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New Mutants #71 (1989, January)

October 24, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Simonson, Blevins, Williamson, Oliver and Rosen, “Limbo.”


S’ym’s got some pretty great hair.

I have to mention that Gosamyr bothers me on the cover. It strikes me as a little sexualized, a little exploitative. The way she’s depicted on the cover feels reminiscent of old Damsel In Distress-style covers. Ah, well.

The Mutants enter Limbo, and Illyana can’t get them back out. While fighting demons, they talk about Destiny’s vision, and learning, and all that. S’ym beats Illyana and grabs her Soulsword, but her armour still protects her. He threatens to kill her friends, so she summons stepping discs to get them all away. N’astirh contacts S’ym, and they bicker. I like their animosity. It makes sense for two potent demons to hate each other.

The Mutants are in Belasco’s throne room. She recaps how she first ended up in Limbo, and her time spent there.

New Mutants #71

Gorgeous panel.

“I was only six years old.” That line is fantastic. So much packed into 6 words. And it’s a fantastic image. Illyana, sitting on Belasco’s throne, looking broken. Just her outline in red and black. It’s gorgeous work from the art team. Just stellar. Anyway, she continues on – talks about Nightcrawler’s death, about Cat, and about Storm.

New Mutants #71

Poor Illyana. And another gorgeous panel.

Your heart really breaks for her. The others all say she couldn’t have killed the X-Men, since they died much later.

New Mutants #71

Here, she’s just terrifying.

The demons show up, and Illyana teleports them all away again, this time to Colossus’ corpse. Rahne’s on the verge of a complete breakdown, but they’re all distracted by a scream. They see Illyana, as a little girl, being chased by S’ym.

New Mutants #71

A demon telling a woman to smile. Appropriate.

The past few years have had a lot more attention put on the misogyny inherent in men telling women to smile. Simonson was tearing those men apart a long time ago. Rahne tries to jump to the girl’s protection, but Illyana explains the situation, and says they can’t save her, because she needs to grow up to be who she is so she can get the others home. They then see S’ym getting attacked by N’astirh. Illyana has no idea who N’astirh is, but she can sense his power. Rahne wants to save Illyana, no matter the price.

Back in New York, the Hellfire Club sees the Empire State Building is growing, and fight off attacks from inanimate objects.

New Mutants #71

That’s pretty horrifying.

Something I feel is worth highlighting: When a bunch of people get in an elevator, and it starts killing them, Emma says she feels their screams, and she’s genuinely shaken up. This seems like another step on Emma’s road to redemption. She’s not as evil as she used to appear.

Back to Limbo! The Mutants next teleport over to N’astirh, still in Limbo’s past. We get his backstory: He wanted to be Belasco’s apprentice, but Belasco took only human apprentices. So before Illyana could destroy Belasco’s main book of spells, N’astirh stole it, traveled far into Limbo’s past, and mastered all the spells. He offers to help Illyana, saying he loves her. He tells her she allowed S’ym to take her Soulsword, because she was afraid, and that she can reclaim it. To accept her true self. And he also says he hopes she’ll one day return, to be his Dark Bride.

The Mutants teleport back to S’ym, and Illyana kicks his ass and takes back her Soulsword.

New Mutants #71

And she gets a makeover.

She opens a portal back to Earth, but it’s much bigger than she intended, and she can’t close it.

This issue’s great. The writing and art work beautifully to tell a tragic story. It really highlights what a tragic character Illyana is. She had such a horrible upbringing in Limbo, faced so much horror, and it left deep scars on her. And she tries so hard to be good, to be better than she believes she is, but that desperation makes it easy for her to be tricked into doing the wrong things. Every time she breaks down in tears, you just want to give her a hug, and every time she’s about to make a mistake, you want to scream at the book, “No! Don’t do it!” But she’s playing out her role, and it’s so sad.

Simonson’s dialogue is fantastic. Just the right amount of melodrama. Loads of angst, but it makes perfect sense, given the events of the issue. Most of the characters don’t get a lot to do, but Illyana really shines, and Rahne also gets to continue showing her love of Illyana. I love that she wants to protect Illyana, to literally take away the pain she suffered, even if it means Rahne has to suffer instead. The relationship between Rahne and Illyana is one of my favourite things about Simonson’s run.

The art is also excellent in this issue. Blevins, Williamson and Buccellato do great work together. There’s so much emotion. Blevins’ expressions and body language are absolutely packed with feelings. And Oliver outdoes herself on the colours. Seriously, she was one of the best colour artists out there, and this is stellar work even by her standards. The uses of red and black are perfect. Gorgeous work.

This is a fantastic issue. One of the best issues of Simonson’s entire run on New Mutants.

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