and sees him still sleeping where she put him.

Later, at a hospital, Dani waits. An old Cheyenne woman tells dani that Pat was diabetic. His insulin supply was smashed. He went too long without treatment, so now he’s slipped into a coma he’ll never wake from. The woman is Death. Dani stands to defend Pat. She refuses to let her take Pat. But Death says that, for Pat’s sake, she has to let him go.

At home, she feels terrible for not being able to save him, and she cuddles up on the couch with her parents.

This is a really good spotlight issue for Dani, showing her various doubts and fears, and her courage and determination. She can get a bit heavy on the self-doubt and self-pity, but that’s kinda Claremont’s thing, and she pushes past it when she needs to, which is his other thing. The confrontation with Cowboy Death was kinda cool, and then her conversation with Death at the hospital was really good. Then her heartbreak after Pat dies was really sad, really well-done. Pat himself was kind of a bland character. He was as much plot device as anything else. “I hate you but I love you!” He didn’t actually get to have much of a personality, beyond being a dick at the mall.

Guice’s art is good. Solid work. Once again, nothing really exceptional, nothing that stands out from most comics of the time, but it’s competent work, definitely high-quality. He does some very nice settings. One thing I noticed is, when Dani’s at the mall, she tries on a skirt that looks like it leaves her underwear showing. Which is . . . uncomfortable, given she’s a teenager. But I might be wrong about it. I might be seeing it wrong or something. But it really, really looks like her underwear’s sticking out.

All in all, a strong done-in-one spotlight issue.

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