New Mutants #53 (1987, July)
Doug’s looking in a mirror, and sees something happening to his eye. He freaks out, and the team goes to check on him. Sam puts his hands on Doug’s shoulders, and gets transmoded. Doug also transforms. Shan tries to possess him, and he accidentally absorbs her life, too. Then Rahne, Amara, Illyana and finally, Dani, who thinks about how she was unable to scare him because his greatest fear is what’s happening. This is pretty clearly a dream. So Doug’s dream includes Dani’s thoughts. That’s kinda weird. Anyway, he flees, and comes across Warlock, who says that, since Doug is Warlock’s son, they have to fight to the death.
Then Doug wakes up, sitting on the toilet, back to normal. Though we do get a slight hint that there’s still some transmode virus in him. Dun dun duuun! That won’t have a chance to become relevant again in New Mutants.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, someone buys a Selene statue, and plans on using it to get into the Hellfire Club. Speaking of which, the New Mutants and Magneto are teleported close to the Club by Illyana. They’re all dressed up fancy-like. After they spent weeks being grounded, they’ve been allowed to attend a gala at the Club, whcih makes the Mutants nervous, what with the Hellfire Club usually being enemies. Doug’s nervous, and Illyana offers to protect him, but that just pisses him off. Touchy. And then he almost gets touched by a cab. And by “touched,” I mean it almost runs him over. Illyana rescues him, which annoys him again. Tooouuuchy.
Inside Amara sees Selene, and gives her a nasty look. She starts heating up the room, until Dani stops her. Tarot goes over to ask Doug for a dance, and he tells her off. Doug is a dick in this issue. Tarot’s just trying to be a friend and dance with a cute boy, and he bites her head off. Empath is amused, until a quick waltz with Illyana leaves him terrified. Illyana’s great. Dani and Thunderbird have a brief scene. Then it’s Rahne and Catseye! Yay! I love those two as friends. I really, really wish Catseye could be brought back, so we could get a reunion with Rahne. Because they were always just so much fun together.
Dani senses Rahne’s shift, and she and Thunderbird go looking, while Sam and Jetstream debate who’s the better flyer. And Amara just stands and watches.
Then the guy we saw earlier comes in to boast about the statue he bought. Amara says it’s a fake, and the original, a representation of her ancient ancestor, is in her family’s possession. Selene reveals she is Amara’s ancestor. And also that the statue is a fake. The revelation is interesting, but never actually goes anywhere. I imagine, if Claremont had stayed on the book, that he would’ve done something with it. As it is, Amara won’t be in the book much longer.
Upstairs, Doug comes across Roulette, who talks him into joining a high-stakes poker game. In the basement, Dani and Thunderbird are trying to follow the trail of their teammates, and get harassed by Hellfire goons. Back at the game, Doug’s ability to read body language (which I don’t think was ever actually established before, but which is perfectly reasonable) helps him to win. Roulette gives him a kiss and then pulls him away for celebration. A little later on, a maid is bringing some stuff to a room, and gets scared by Rahne and Catseye. Rahne looks in on the room, and Dani hears her terrified scream in her mind. The Mutants go see what’s happening, and find Doug, drunk, with Roulette and a couple other women.
Dani’s pissed, and she accuses the Hellions of trying to set them up, luring them off one-by-one to pick them off. Not cool, Dani. Then a thought occurs to Doug, that Roulette used her luck power to help him win. And he slaps her. Dude! No! Not cool at all! Sam stops a fight by proposing a contest, that they track down and punish whoever swindled that guy earlier.
I really like this issue. It’s a lot of fun. The opening is a bit weak, if only because it never ends up going anywhere. If it had a chance to really build to something down the line, it would’ve been cool, but as it is, it just feels like a waste of space. But the rest of the issue’s great. I love a good party issue. There’s a lot of great interactions here. I like the Hellions as rivals but not really enemies. It allows for them to be friendly to the Mutants. I feel bad for poor Tarot, getting told off by Doug. She always seemed like a real sweetheart. And then he slaps Roulette, who was never a sweetheart, but didn’t deserve to be slapped. Even if she had used her power, she wouldn’t have deserved to be hit for it. Doug really does come across as a dick in this issue, though that is kinda the point of the issue. He’s feeling useless and helpless and he resents it, so he lashes out.
A lot of the other interactions are good, too. Dani and Thunderbird have kind of a weird thing going. Since they’re both Native Americans, they have a bit of a bond, but they’re from different tribes, so they also have a bit of a rivalry. They’re both the leaders of their teams, so there’s rivalry there, too. But, honestly, the rivalry seems mostly one-way. I get the impression that Thunderbird actually really likes Dani and wants to be friends, but she’s really suspicious of him and the Hellfire Club. It’s a shame she couldn’t trust him, because they would’ve made a great pair. Oh well, they’ll become friends later, during X-Force.
Sam and Jetstream have a pretty fun rivalry, and with them, it actually is a rivalry. And it’s fun seeing Illyana scare the shit out of Empath. But the best relationship between the Mutants and Hellions is clearly Rahne and Catseye. They’re great! They’re so cute together. I would so read a series about those two having wacky hijinks. It would be great.
So, yeah, it’s a really fun issue, in terms of the writing. It’s also well-drawn. I like the outfits. They all get to look so fancy. The guys are just in tuxes, of course. Amara’s got this really nice toga-style dress. Illyana’s got a pretty sexy purple dress. Dani’s dress has a definite Native America theme to it, but it actually works better than it should. Thunderbird’s tux is also Native American-themed. Rahne has a pink dress that’s kinda ugly but suits her personality very well. I like Catseye’s yellow dress with poofies on it. Roulette’s black dress is another sexy one. There’s a lot of nice outfits here. And just in general, the art looks fairly nice. A little vague at times. There’s a lot of panels that are really crowded with people, which is a little distracting. Faces could be a little more expressive. But it’s good. The colours are nice.
All in all, a really fun issue. Even if I wish Karma had gotten more to do here. But she’ll get a scene next issue.