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New Mutants #68 (1988, October)

August 16, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list post is up. Today, by Simonson, Blevins, Oliver and Bruzenak, “Illusion!”

Illusion!

I’m pretty sure that’s not a regulation chess board.

We start in Limbo, where Illyana is trying to repair her scrying glass so she can find Lila. Her own Darkchild form takes over the glass, and it explodes. Sam saves Rahne, who fawns over him a lot more than usual. Illyana’s feeling pretty bad about her own failure.

New Mutants #68

Poor Illyana. Things are only going to get worse for her.

Gosamyr starts crying about how they’ll never save her parents, and Dani tells her to shut up, and that Illyana can just teleport the stolen space yacht out to where she’d seen Spyder’s ship. It’s a pretty good idea, actually. They briefly wonder if they should tell Magneto what they’re doing, but decide against it. They pop to the yacht, and Gosamyr shows them a machine that makes clothes. Dress-up time!

New Mutants #68

That is very, very pink.

Dani feels silly and leaves. And Gosamyr starts stirring shit up.

New Mutants #68

Rahne’s wearing a Lila wig, by the way.

So, I do want to mention that Dani has worn dresses in the past without minding it. So Gosamyr is wrong about that. Plenty of tomboys enjoy looking pretty, too. But yeah, Gosamyr’s starting up some trouble. Spyder is watching them, with Lila chained in front of them, and he explains that women of Gosamyr’s species emit energy that intensifies the emotions of those around them. Spyder’s race, meanwhile, is intellectual, and lacks those emotions. So, apparently, they sniff emotions up.

Back on the yacht, Bobby thinks Dani’s in a bad mood, and compares her to the Wicked Witch of the West. He seems pretty grumpy, too. Rahne and Gosamyr come in, with Sam and Bobby both being immediately stricken by Gosamyr, in her fancy new outfit. Warlock says he doesn’t trust Gosamyr, and that the others act different when she’s around. A little later, Bobby and Gosamyr are in the observation deck, as Bobby pours his soul out. They start making out, just as Rahne looks in. Gosamyr winks at her, which scares her off. And that moment kinda confuses me a little. Was that wink more of Gosamyr stirring shit? Because Rahne didn’t have a thing for Bobby. And it’s not like Bobby making out with a woman is terribly shocking or unusual. So, yeah, that moment’s a bit weird to me.

A bit after, everyone gathers again. Gosamyr causes even more problems. She flirts with Sam, not very subtly.

New Mutants #68

Yeah, not at all subtle.

She annoys Dani by suggesting she summon something more interesting than a spear, which prompts Dani to give a lecture on how her power now works. After Rahne runs off, Gosamyr tells Sam Rahne has a crush on him, but he brushes that off. What an idiot. Dani goes to check on Rahne, but Gosamyr stops her, and goes creepy.

New Mutants #68

This is weird and creepy.

Gosamyr tells Dani that Spyder’s ship has dropped into orbit around a planet, and Dani snaps into leader mode, heading to the bridge to arrange things and ordering Gosamyr to go with her. In the observation deck, Sam, in fine, knightly clothes confesses his love to Rahne. On the bridge, they’re called from the planet, and landing clearance documents demanded. Rahne, freaked out by Sam’s confession, runs to the bridge . . . where Sam is sitting. Dani uses her power to make the guy on the surface see what he wants, which makes a Sam disappear. So now Rahne is angry at having been toyed with by Dani, who has no idea what happened. Things devolve into chaos.

Then it turns out the papers she sent the guy were actually a bribe, and his commanding officer sees and orders them destroyed. Oops.

So. OK. Let me say that, if this comic were written by a guy, I doubt I’d be as forgiving towards it. If it had been a guy, I probably would’ve been really hard on it. But it was written by a woman, so instead, I’m left somewhat unsure how I feel about it. Gosamyr is . . . I don’t know, man. It seems like Simonson must be commenting on something, but it’s tough to tell exactly what she’s saying. Is it meant as a reflection on how some women are viewed in society? Or something like that? Gosamyr is depicted as manipulative, playing on the emotions of everyone around her, for no apparent purpose. She’s trying to get them to save her parents, and yet, she spends this entire issue trying to make them hate each other. It’s tough to tell exactly why. Spyder hints that it’s just what they do, but he talks about an energy, not about them being predisposed towards manipulation. I tried to see if I could find anywhere that Simonson may have talked about Gosamyr, and what she was going for with the character, but I couldn’t find anything. And when X-Plain the X-Men did their episode on it, they were confused by Gosamyr, as well, so obviously they never saw any explanation. I think, if I knew exactly what Simonson’s intention was, I’d be able to judge this issue a lot more fairly. As it is, I think it has some interesting ideas in it, some good character moments, but poor execution.

I do enjoy the art. As always, I know Blevins is controversial, but I think his style works well. The issue is about exaggerated emotions, so an exaggerated art style just fits the story. Plus, Blevins is just so good at body language. There’s some great panels for that. We routinely see Illyana just curled up looking miserable. Dani puts her feet on a console at one point, in a way that conveys her irritation perfectly. The issue’s full of little things like that, and it sells the emotions even better.

So, on the whole, this issue has some good stuff, but isn’t a great issue.

There’s also Power Pack #40, by Simonson, Sal Velluto, Gary Talaoc, Oliver and Rosen. This story takes place before the New Mutants Annual. Power Pack are looking for Rebecca, the mutant girl the Bogeyman grabbed. They come across a weird vehicle, which is pretty clearly Warlock, but this is a comic so of course a fight starts between Power Pack and Cannonball, quickly ended for a nice reunion between the teams. This is actually the first time Illyana meets the Power Pack! Anyway, it’s a really nice scene between the two teams. I like their friendship. I would love to see them hang out again. Have Jack Power show up in USAvengers. Alex comes up with a plan to lure in the Bogeyman. Warlock changes to look like the Bogeyman, and Katie poses as Rebecca, and they take a bunch of photos. Illyana teleports them to police stations and news studios.

The next day, the two teams meet in the Power household, for phase two. Katie’s going out a window and gets grabbed by the Bogeyman, unexpectedly. Warlock hitches a ride, and leaves a trail of himself for the others to follow right to the Bogeyman’s base. Inside, Katie tells Rebecca she’s there to help, and asks what Rebecca’s hero name will be. Rebecca says she doesn’t want to be a hero, she just wants to go home. Aww, poor kid. The Bogeyman contacts N’astirh about selling the pair, and N’astirh expresses interest in Katie, saying his creatures have used her power before. Then, it’s fight time. With a bunch of robot toys. Which is kinda weird. Dani shocks the Bogeyman with his greatest wish, a graveyard full of mutants, buried under piles of money. Illyana gets pissed and sends him to Limbo.

The teams take Rebecca home, for a nice, happy ending. Her parents decide to move away and change their name, and Rebecca decides she wants to use her power to help people, when she grows up. It’s a great story. Power Pack and the New Mutants always made for great team-ups. They play off each other in really interesting and effective ways. The art here doesn’t really do the book any favours, though. It’s not that it’s bad art, though it is unremarkable. It’s just too straightforward. Power Pack works best when the art is more cartoonish. June Brigman is, of course, the definitive Power Pack artist. But Bret Blevins worked really well, too.

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