New Mutants #66 (1988, August)
We open on a splash page of Illyana attacking Forge. Her first line is “You killed my brother,” and I honestly expected her to follow up with “prepare to die!” She didn’t, of course. Oh well. When he sword cuts a chunk of rock, the Mutants notice a demonic face leering at them from it. This worries them, especially after Destiny’s warning. Forge warns Illyana that, because he draws his magic from the earth, she can’t beat him, so she takes things to Limbo. She uses vines to wrap up the Mutants while she continues the duel. With Forge creating some rather unfortunate Native-themed mystic armour and weapons.
I do wonder if Blevins consulted with some Native Americans about this. I’m guessing no. I honestly don’t even know if it’s offensive, but it seems like it might be vaguely offensive. Regardless, Illyana fights him and accuses him of letting her brother die. During the fight, her scrying glass gets destroyed. Forge decides he’s tired of fighting, and he surrenders.
Obviously, she stabs him. It disrupts his magic, but doesn’t kill him, yet. Her demons urge her on to finish him off. Dani tries one last trick.
Forge tells her to kill him. Rahne pleads with her not to. The demons urge her on. Illyana decides to free her friends and spare Forge. She sends him back to Dallas, and returns to the school with the Mutants. They happen to spot Magneto in his old villain costume. Uh-oh!
And in space, a spider-like alien is looking at a Lila Cheney poster, wanting to add her to his collection. He bought her contract, and is sending a lovely young alien woman named Gossamyr to bring her back.
This is good. It’s really tense. Illyana’s anger is scary, and the way she gets progressively worse throughout the issue creates real tension. I also like that we get a little bit of exploration on how Forge feels about the whole thing, with him not wanting anyone else to be hurt because of him. He comes across very sympathetic. Claremont had little follow-up with Forge in the aftermath of Fall of the Mutants, so I’m glad Simonson covered it here. The conflict also ends on a very satisfying note, with Illyana choosing her friends over vengeance. She still feels like a monster, which is sad. She believes that what Dani showed her is who she really is. And it’s so sad, guys. The Mutants, and especially Rahne, are trying so hard to make her see that she’s better than she believes she is. But she has so much trouble seeing it. We’re all right there with you, Illyana. It’s so hard, sometimes, getting over that feeling of worthlessness. A lot of us never really do get over it. So her struggle at the end is especially poignant.
The art’s great. Blevins’ cartoonish style works so well for darker stuff. He makes things look so weird, and that’s perfect for a place like Limbo, which should be weird and dark. The cuteness of his style makes the dark elements so much more unsettling. And it’s really expressive to get across mood and tone and emotion. I really like his work.
So, overall, really good issue.