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New Mutants #48 (1987, February)

November 16, 2015

So Jessica Jones comes out on Friday. Neat. But we’re not there yet. For today, by Claremont and Guice, “Ashes of the Heart.” (And follow me on Twitter! @XMenXPert)

Ahes of the Heart

OK, Dani with a big gun is awesome.

Bobby, Shan, Amara and Rahne are separated from the others. They’re in front of a wall with a bunch of pictures of dead and captured mutants, at the remains of the Xavier school. Sentinels attack them. Cannonball smashes through one Sentinel. Bobby and Amara take down a second. And Dani takes down the third with a big gun. Pretty easy fight, actually.

Back in the past, Magneto is cleaning Dani’s room. Because he doesn’t have much else to do, I suppose. He’s even made some robots to help him do it. I always find it hilarious when characters in comics have incredibly advanced things that they use for menial tasks. “Hmm, I could patent these robots and revolutionize the world. Nah! I’ll have them make the bed, instead.” Anyway, they detect an intruder and go into defence mode, and grab Stevie Hunter, who’s pretty pissed off about being harassed by a bunch of flying robots. Stevie’s surprised at how important the Mutants are to him, and he says he’s come to care for them. Aw, how sweet.

Back to the future! The Sentinels are looking for the New Mutants, who are holed up in Larry Trask’s old Sentinel base. Sam and Dani are apparently the last ones left of the resistance, but he says there are others who are safe. Then we get a really awkward recap of the last couple issues. Sam knows all about it, proving he is who he is. He talks about how everything bad started getting blamed on mutants, which led to the government getting sanctioned super-teams, like Freedom Force and the Avengers, to bring in “outlaw” mutants. Then the Sentinels were re-activated, and they did what Sentinels do.

Rahne tries to talk to Dani, but Dani tells her to go away. Dani remembers when Rahne died, and doesn’t want to go through that pain again. Sam says they’ve been gathering every mutant they can find, and bringing them to Lila’s Dyson Sphere. The conversation is interrupted by a Sentinel broadcast, saying they’ve captured Lila. The Mutants decide to go rescue her.

They go to Manhattan, where Magma causes an earthquake as a distraction for the infiltration team. Dani and Rahne are going to sneak in. Sam and Bobby are flying along, and a robot painted like Captain America catches Sam with a rope. That’s really interesting. Sentinels are meant to be emotionless. So why did it paint itself like Cap? It serves no logical purpose. So it has to be an emotional decision. Which means that Sentinel, at least, has some sort of emotions. Anyway, they fight the Sentinel, and Karma shoots a piece, and makes a comment about it being nice to be useful for a change. Which is true. Claremont never did much with her, never really let her contribute much. I can understand why, to an extent. Her power could, potentially, be an instant-win condition. Take the bad guy over, fight’s done. That wouldn’t allow the others to do much, so obviously, her attempts always have to fail. And she doesn’t have a physical power, so she can’t help in that respect. (She doesn’t even have Dani’s training and natural athleticism.) In terms of overall narrative, Claremont just didn’t seem to know what to do with her. He focused on other characters, so she didn’t get to contribute a lot to the plot, either. It’s a shame, because she really is a great character.

But! Back to the story. Dani and Rahne have made their way inside. Rahne makes a run for Lila while Dani provides covering fire. She tells Dani to shoot Lila, who turned out to be a cloaked Sentinel. Lila was inside a Sentinel shell. So now they can get away.

Once they’ve regathered, the young Mutants are told they’re going to be left on Earth while Sam and Dani leave with Lila. They need to be left for Illyana to find. Dani says that abandoning the Earth is only a stop-gap measure, and the Sentinels will eventually spread throughout the universe. And then Magma creates a giant volcano in Manhattan. Which is pretty cool.

This is a good issue. This, and the next one, are both about The Future. Looking at how things can go wrong. The next issue’s a lot better than this one, I think, because the future there is more directly related to the potential actions of the Mutants. This one is just Days of Future Past. We’ve seen it before, and there isn’t really anything new added here. We do see how their experiences have changed Sam and Dani, made them harder and colder. But that’s not a particularly original direction to go, either.

But while the story isn’t very original, it is handled well. It’s a well-told story, with nice drama and plenty of action. There’s some good character moments for Sam, Bobby, Dani and Rahne. Shan and Amara do feel a little left out, but that’s true of pretty much the entirety of New Mutants. Claremont never had any idea what to do with either of them, so they just tended to be Around. But the other four get some really nice moments, and their relationships explored in neat ways.

The art is good. Guice does some nice action scenes. Most of the time, the backgrounds are present, rather than things happening in a featureless void. One thing that’s kinda funny, is that the wall left standing at the Xavier school has actually been shaped so that the top says “ASHES.” The story’s title is put on the wall, a common approach in stories. But we get a couple glimpses of the wall after the title page, and the “ASHES” is very clearly visible. So someone actually put in the effort to put that on the wall. Which is just funny.

All in all, a fairly solid issue.

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