New Mutants #72 (1989, February)
Demons are pouring through the portal. And I actually need to spotlight some captions, because they’re really good.
Yeah, that is some fantastic prose from Simonson. Really powerful stuff, really good at making Illyana sympathetic, make you feel bad for her. But anyway, S’ym shows up, and fights N’astirh for control of the Darkchilde. N’astirh teleports her away, and the New Mutants wonder what they can do, when they spot some planes up at the Pentagram in the sky, and decide to go help up there. This is, of course, something we saw in X-Terminators #4.
But this book instead follows Illyana. She’s been sent to Hell’s Kitchen, which is very demonic. She’s dragged into a diner, which is utter madness.
They want her to use the sword, but instead, she teleports away. The story cuts back to the New Mutants, helping the X-Terminators, and agreeing to split their forces to stop what’s happening. And back to Illyana! She’s now outside the See No Evil Pet Shop. A fire hydrant knocks her inside. Where it’s madness.
They break free and attack her, urging her, again, to use her sword. She teleports away again, and the story returns to the Mutants, who are saving the babies. Dani takes a hit from a demon in the process. Back to Illyana, who’s now outside a salon. Where things are madness, but cultured madness.
While they give her a makeover, it’s back to the New Mutants, rescuing babies, while N’astirh and S’ym continue their conflict, and then there’s an explosion and the Pentagram vanishes and the demons stop coming. With the babies saved, the Mutants and X-Terminators split again. Dani and Gosamyr stay with Rusty and Skids to watch the babies, while Rictor and Boom-Boom join the other Mutants to look for Illyana. But then things start getting crazy again.
N’astirh is still alive, his techno-organic cells filled with magic. Meanwhile, Illyana cuts the demon chair in order to get free of it. It bleeds to death, feeling satisfied. As a result of her sheeding blood via the sword, she’s become more corrupted, and N’astirh shows up, asking her to be his bride. She pulls up her armour to reject him, and he leaves her to S’ym.
Great issue! Illyana’s trials are an odd mix of fun and creepiness. Blevins does a great job in this issue (with Williamson and Oliver, of course). His cartoonish style already makes things feel less real, and with Inferno, a feeling of unreality works well. Everything becomes exaggerated and bizarre. And the cuteness of the style makes it all so much more unsettling. Like a kids movie that gives adults nightmares. The contrast is really good. At the same time, though, the transformed businesses are just fun. They’re so weird and goofy and silly, and it’s entertaining, even as it’s creepy.
And Simonson writes Illyana’s increasing despair really well, too. The scenes with the other New Mutants aren’t great. Truthfully, if the issue were more focused on them, their battle against the demons probably would’ve been great. It would’ve been exciting stuff. But as it is, every time they showed up, it felt like a distraction from Illyana’s story. Their story suffers just from not being Illyana’s story, because Illyana’s story here is so compelling and you want to see more. Simonson does great work with her. The demonic stuff and people and animals all taunting her, reinforcing her fears of what she is, and her still trying to deny it and just wanting to be left alone. It’s really sad, really powerful stuff. Poor Illyana. And those captions at the start are a brilliant bit of writing.
This is a great issue, and Inferno continues to be one of the best X-overs.