New Mutants Annual #3 (1987, September)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m very disappointed at the white Iron Fist. I wish they’d chosen not to embrace the Mighty Whitey angle. I’ll talk more about that in my pull list on Tuesday. For today, by Claremont, Davis, Neary, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Anything You Can Do . . .!”
This happens some time ago – prior to Fallen Angels – and it begins, naturally, in the Danger Room. Doug is in the control booth, listening to music while smiling maniacally. The rest of the team – minus Karma and Magma, who are out with the flu and are you goddamn kidding me, Claremont? Come on! – are ready for their training. Their training is against the Avengers. But Doug makes it even better: The Teen Avengers. The fight is actually a lot of fun. Tactics include tickling, kissing, and an illusion that renders Teen Monica catatonic. Dani actually feels really bad about it. Even though this Monica is a hologram. Which makes it weird that she can even have fears. I mean, holy shit, these computers create holograms capable of sentient thought. That’s insane. We see Teen Black Knight’s thoughts during the fight, too. So we know they think. So . . . is it murder to turn the computers off? This doesn’t get explored, obviously, but Claremont inadvertently opened the door to some really horrifying thoughts.
Anyway, during the whole fight, something has been approaching from space. And now, the house starts shaking. They run upstairs, and see a giant space ship hovering above the house. And beaming down is . . . the Impossible Man! He wants to have more fun with the X-Men! But they’re not around, and the Mutants have schoolwork to do. But the Impossible Man says they’re just scared, and Warlock gets angry.
The New Mutants go after them, but not, sadly, until changing into their “graduation” costumes. Ugh. Uuuuugh. Not even Alan Davis can make those things look good. Except for Illyana’s. Illyana’s costume is actually pretty good.
First up, Impossible Man as Hulk vs. Warlock as Thing, fighting in Manhattan. (Bystanders include “Sanderson” and “Gruenwald,” both people who worked for Marvel at this time. Cute.) That fight ends with a big bang and both of them teleporting away again. Next, the Mutants head to Rio De Janeiro! Bobby gets them all bathing suits so they can fit in on the beach. They find Impy and Warlock engaged in . . . a swimsuit competition. A crowd of women are cheering a handsome hung of beefcake posing in a tiny speedo.
Then another hunk comes out to pose, and this one is definitely Warlock, based on his speech patterns.
I think my favourite thing in that image might actually be Rahne. Just her eyes poking over the stage. Impy comes back out, a little hunkier than before, to more applause. Dani and Illyana are actually kinda loving it. Sam gets annoyed, and rockets them away, explaining that it’s on behalf of every man on that beach. It’s pretty great. Being dunked in water makes them revert to the normal appearances. The angry women attack, so Warlock and Impy teleport away, followed, once again, by the Mutants.
This time, to Wimbledon! And they decide on a tennis match! Which involves a whole lot of balls being smacked back and forth. The Mutants end up right in the middle of all those balls. They just get pelted by balls from all sides. I do not apologize for being 12 years old. Once everyone leaves again, the Wimbledon announcer apologizes for the interruption and says play will resume directly. That guy is good at his job. Appropriately British unflappability. You go, dude.
This time, Warlock and Impy haven’t gone far. They’re duking it out at Forbidden Planet. They’re wrecking a comic shop! Those maniacs! They stop fighting when Warlock realizes that Captains Britain and America – who they resemble at the moment – are both heroes, and heroes aren’t supposed to fight. Jeez, Warlock, maybe if you stopped smashing comic shops and actually read the comics, you’d realize how wrong that is. So, this:
Impy gets angry when Warlock becomes Spider-Woman. Spider-Woman is Impy’s friend, and he can’t fight her, even as a joke. I’ll be honest, guys, I find Impossible Man so damn charming. It’s stuff like this that does it. He really is just a big kid. And while that can easily be annoying, it can also be incredibly sweet.
Anyway, the fight then moves to Moscow’s Red Square. Illyana gets annoyed next, since Russia is still her homeland and she doesn’t appreciate it being turned into a battlefield.
Impy gets angry at Warlock being taken away, and demands his return. So, Warlock is sent back. And next up is Tokyo! Where Impy is Galactus and Warlock is the Watcher. They continue to argue that anything one can do, the other can do better. And the Mutants realize something, which they tell Warlock. And Warlock tells Impossible Man there’s something he can do that Impossible Man can’t: Change colour.
Back at the school, Impossible Man is crying. Very loudly. Sam and Dani force Warlock and Impy to make up and be friends. Magneto comes home, and asks how their day went, and they lie really, really badly. And then a TV shows them at Wimbledon, and Magneto yells as they try to sneak away, in a perfect sitcom ending.
So, this comic is ridiculous. It’s stupid. And it’s wonderful. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a playground fight taken to ludicrous levels. It’s just goofy fun with no real message to it. Warlock and Impossible Man do have some key similarities, which makes them play off each other really well. They are both very child-like, in terms of how they see the world, which leads to a lot of really good interactions between them. They’re both also big on TV, which gives them a certain degree of pop culture awareness. For example, turning into Rocky and Rambo. Or turning into various superheroes and supervillains. It’s playfighting, for real, sort of. And it’s goofy and fun.
Alan Davis is Alan Davis. The book looks great. That’s never in doubt when you put him on art. Neary and Oliver complement him really well – Paul Neary is a pretty regular collaborator for Davis, and they work together well. Davis excels at expression. Getting across characters’ moods and thoughts. And his style is also cartoonish in a way that just fits these characters so well. These are cartoon characters. He really gives a sense of wackiness and bizarreness to the whole thing, which is also balanced by his ability to depict the mundane. That’s always been what Davis excels at: Balancing the mundane with the utterly ridiculous.
So, this Annual is fantastic. Insane amounts of fun.