New Mutants #60
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). It’s National Superhero Day! So here’s a superhero comic. And it’s kind of a downer, actually. By Simonson, Blevins, Austin, Oliver and Orzechowksi, “Suspended Ani-Mation!”
Ani-Mator is ranting. As he does. Yelling at Bird-Boy for fleeing the testing, and then bringing outsiders, despite the law to kill any outsiders. Dani tries an illusion of what Ani-Mator fears, and it’s Hodge. Ani-Mator insists he’s loyal to the right, no insurrection here. He figures out it’s an illusion, and turns his ranting to the Mutants, saying he’s going to use them to create a perfect slave race of Ani-Mates. On a fun note, a bird lands on his shoulder and starts mimicking his gestures. It’s pretty great.
The Mutants are taken to the lab. Dani and Sam reflect on how badly they screwed up, while Doug and Rahne note that the Ani-Mator seems convinced he’s doing something good, with Doug comparing him to Nazi torturers. One of the Ani-Mates, a cat-based one, also apparently hits on Rahne. Which is pretty great. The Mutants are put in tubes, and watch horrified as the next batch of Ani-Mates are smashed in their own tubes. He also kills the bird-dude who was mimicking him. Aw, poor bird-dude, I liked him.
Rahne feels really awful, thinking her animal form makes her similar to the murderous Ani-Mates. Doug tells her not to be ashamed of her animal form, and reminds her that Bird-Brain’s as good as any human. Awww, Doug. You’re so sweet. It’s nice, the way he reassures her, though he unfortunately feels the need to put himself down, too. Illyana is confident Magneto will find them soon, and save the day.
Back at the school, Magneto leaves to go use the Hellfire Club’s equipment to find the Mutants. Bobby and Warlock look at the maps scattered around. They write Magneto a note, with Warlock’s finger turning into a pen for Bobby to write with. That’s kinda cute. And, obviously, as soon as they leave, the note is blown off the table and slips under a counter. Of course that happens.
Back on the island, Ani-Mator gets a call from Hodge, and we actually get some background on him. He used to have a career as a medical researcher at a university, but he ignored what he was hired for in order to do his research on mutations. He faked results on the efficiency of some medicines, and when people died, he ended up in jail. Hodge also wonders what the hell Ani-Mator is wearing on his head. Ani-Mator hangs up, but Hodge is on his way to the island, So are Bobby and Warlock!
Ani-Mator has the Ani-Mates taken to the maze, and orders the Mutants loaded into his ship. He plans on destroying his lab and continuing his work elsewhere. Doug convinces the Ani-Mates that Mator’s going to kill them, too, and Dani scares them with an illusion, so they drop the Mutants, whose tubes shatter. With the Mutants free, their confidence returns. Illyana teleports back to the school to get Magneto, but the house is empty. So she teeports back, and they start herding the warrior Ani-Mates into Limbo. Ani-Mator tries to escape, since the self-destruct is activated, and he doesn’t know how to disarm it. He’s a geneticist, not a programmer. A comic book scientist who isn’t an expert in everything! That’s really rare, guys.
Anyway, the Mutants win, and they’re happy. They’re going to take the Ani-Mates back to the school and everything will be creepy-cute animal people forever. I’m sure the second half of this issue will do nothing to prove me wrong oh wait no, there’s Hodge and his Smiley-Faces. And they immediately shoot the New Mutants. Ani-Mator is pissed at Hodge’s presence. Hodge orders all the Ani-Mates killed. The Smileys enter the maze to do it. Which gives Bird-Brain a chance to rally the Ani-Mates against them, and rescue the Mutants.
More fighting! And now Bobby and Warlock arrive to help out! Doug feels bad, because all his friends are fighting the Smileys, but he can’t help without being a distraction. He spots Ani-Mator with a gun. Rahne is wrestling with a Smiley, and doesn’t see Mator aiming at her, so Doug tackles her and takes the bullet. And here’s where the tragedy kicks in: Rahne doesn’t actually know what happened. She thinks he was trying to help with the Smiley. She doesn’t notice that Doug was shot.
Hodge gets fed up with the fight and leaves, but his plane gets taken down by a giant octopus. Obviously, Hodge doesn’t die, though I don’t think we find out how he survives it and gets back to the US.
Bird-Brain beats the Ani-Mator in a fight and claims his hat. Rahne is proud, and calls for Doug to come out to congratulate him.
Rahne cries. Warlock doesn’t really get what’s going on. The Mutants feel like crap, thinking it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t disobeyed Magneto. The Ani-Mator reveals what happened, which is probably a terrible idea on his part. Here’s why:
He ends up being sent to Limbo instead, to feed the demons. So instead of killing him directly, they’re killing semi-directly. They’re still killing him, and no one seems bothered by it. Sam gives the Ani-Mates a speech on what it means to be a man.
So, I have some mixed feelings on this issue. It’s a great issue, of course. Lots of highs and lows. A nice exploration of responsibility. Really exciting action. And, of course, Doug’s death was heartbreaking. He died a hero, which is some comfort, but he also died unnoticed, and it was a heartbreaking moment. But . . . the issue continues after that. I feel like Rahne crouching over Doug’s dead body would have been the perfect place for this issue to end, and the follow-up would’ve been better-suited to the next issue (though it would mean some of that issue would have to be re-written, but whatever). It feels like continuing on actually kinda pulls some of the pain away. It would’ve been more emotionally-effective ending on the tears. So, the final couple pages, while otherwise strong, just end up being anti-climactic.
Nevertheless, it’s still a great issue, and a heart-crushing one. And oh, there is worse coming up. There is so much worse coming up. The next issue is pretty sad. Then a couple filler issues before one of the saddest things ever.
The art works really well. Blevins’ cartoonish style is good for monsters, and there’s lots of monsters. And it’s also an expressive style, which really hammers in the emotion in the scenes involving Doug’s death and the aftermath. It’s not a style everyone will enjoy, but it’s an excellent fit for this story.
This issue is one of the highlights of Simonson’s run.