New Mutants #43 (1986, September)
Pull list tomorrow. But for today, by Claremont and Steve Purcell, “Getting Even.”
Bobby and his mother are flying into Westchester County Airport, in a small plane. Sam flies up to knock on the window to welcome Bobby back. Dani’s there on Brightwind. Warlock and Doug drop in on top of the plane. Then Illyana comes in to teleport Bobby back to the school. Xi’an and Amara greet him there. Bobby and Sam engage in a playful insult contest, which Amara interrupts because apparently she has no idea it was playful. You’d think she would’ve learned about that sort of thing by now. Oh well. Stevie comes by to test if he’s kept in shape during his vacation. She finds him lacking, and feels the same about the others. Bobby gives her a present, and asks where Tom and Sharon are.
This is when he learns what Empath did to them. He thinks they should go beat the crap out of Empath. Xi’an thinks it’s wrong, but Sam and Dani both decide to do it, and the others go along with it.
In Massachusetts, Empath sees some kids playing, with one pretending to be a mutant, and the others X-Factor. He gets annoyed, and makes the kids playing X-Factor terrified of the girl playing a mutant. That night, as he sleeps, he wakes up in Limbo. The Hellions find Empath’s bed missing, and him with it. Catseye senses Magik’s smell. Jetstream figures they should let the Mutants have him. I like Jetstream.
Empath finds himself in a dusty old bedroom. He steps outside, and the torments really start. It ends when Doug gets second thoughts, and finds himself unable to deck Empath. The Hellions show up, and Dani and Thunderbird shake hands. Thunderbird wakes up Empath, and then tells him to stay in line. While decking him.
A good issue. Very much a done-in-one, but it’s a nice follow-up to the previous arc. It did look like Empath was going to get away with what he put Tom and Sharon through, which would’ve been typical but unfortunate. But nope, this issue shows him getting his comeuppance. It’s worth noting that he actually does begin to improve after this. He never really returns to the depths of cruelty he’d previously shown. Whether that was because he learned from what the Mutants put him through, or because Thunderbird beat some sense into him, I don’t know. But he does definitely show improvements.
I like that Xi’an at no point actually takes part in the torment of Empath. She’s there, but she doesn’t possess him, she doesn’t hit him. She doesn’t actually help. She always had a strong moral code. It wouldn’t have been a stretch to have her possess him, as a way of showing him what it’s like to not be in control of one’s own actions, but it makes sense for her to not be interested. And as the oldest, she would be more willing to refuse to follow orders she believed to be immoral. Then Doug provides another voice of morality, by calling an end to the game. It kinda would’ve been nice if Xi’an had backed him up when he said they were doing wrong, though. But I just really like her, and wanted her to have a bigger role in general.
The art is pretty good. The torment is done really well. Good job with mood and tone. It gets very dark and downright creepy at times. There’s some decent work with expressions. It’s good work. It’s a good issue, albeit a fairly forgettable one.
In addition, Warlock appears in Web of Spider-Man Annual #2, by Ann Nocenti and Arthur Adams. The issue starts with Warlock watching a bunch of TVs at once. The Mutants – who had been sleeping before all the TVs woke them up – come down to chew him out. Illyana tells him that he watches too much TV, and it’s giving him a warped and moronic view of the world. She thinks he needs to go out and learn from the real world. He decides, after an offhand comment from Rahne, to go to New York. Then we cut to New York, where Spider-Man finds some people from the Animal Liberation Front freeing a bunch of animals being used for experiments. Nocenti always liked bringing real-world issues into her comics. Warlock is in New York, looking like David Letterman. He’s getting attention, so he changes to look like a guy in the crowd. He finds Spider-Man, and decides to talk to him, but almost gives away the identities of the New Mutants and panics and runs away. Then he sees some toys in a window, and goes in to check them out. A couple scientists in the store decide to take him home to study him. The guy’s half of the apartment is clean and tidy, while the girl’s is a huge mess. Then there’s some talking and fun stuff. Then a test accidentally overcharges Warlock, making him grow and forget who he is. He becomes Godzilla – Warlodzilla – while spouting lines from TV. Spider-Man shows up and tries to distract him, but Warlock says he needs to focus on not blowing up. Then Warlock changes to King Konglock to climb up on a roof. Then he drops the female scientist, turns into a rocket, and launches into the sky, where he explodes. And that’s the end of Warlock. Wait, no, he’s OK. Later, he sees a new report saying Spider-Man was working with a terrorist group that launched a rocket, and he knows it’s a lie, so he vows to never watch TV again. It’s a pretty good story. Nocenti uses it to explore questions of scientific ethics. She doesn’t really answer any questions about it, she just makes it clear that questions are necessary. The two scientists are kinda fun. They definitely feel like Nocenti characters, especially the woman – they’re weirdly calm about some pretty big things. But they’re still fun. And Adams’ art is great. It’s a good comic.