New Mutants #50 (1987, April)
Illyana’s been fighting for a while, trying to regain control of Limbo. One of the demons touches her, and infects her with the Transmode Virus. She slices her leg with her Soulsword, which purges the Virus, but also covers her leg in mystic armour. S’ym is leading the revolution against her, in order to take control of Limbo himself, having been Transmoded. Illyana stabs her Soulsword into the ground, disrupting the very fabric of Limbo.
We then cut to an alien world, where the Starjammers are looking for materials to repair their ship. Xavier talks about how he misses the New Mutants. Then he catches a psi-flash, and rushes outside to find Illyana on an auction block to be sold as a slave. She tries to resist, but the auctioneer subdues her with a pleasure-burst. That was a minor thing with Claremont. It luckily didn’t come up too often, because it actually is kinda creepy, the whole “subdued with pleasure” deal. Xavier goes up to claim her, and the auctioneer tries to hit him with a pain-beam, but Xavier resists. Binary helps out and the Starjammers escape.
She wakes up later, glad to see Xavier. While she eats, she mentions that Scott and Maddie had a baby, but haven’t told anyone the name. This is a cute reference to the fact that the readers were never told the kid’s name, either. Seriously, Claremont still hadn’t come up with a name, and Simonson hadn’t named it, either. I forget off-hand which comic it was where he finally got his name, but I think it was X-Factor. She also mentions the Massacre, and also explains how they were attacked by the Magus. She has a breakdown, which is nice reminder that, for all she’s a demon sorceress, she’s also a teenage girl. It’s a really good scene. It’s also explained by her being split in half – she’s incomplete without her dark side. Which leads to another awesome moment where she says everyone would be happy if she cast out her dark side, but that she feels empty without magic.
A little later, Xavier, Illyana, Lilandra and Binary teleport to Limbo. It’s a paradise. S’ym attacks, and Illyana’s the only one who can stop him, and only by drawing the Soulsword. S’ym retreats, and the four go to find the New Mutants. First, Sam, Dani, Doug and Warlock, who are soon to be brainwashed. Then, Shan, Bobby, Amara and Rahne, who are being attacked by Sentinels. Amara is actually pretty awesome. “This may be our last stand, honoured comrades, but by Mars, it shall be a glorious one!” That’s Amara at her best. That bit of haughtiness. Anyway, they get rescued. Binary takes out two Sentinels at once, and I’m pretty sure the only reason she doesn’t take out the others is because she didn’t want to hog all the fun. There’s also an interesting moment where Dani and Bobby kinda stare at each other, each thinking of the future they saw for the other.
They teleport back to the Starjammer. The planet they were on is dying, being torn apart by the Magus. The Mutants refuse to hand Warlock over, and develop a plan for fighting Magus. Step one, Amara jumps out onto a bit of rock to be in contact with the planet so she can use it against him. Then Illyana teleports away a chunk of his body. Amara has to hold the planet together a little longer. We also get a moment of Bobby feeling useless. Warlock decides it’s time he fought back. It doesn’t go well. But Doug comes up with an idea.
Dani sends a spirit-vision of Warlock at Magus, then Shan momentarily possesses him. Doug and Warlock fly onto the back of Magus’ head. Binary and Bobby cover them while they work. Doug feels overwhelmed, and asks Xavier for help, but Xavier refuses, because Xavier’s kind of a dick who needs to turn everything into a test. Doug and Warlock manage to revert Magus to childhood.
This issue was good. Xavier bugs me here, I’ll say that. I’m not sure why. There’s just something about the way he’s used in this issue that rubs me the wrong way. Other than that, there’s a lot of great stuff. Illyana gets some fantastic moments in the first chunk of the issue, but does get largely pushed aside in the second half. The Magus is menacing, but still somehow doesn’t come across as all that big a threat. He does a lot of threatening, boasting about his power, but truthfully, we don’t actually get to see much of that power. I mean, yes, he is tearing a planet apart. But against the Mutants themselves, he doesn’t actually do anything. He just kinda yells at them. It makes him seem weaker. That was sometimes a problem with comics at the time, and always a problem with Claremont. You’d get these hugely powerful villains who just stand around doing nothing while the heroes plan and attack. It drains out a lot of tension. Also, Warlock gets a lot less focus in the climax than he should. Doug gets a lot more of the focus. It should’ve been split better to give them equal focus, given it’s Warlock’s dad they’re fighting.
The art is nice enough. Guice does a decent job with expressions and body language. None of the art really pops, though. It’s serviceable, but not particularly outstanding. It works better for the first half of the issue. For the second half, an artist with a more surreal style would have worked better. Might have made Magus look better.
All in all, a pretty good issue, but one with some definite flaws.